cover of Helmet for My Pillow with 7.4 Grade Level

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert Leckie (Free Copies)

To read this ebook using Google Play Books on your tablet or computer, or iBooks on an iPad, download this epub format.

To read on a device from Amazon, here is the ebook in mobi format.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times, September, 1957.

“…This is an old story, but it is told in a fresh and lovely voice. Robert Leckie writes with charm, with personal humility, with humor, with a rare gift for capturing all that is human in the most inhuman of man’s activities.

He makes no bones about it—the war is what happened to him. The point of view is not the grand strategy of victory, but the immediate tactic of personal survival. By turns a boot, a machine gunner on Guadalcanal, a liberty hound in Australia, an intelligence scout on Peleliu—briefly a self-styled “brig rat” subsisting on bread and water and finally a casualty —Private Leckie fought the enlisted man’s battle.
By David Dempsey

 

From the Marine Corps Association and Foundation

Revisiting a Pacific War Classic by Lt. Col. Michael Grice

Robert Leckie’s “Helmet for My Pillow” has been my single favorite military book for over 30 years. Written from the perspective of a young participant in the great endeavor that was World War II, it is a soulful, wrenching, humorous, and insightful account of one youth’s journey into manhood via the Pacific campaigns spearheaded by the 1st Marine Division.

I first read it as a junior high school student in 1980, and I have reread it nearly every year since. It has framed my perspectives of the Marine Corps, of leadership, of enlisted service, of officers, and of combat as I have aged, matured, and risen through the ranks. Leckie doesn’t provide a technical, historical account consisting of units, maps, and strategy, but instead provides a humanistic view of the Marine Corps at war from the perspective of an often-bewildered observer caught up in the whirlwind of events.

Beginning with his rush to service after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Leckie brings the reader along as a fellow traveler on his journey to war. He presents his story through a framework of symbolism, simile, and metaphor; almost no character is identified by actual name but instead by title or attribute that the author chooses to best typify them. Generally warm to his peers (to whom have been bestowed titles such as “Hoosier,” “Chuckler,” and “Runner,” all so called because of their origins, habits, or claims to fame), he is critical of his seniors, most notably his officers. “Commando,” for example, was what we would consider an exceptionally motivated officer in the modern sense, but his Marines viewed him with suspicion and occasional terror as he attempted to utilize urban combat techniques in the dank jungles of the Pacific. “Commando sits on his brains,” says Leckie and his mates; they recognize that he is incredibly brave, but such bravery is not the only quality that a leader needs to possess in order to inspire men. He writes of officers who only venture into the lines when they hear that Leckie has somehow obtained a box of cigars; true to his status as a carefree private he ensures that they receive none.

Leckie is not uncomplimentary to all of his leaders, however, as he admiringly terms one of his lieutenants “Spearmint” because he has the lowly affectation for chewing gum. Spearmint they follow out of respect and admiration; Commando they follow because they are Marines, and Marines follow orders. The juxtaposition of leadership types and styles from the perspective of an articulate young private is an object lesson that all Marine leaders should heed, and there is no finer case study than Helmet for My Pillow.

The book should not be read only for the study in leadership, but also from the perspective of a Marine engaged in a seemingly endless conflict. Leckie speaks of timeless war where rumors of returning home rise and fall with the completion of each assault. He chronicles the chaotic creation of a newly formed division as it prepares to fight; the murderous landings and campaigns in Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu; and the adventures and misadventures of liberty in Australia.

His writing style is not the staccato regurgitation of battle lines, company positions, and enemy orders of battle, but instead it is the wrenching and visceral viewpoint of a machinegunner in a dank and slimy pit who waits in the dark for the yellow peril to blot him savagely from existence. He writes of idly watching crocodiles feast on the Japanese dead in the Tenaru River, most notably one he names “Chowhound” because the dead soldier floats in a soup of rice ripped free from his haversack when the amphibious animals savage his body. He speaks easily of the petrifying terror felt by them all when the banzai charges came, and of the following relief when the attacks are repulsed and the field of battle is thick with the corpses of slain Japanese soldiers. He writes much as Norman Mailer did in The Naked and the Dead; his story is about the military experience but is not intended to be a military book. He writes of life and love and, most intensely, of fear:

I had not looked into its foliage before the darkness and now I fancied it infested with Japanese. Everything and all the world became my enemy, and soon my very body betrayed me and became my foe . . . . I lay quivering, in that rotten hole while the darkness gathered and all creation conspired for my heart. How long? I lay for an eternity. There was no time. Time had disintegrated in that black void. There was only emptiness, and that is something; there was only being: there was only consciousness. Like the light that comes up suddenly in a darkened theatre, daylight came quickly. Dawn came, and so myself came back to myself. I could see the pale outlines of my comrades to right and left, and I marveled to see how tame my tree could be, how unforbidding could be its branches.

