Not Forgotten by Gregory Hall


Gregory Hall’s father served as a paratrooper in the U. S. Army Airborne division that liberated the Japanese Internment Camp at Los Banos in the Philippines where more than 2,000 American, Australian, and British civilians were being held.

Not Forgotten (Trafford, 504 pp., $37.25, hardcover; $31, paper; $9.99, Kindle) is a novel about this event—“a compilation of a number of years of research and the cooperation of numerous individuals who deserve recognition,” Hall, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America, tells us.

The author is a former Army 82nd Airborne paratrooper.  Not Forgotten “has been a work of passion” for him. The desire to write it, he says, goes back to 1976 when he was stationed at Fort Bragg. His father, like many World War II veterans, rarely talked about the war. Hall took advantage of being in an airborne division and began researching his father’s unit. The day that the prisoners were rescued was February 23, 1945, the same day the American flag was raised on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima by the U. S. Marines.

This enthralling novel carefully introduces the reader to the characters we’ll get to know much better in the next few hundred pages. These people come alive on the page. Most are clueless that war with Japan is a few days away and that they will be heavily involved in it. The author well communicates the security and entitlement of Americans in the Philippines—the women caught up in the excitement of shopping for dresses, for example, just a short time before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor—and then the Philippines.


Gregory Hall 

I’ve read many accounts of how the Japanese treated prisoners of war during World War II. This novel does a good job with that. There are many beheadings and other unnecessary acts of cruelty by the Japanese. The novel also shows that all the Allied prisoners were not ennobled by being captives. There was some compassion and kindness along with much cruelty on their part, too.

The book leads up to the liberation of the camp, done in just the nick of time, as the Japanese were preparing a site for a mass grave for the prisoners. The heroic rescue is well-portrayed and exciting. There is a History Channel documentary on the liberation. I hope to get to see it one day. Gregory Hall was much involved in preparing that doc, so I am certain it is well worth seeing.

I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to those interested in a historical depiction of the cruelty of war, leavened with some small kindness.

The author’s website is

—David Willson

Le Havre: A Riveting Expose For Our World Today by Pierre Gerard

Pierre Gerard’s Le Havre: A Riveting Expose For Our World Today: The French Resistance in World War II: A Historical War Romance Novel (Merriam Press, 286 pp., $18.95) has been published posthumously. A Vietnam veteran, Pierre Gerard served in the U.S. Army in Soc Trang during his 1967-68 tour of duty.

His family has a distinguished military history. Gerard was raised an Air Force brat by his Strategic Air Command pilot father and French mother, a native of Le Havre. Those facts enrich his writing.

This historical novel follows dual protagonists, Ti-Jean Campion and Marie-Claude Le Goff, life-long citizens of the French seaport Le Havre, which was occupied from 1940-45 by the Germans during World War II. At the start of the war, French citizens in this idyllic seaside city had fresh memories of the defeat of Germany in World War I.

“The lifestyle of Le Havre’s local population, for the most part, remained the same,” Gerard writes. “Ration cards, breadlines, and the Marche’ noir, or black market, were thus far not harsh realities of life.” They reasoned “maybe the Germans were not so bad. Maybe we could live in peace with them during the occupation of the city.”

Things soon changed. The two young protagonists are consumed with their love for each other—and with preserving free France, along with fellow Resistance fighters, Les Chevalier du Normandy. They often meet at Le Chat Noir,The Black Cat, planning strategy and sipping espresso and in their more-secluded safe house away from Gestapo prying eyes.

This suspense-filled story alternates between 1999 and the years of occupation with vivid descriptions of Le Havre in war and peace. Such as: “Ti-Jean continued to walk toward the end of the walkway. The sun began to show through the puffy, white clouds turning the brown sandy beach into an artist’s palette of oranges, reds, and blues mixed with the rainbow of colors of the latest designer swimwear.”
And: ” The two lovers gradually drifted off to a dreamless sleep, leaving the phantasmagoric world they existed in behind for a better place without threat or harm. Marie-Claude closed her eyes tightly and tenderly touched her lover’s face with her graceful fingers.”

The German invaders ruthlessly took homes and food and any creature comforts they desired from the citizens of Le Havre. German officer, sipping brandy and looking out the bay window at a beautiful villa shouted at his aide, ” I want that villa by the end of the cliff to be appropriated: evict the family living there.”

The German Navy moved a U-Boat into the city harbor and covered it with camouflage, protecting it from possible deconstruction by allied bombers. The Resistance had to find out what surprise the U-Boat Captain was planning. The fate of the harbor city of Le Havre— and perhaps all of Europe—hinged on the what lay hidden in the hold of the German U-Boat.

This novel is magnificent and tragic. Ce roman est magnifique et tragique.

—Curt Nelson