All Souls Day


All Souls Day

The World War II Battle and the Search for a Lost U.S. Battalion

Joseph M. Pereira and John L. Wilson

266 pages
19 photographs, 3 tables, index


June 2023


$22.95 Add to Cart

November 2020


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2020


$22.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2020


$22.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The U.S. Army attacked three villages near the German-Belgium border, surprising the Germans who surrendered with little resistance. The German army regrouped and counterattacked. A brief but horrific battle ensued, and as the enemy pressed forward, the Americans retreated in haste, leaving behind their wounded and their dead. Discussion of this week-long conflict that began on All Souls Day, November 2, 1944, has been confined to officer training school, in part due to its heavy losses and ignominy.

After the war the U.S. Army returned to the battlefield to bring home its fallen. To its dismay it found that many of these men had vanished. The disappearances were puzzling and for decades the U.S. government searched unsuccessfully for clues. After poring over now-declassified battlefield reports and interviewing family members, the authors reconstruct a spellbinding story of love and sacrifice, honor and bravery, as well as a portrait of the gnawing pain of families not knowing what became of their loved ones. Ultimately this work of history and in-depth contemporary journalism proffers a glimmer of light in the ongoing search.

Author Bio

Joseph M. Pereira is an award-winning journalist who worked for the Wall Street Journal for more than two decades. He has taught journalism at Emerson College and at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University. He was a member of the Wall Street Journal staff that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 9/11 attacks, and he has won several other awards for his investigative work. John L. Wilson served in the U.S. Army and earned a BS from Boston College and an MBA from Boston University. He has worked for major multinational corporations leading domestic and international business development throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Because of Wilson’s extensive research for missing soldiers in the Hürtgen Forest Battle, he has been invited to the Pentagon to propose additional methodologies to search for many still-missing American soldiers.


“Pereira and Wilson have fashioned a compelling story about a battle that was doomed from the start, and what it was like to wait for decades for word of a missing relative. . . . A moving account of not just a seminal battle but the lasting effects on those waiting for decades to know what happened to their loved ones.”—David Keymer, Library Journal

“You might think that by now every story about World War II has been told. Think again. This book, based on in-depth investigative reporting, tells a compelling story that you’ve never heard about. It’s a story that has needed to be told and is one you’ll want to read.”—Joe Bergantino, cofounder of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting

“An impressive historical investigation into the battle on All Souls Day and into the men and the mystery of the lost battalion. . . . It is a remarkable and impressive effort to apply investigative journalism skills to bring to life a battle buried in the annals of World War II.”—Brett Arends, author and columnist for Dow Jones publications

“Historians usually dissect an event and then analyze its impact over time. In All Souls Day the authors do the opposite. They start with the loss felt by American families of soldiers killed under mysterious circumstances during World War II and then work their way back in time to uncover what really happened and give those families some closure. It’s an investigative masterpiece that exposes the horror of war on so many levels.”—Bruce Mohl, editor of Commonwealth Magazine: Nonprofit Journal of Politics, Ideas, and Civic Life

“Written in a style that is reminiscent of Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, the authors tell a remarkable . . . story about the lives, valor, and sacrifices of select men from the 28th Infantry Division who fought in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest but never came home. It is also a story of their families’ search for closure. This is a story every American should read to remind them that our freedom and way of life have a high price if we intend to keep it.”—Edward D. Jennings, assistant professor in the Department of Command and Leadership, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

“I attended the funeral of Staff Sergeant John J. Farrell Jr. out of respect for his service, courage, and sacrifice as an American soldier, and to show his family and fellow Hurtgen Forest veterans that loyalty and commitment between soldiers spans generations. In my mind he is an American hero. There is no nobler a cause than the preservation of a Soldier’s life through the telling of his history.”–Thomas Sellars, Brig. Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.)

“No family, no community, and no nation rests fully until its sons and daughters in arms have come home. In that spirit, we should all honor and encourage the work expressed in this book.”—Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Price of Bravery
1. Molly and Peggy
2. They Can’t Find Jack
3. If You Were Young and Strong and Male
4. Under the Gaze of a Zen Master
5. In the Stillness of a Predawn Hour
6. The Autumn of Its Reign
7. Replacement Depot No. 15
8. Tucked into the Alluvial Folds
9. Flashes of Fire Danced like Distant Lightning
10. I Felt Like a Little Napoleon 
11. Like Caskets Tossed from the Deck
12. If I Leave Now, Would It Be Desertion?
13. From the Lower Levels of Dante’s Inferno
14. Am I Wounded Badly? 
15. It Had a Bittersweet Sound
16. Zwei Amerikanische Soldaten

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