I know now why men light fires.

Marines of all ranks and ages should read Leckie’s memoir. It contains lessons that pertain to us all—lessons about combat, lessons about life and, most importantly, lessons about leadership. Leckie, who managed to reach the rank of private first class on several occasions, rose from bread and water in a transport’s brig to being decorated for valor while fighting the Japanese. His observations on his lot in life, his friends, and his leaders are not so dissimilar from those being made today in places like Marjeh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. I have read his work dozens of times and will reread it many times more. I learn a little more each time I read it, and it is so well written that I look forward to reading it again.

Reprinted with permission of Lt. Colonel Michael Grice.

Directions on how to email this file to your Kindle device are here.
To add this mobi file to your Kindle for PC software to read the chapters on your computer, see instructions at http://tinyurl.com/y8gsazq.

The Kindle Personal Document Service allows teachers, or librarians to send a mobi file to up to 15 student Kindle email addresses at a time.

Last Flight from Singapore with Maps and Illustrations by Arthur G. Donahue

Fighting on after the Fall of Singapore

To read this ebook on a computer or tablet using Google Play Books, or iBooks on your tablet or iPad, download this epub format.

197 Downloads

To download a mobi file for your Amazon device, click here

375 Downloads

Directions on how to email this file to your Kindle device are here.
To add this mobi file to your Kindle for PC software to read the chapters on your computer, see these instructions .

The Kindle Personal Document Service allows teachers, or librarians to send a mobi file to up to 15 student Kindle email addresses at a time.

With the Calibre app, you and your students can read this ebook in epub format on computer screens. By changing the background color, and enlarging the font, the reading experience on a computer screen is reasonable. With Chromebooks, the device will offer a choice of ereading apps when you open the epub file.



As one of the storied few who defeated the Nazi Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, American Arthur G. Donahue-Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross-wished to continue his service and requested overseas duty. 

In October 1941, he was sent to the British protectorate of Singapore as a precaution against a possible threat from Japan, which was already conducting a war in China. This posting soon put him on the spot as the Japanese Army swept down the Malayan peninsula to assault the fortress island.

Within two months, all of Asia was thrown into turmoil as Japan simultaneously bombed Hawaii and invaded the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. Japanese forces swiftly conquered much of Southeast Asia and began moving toward Burma and India. Standing in the face of this onslaught was the British stronghold of Singapore. 

Donahue and his squadron began around-the-clock sorties, reminiscent of their battle against Germany a little more than one year earlier. This time, however, the British forces were overwhelmed and they were forced to surrender the city to the Japanese in February 1942, an event Winston Churchill called “the worst disaster” in British history.

During the final phase of the battle, Donahue was wounded while strafing Japanese transports unloading troops to storm Singapore. He managed to land, and was airlifted on the last flight from the city and ultimately to a hospital in India. In Last Flight from Singapore, Donahue tells his dramatic story, accompanied by photographs he took himself, of the intense and futile battle against the Japanese for control of the gateway to the Malay Peninsula. He continues his story through his convalescence to his return to England, where he once again began patrols over Europe. The manuscript for “Last Flight from Singapore” was found among his effects after he did not return from a patrol in 1942 and was presumed lost. 

From the New York Times review:
“Donahue is no literary artist and he makes no attempt either to dramatize or to underplay his experience. He tells them in a simple, unvarnished manner, much as if he were sitting down with some friends back home. The result is pretty close to what the real thing must have been. There are times when the horror and futility of the Singapore incident shine through with sickening clarity…
“Donahue was one of the expendables, one of the few who stood in the breach while the rest of us found out what was happening. He was one of the few of whom Churchill spoke when he cited the great debt of the many.”


