Shots Fired in Anger, George, John LTC
Several new printings of this classic book of WW2 combat are now available online. And having been asked several times if it is worth getting, the following is a note about this great book.
There are three hardbound editions of this book, first the Samworth 1947 edition, the NRA 1981 edition with added material by the author, and the Firearms Classic Library edition of 2002. The 2002 edition is the same as the 1947 but with notes. There appear to be both editions in paperback, so know which one you are buying.
John George was a student who shot with the Illinois rifle team in 1939, as a child prodigy. In 1940, at age 19, he enlisted as a private in the Illinois National Guard. He immediately volunteered to do his one year Federal Service. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1941 in his National Guard unit, and then called to active duty. He served with the 132nd Infantry Regiment on Guadalcanal from the fall of 1942 through the spring of 1943. The first part of this book is his experiences as a platoon leader as they replaced the USMC units after the Marines had been there about 45 days.
He writes of his experiences of those days in 1946 when he is in Japan on the intelligence staff of the occupation army. Some of the most accurate detailed reporting done during the war is in this book. He did this to record the actual happenings and not the PR and media stories published for the popular press. An excellent read for any military student who really wants to know what war is like on the personal level. One of the interesting things is how much freedom he had as a Lieutenant when not on patrol. While the enlisted men were on work details 12 hours a day, he was fishing and firing foreign weapons and playing sniper with his Model 70 Winchester.
Part two of the original book is an extensive evaluation of Japanese weapons, supply material and fighting strategy of the 1942/1943 era. Then an evaluation of the US weapons, supply material and why we beat them. Guadalcanal was called “Starvation Island” by the Japanese for several reasons.
The NRA edition published in 1981 includes George’s period in Burma with the Merrill’s Marauders. This is a wonderful addition that describes him from the “gung ho” off duty sniper from Guadalcanal to an experienced Infantry officer (not doing stupid things). The day to day life of the Marauders is much different than the movie. As he says, “shooting and marching and marching and shooting” are the skills of the Infantry. Everything else is “rear echelon” BS. This is the real deal, with no axes to grind or people to please when it was written in 1980 after his retirement.
Ric Bowman, 11/11/2019