Ed DeVos, left, author and speaker at the September North Georgia Veterans luncheon,
Author weaves characters into WWII novel
The date when World War II started depends on where in the world you lived, Ed DeVos, decorated military officer and author of five historical novels, told the North Georgia Veterans (NGV) group at its Sept. 27 luncheon at The Big Canoe Clubhouse at Lake Sconti.
The date would be 1931 if you lived in Manchuria when the Japanese invaded. If you lived in Ethiopia in 1935, the war started then when Italy invaded. If you lived in China the war started in 1937 when the Japanese invaded China and “murdered” 250,000 people, according to DeVos.
“Let somebody else take care of it,” DeVos said was the attitude in America at that time. The Germans invaded Poland in 1939, the beginning of their WWII. In 1940, Germany went after England and France. Bombing raids killed over 10,000 in England. Then Germany attacked Russia.
“We were sort of leaning a little bit—but not much—toward doing something then,” DeVos said. “In March 1941 the Lend Lease Act was passed, barely, in congress to send supplies to England and Russia.
“We were really at war,” DeVos said. “The Lend Lease provided for trucks and ammunition and that sort of thing to those two countries."
In June 1941, 134 Merchant Marine ships set sail for England and Russia. Only 34 made it there. The rest were torpedoed by German submarines, DeVos told the group.
“In December 7, 1941 everything changed,” he said. “The population of our country at Pearl Harbor at the time was 134 million. About 65 million were men and 65 million were women. Of that 65 million men, about one-third were too young to serve. About one-third were too old to serve. So we had this school of about 20 million men for WWII.
“How many served in uniform in WWII - 16.4 million. Eighty percent. About 465,000 women served. Virtually every family was affected.”
DeVos gave a perspective of the war effort in the U.S. In January 1942, the U.S. government said no more new cars and the automobile industry was converted over to build tanks, bombers, etc. Between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. built 95,000 bombers, 85,000 fighters, and 65,000 ships of varying sizes. You could not get tires for your car and all food was rationed.
“When I think about that I think what would our country be like today if we faced something like that,” DeVos said.
In the context of the beginning of the war, DeVos wrote “Family of Warriors”, a novel about five brothers who serve in five different locations in WWII, each based on five men, “two of which I am related to, one of which I interviewed and the other two guys I know their story,” DeVos said.
DeVos told of the plight of his characters interlaced with true historical events of World War II, starting with Pearl Harbor and the Philippines debacle; the heartbreak of soldiers who returned home to wives who had given up hope that they would ever see them again and remarried; of the wounded returning to lengthy rehabilitation; of younger brothers who follow their sibling to war; the horrors of the D-Day invasion; the fear and uncertainty that comes with becoming a prisoner of war.
Of those who have served, DeVos quoted from “We Got’em”, written by Steve Russell, a battalion commander who addressed a large group of soldiers:
“Some day your peers will look at their lives and wish they were you. When our nation called for you, you answered. Regardless of what people may think of your service or the war, nobody can take that away from you or what you achieved. As decades pass and we grow older we must remember not only what we accomplished but the cost as well. Only we carry the memory of the fallen. It is us who know the faces, the smiles, the stories, the sacrifice. To many they are just names but as long as we have breath they will live.”
DeVos spoke to the veterans group last year and introduced his book, “Revenge at Kings Mountain.” He is also the author of “The Stain,” and “The Chaplain’s Cross.”
The North Georgia Veterans will host a Veterans Day event Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Big Canoe Chapel at 11:00 a.m.
The North Georgia Veterans organization is open to all veterans, anyone who has served in any branch of Service, in any capacity, for any period of time. All that is required is an honorable discharge. Registration is required for the NGV monthly luncheon at the Big Canoe Clubhouse. Please visit the website www.ngvets.org to register.