Military Manners and Customs

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Military Manners and Customs

It is impossible to head a chapter ‘The Laws of War’ without thinking of that famous chapter on Iceland headed ‘The Snakes of Iceland,’ wherein the writer simply informed his readers that there were none in the country. ‘The laws of war’ make one think of the snakes of Iceland.


Nevertheless, a summary denial of their existence would deprive the history of the battle-field of one of its most interesting features; for there is surely nothing more surprising to an impartial observer of military manners and customs than to find that even in so just a cause as the defence of your own country limitations should be set to the right of injuring your aggressor in any manner you can.


What, for instance, can be more obvious in such a case than that no suffering you can inflict is needless which is most likely permanently to disable your adversary? Yet, by virtue of the International Declaration of St. Petersburg, in 1868, you may not use explosive bullets against him, because it is held that they would cause him needless suffering. By the logic of war, what can be clearer than that, if the explosive bullet deals worse wounds, and therefore inflicts death more readily than other destructive agencies, it should be used? or else that those too should be excluded from the rules of the game—which might end in putting a stop to the game altogether?

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Sep 30, 2014
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History / Military / General
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Stephen E. Ambrose’s iconic New York Times bestseller about the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army.

They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak—in Holland and the Ardennes—Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world.

From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments.

They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach; they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign; they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge; and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler's Bavarian outpost, his Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden.

They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.

This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal—it was a badge of office.
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