The 157th infantry in the 45th division during World War II saw 511 days of combat and was part of some of the fiercest fighting with numerous casualties. This infantry began the war with the landings on the beaches of Italy, continued into France, which then led them into Germany and the Dachau Concentration Camp where they liberated the few survivors. The story of the 157th is filled with both tragedy and triumph and cannot be separated from the lives of the men who fought so bravely, yet even with so many heroes there is one man that stood out and his name was Felix Sparks.
Sparks entered the war as a second lieutenant leaving behind his pregnant wife and his dreams of a college education. He would be with the 157th the entire war and experienced fighting on the front lines when leading his men in the assaults. By the war’s end he had risen to the rank of colonel and received numerous medals and would be remembered as caring for his men’s safety – even risking his own life to save them.
The Liberator by Alex Kershaw is an account of both the 157th and Spark’s march through a war-torn Europe and their incredible tenacity as they fought through line after line of German soldiers. This book is a testament to their sacrifice with extensive interviews and research; it is not a romantic view of the war, but a frank portrayal of the brutality and consequences. Kershaw is also the acclaimed author of other books about World War II including The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter.