Posted by: philipmartin | October 15, 2009

A World War II Memoir – The Special Insight of Stories

According to satirist Oscar Wilde:

I dislike modern memoirs. They are generally written by people who have either entirely lost their memories, or have never done anything worth remembering.
– Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

Patton’s Lucky Scout avoids those traps. It is quite the opposite, a World War II memoir by an intelligent, trained observer (who also happens to be a great storyteller), and who did a lot of things worth remembering and sharing. Although it happens in the heart of war, as Patton’s Third Army marches across Europe, the account is quite upbeat and positive, reflecting the author’s deep compassion, his sense of humor, and an unflagging commitment to remembering what we share and value most as human beings, even in the midst of conflict.

From the Preface (by Nancy Martin) to Patton’s Lucky Scout, by Frank Wayne Martin (with Nancy, his daughter-in-law who helped compile and edit the book):

If I heard it once, I heard it a hundreds of times: “He should write a book!” about his time with Patton. Often there was an additional comment, [such as] “My uncle was in the Third Army but I don’t know what he did.”

This book is written is written in part for all of those who wonder what their loved ones experienced. While Frank Wayne Martin’s role was atypical, a lot of his experiences were universal.

The stories in this book are based upon his memories: the recollections of PFC Frank Wayne Martin, who served in the 328th regiment of the 26th Yankee Division in the Third Army during World War II. He kept no journal and has no written notes from his time in the Army, but does have photographs he took [note: some of which we’ll be sharing here on this blog].

The story episodes were written over a period of several decades, with the compilation being done over the past four years. Every attempt has been made to verify his stories, but due the nature of his work that is largely impossible.

Memoirs are not solely documentary history, but also story. The events are seen and interpreted through one person’s point of view. Indeed, while they bring a lot of valuable, boots-on-the-ground perspective to military history, or any type of history, they mostly bring insight into the invisible realm of values . . . what individuals felt was most important to remember and honor and share through their stories.

While this may not create a documentary, impartial account . . . it is all the more interesting and valuable because of that.

As famous author Tobias Wolff wrote in his preface to This Boy’s Life:

I have been corrected on some points . . . . Also, my mother thinks that a dog I described as ugly was actually quite handsome. I’ve allowed some of these points to stand, because this is a book of memory, and memory has its own story to tell.

We hope you enjoy reading Patton’s Lucky Scout, and that it will help others recall and share their stories of things that matter most.

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Responses

  1. Readers will also enjoy Soldier’s Mail which features the writings home of US Sgt Sam Avery from the front lines of American involvement in the Great War. Fascinating eyewitness account from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse. Letters are posted on the same date they were written more than 90 years ago. Long before the Greatest Generation there was the Most Gallant Generation. Come read the blog and march along!


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