Tyler Fox, "Battle Surgeons: Care Under Fire in the 504th Parachute Infantry" (2023)


The pages of Battle Surgeons are inscribed with the 371 days of front-line duty worked by medics of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Set within the epic of European airborne missions, Battle Surgeons animates their band—the stalwart surgeons, their happy-go-lucky chaplain, and the youthful dentist—as they navigate World War II.

Up the gray peaks of Italy they trod, where Captain Sheehan was shot; and in the marshlands of Anzio, where Captain Sheek withstood the worst malaria could throw; and the Dutch lowlands, where Captain Shapiro crossed broad rivers; and through Belgium’s frozen forests, where Captain Halloran lamented the injury of a friend; through all this and more the doctors were in it, at places whose names echo through history: San Pietro, Anzio, Nijmegen.

In the wake of Sicily, the book’s sub-plot opens. Casualties were a struggle to evacuate and clear due to deficiencies in equipment, organization, and training. It ignited a series of reforms within the 82nd Airborne Division which the book picks up again during the English interlude. They reach their high water mark in Operation Market Garden, made famous by A Bridge Too Far. Grizzled with experience, casualty care in the 82nd was at its most efficient.

Battle Surgeons offers a penetrating look at the airborne medical service, the 82nd Airborne Division, and provides a touchstone for the big impact of a small detachment.

Your Host

Boris Karpa

View Profile