"I see this book as the story my father never got to tell," John Toffey writes. And what a remarkable story it is that Lt. Col. Jack Toffey never got to tell.
In this moving account of a young man's journey to know a father who went to war in 1942 and never came back, John Toffey weaves memory, history, and his father's vivid letters home into a fascinating tale of a family, a war, and the threads that connect them.
John Toffey was nine when his father's National Guard outfit was mobilized. For two years Toffey, his mother, and his sister moved from post to post before his dad shipped out-to North Africa, fighting the Vichy French in Morocco, then the Germans in Tunisia, where he was wounded. In July 1943 he went back to war, leading an infantry battalion in the invasions of Sicily and southern Italy. In January 1944 he landed his battalion at Anzio and was wounded again. After a long, bitter stalemate, Toffey's regiment led Mark Clark's push on Rome. On June 3, 1944, Jack Toffey was killed in the hill town of Palestrina, one day before the Allies marched into
Rome. In a brutal campaign, Jack Toffey had commanded a combat battalion longer than any other officer in the Mediterranean theater.
Only in 1996, when his father's letters were discovered, did John Toffey begin to piece together what happened to his father. And he tells this contested story of Allied success and failure with drama, steely reserve, and balance, adding an invaluable perspective to the portrait of Jack Toffey created by Rick Atkinson in his bestselling Day of Battle.
This book is also a lovingly crafted portrait of home front Ohio, and how a young boy, his sister, and his mother waited out their war, scanning newspapers and magazines for news of Dad and devouring letters full of easy humor and expressions of love for and pride in his family and dreams of a good life after the war.