Escape from Corregidor by Edgar D. Whitcomb

Download in epub format:


Download in mobi format:

ESCAPE FROM CORREGIDOR IS “ONE OF THE MOST FANTASTIC AND INCREDIBLE TRUE STORIES TO COME OUT OF WORLD WAR II.”
(Seattle Post Intelligencer)

“One of the best of the war-escape books … the more impressive because of its simplicity.”
(San Francisco Call-Bulletin)

“. . .an incredible, fascinating account.”
(Virginia Kirkus Service)

“This strange, true adventure of World War II is both interesting reading and a tribute to the American fighting man.” (Pittsburgh Courier)

“. . .exciting, fast moving. …” (Chicago Daily Calumet)

“WORLD WAR II HAS PROVIDED US WITH MANY BIZARRE ESCAPE STORIES, BUT NONE CAN SURPASS ESCAPE FROM CORREGIDOR.”
(The Jackson Sun)

Agent in Italy: A Memoir of a Spy in World War II with a Study Guide

I couldn’t hear a sound, either from the corridor and offices beyond the door or from the sleeping city of Milan outside. All the rest of the world could have died.
It was stifling. Italian police stations are badly ventilated. My throat was very dry and I kept coughing. I smoked another cigarette but that made it worse. The smoke hung in the dead air.
I tried the door again. My wet palm slipped on the unclean handle. The door was still locked, of course.
I didn’t know exactly what time it was because they’d taken my watch away from me. I guessed about three in the morning. I was going to be shot at six.
Thus begins this amazing; book—both a thrilling story of personal danger in Italy’s underground movement, and a fully detailed, authentic report on the crumbling of Italian Fascist morale under the terror of German occupancy.
The gripping adventures experienced by S. K. during his undercover work in Italy give us a picture of methods which more than match all we have heard of German and Russian espionage work. Yet they are absolutely bona fide—the author’s credentials have been carefully checked. He remains anonymous for the protection of those colleagues still carrying on the Democratic revolution.
Working with groups of fearless Italian patriots, it was S. K. who first revealed to the outside world through confidential information on Germany’s flame-throwing tanks, the intention of Mussolini to move against Greece, the use of American dollars for the purchase of oil in French African ports by submarine captions, the shipping of Messerschimitts to Central America, the existence of camouflaged airports in Nicaragua and Bolivia, the sending of Stukas to Japan, and the building of new Condors in Holland.
In addition to these sensational disclosures, agent in Italy now reveals fully detailed story of the German occupation of Italy, giving facts and figures, including an estimate of 400,000 Germans now keeping the junior Axis partner under shaky control.
Filled with tense and breathless incident, this book, the first to disclose the bitter ordeal of Italy, bring the excitement of the mystery novel to one of the most important factual documents of our day.

To read this ebook as a pdf, see the link below.
Agent In Italy

To read this ebook using Readium on a computer, or for Google Play Books on your tablet, or iBooks on an iPad, download this epub format.

To read on a device from Amazon, here is the ebook in mobi format.

Directions on how to email this file to your device are here.
To add this mobi file to your Kindle for PC software to read the chapters on your computer, see instructions at http://tinyurl.com/y8gsazq.

The Kindle Personal Document Service allows teachers, or librarians to send a mobi file to up to 15 student Kindle email addresses at a time.

the cover of An Army of Amateurs

An Army of Amateurs

Download an epub file for your Android, or Apple tablet, or Chromebook.


Download a mobi file for your Amazon device.

AN ARMY OF AMATEURS is the incredible story of the resistance of the ordinary Frenchman in the street to the Nazis—secretly sapping the strength of the invading armies until the final Allied victory. Here is a picture of a group of dedicated but inexperienced citizens who risked their lives and displayed enormous courage—winning despite the many blunders that amateurs were bound to make.

Philippe De Vomécourt, who with his two brothers, and the aid of Great Britain, helped to organize the resistance, began his operations by obtaining a job with the Nazis as an inspector of railroad trucks-enabling him to see that these trucks failed to get to the proper destination, to plan “escape routes” and assist in smuggling Jews to safety.

It was not long, however, before the Nazis began to suspect Philippe of being a traitor and eventually the luck of the de Vomécourt brothers ran out. One of them—who saw to it that every single torpedo ship leaving Germany was blown up—paid for his work by death in a concentration camp. Philippe was sentenced to hard labor but soon showed his unfailing ingenuity and daring by managing to escape—taking with him fifty-three other prisoners. Departing for England with a small group, he returned to France before D-Day to supervise the cloak-and-dagger activities of his own group, Special Operations Executive, enlisting anyone who was willing to help them harass the Germans.

AN ARMY OF AMATEURS is an important book, packed with heroism, hair raising escapes, and some sharp criticism of France’s allies.

Philippe De Vomécourt was born in France in 1902 and educated in England. As a young man, he joined the Flying Corps (British) in World War I, later studying agriculture and managing a farm in Africa. After marrying, he lived in the New Herbrides and then Australia before settling in France.