Left for Dead at Nijmegen

The True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II

Marcus A. Nannini

The true story of an American paratrooper who had a unique encounter during Operation Market Garden and his experiences as a POW.
Date Published :
March 2019
Publisher :
Illustration :
60 black and white photographs and illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612006963
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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The true story of an American paratrooper who had a unique encounter during Operation Market Garden and his experiences as a POW.

Left for Dead at Nijmegen recalls the larger-than-life experiences of an American paratrooper, Gene Metcalfe, who served in the 82nd Airborne during WWII. From his recruitment into the military at Camp Grant to his training with the 501st Paratroop Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, it wasn't until D-Day itself that he first arrived in England to join the 508th PIR.

When Metcalfe boarded the C-47 which would drop him at Groesbeek Heights, just outside of Nijmegen, Holland, he was handed a box of twelve dozen condoms by an overconfident British lieutenant. He was to be among the first to jump into what should have been a picture-book meadow, free of German troops. Instead, it was defended by three German antiaircraft cannon emplacements.

As he jumped into a hail of bullets and exploding shells he watched his plane roll over and plummet into the ground. It was at that moment he realized the condoms had either been a bad joke or the planners of Operation Market Garden had seriously underestimated German resistance. Gene was listed as KIA and left for dead by his patrol, who presumed the worst when they saw his injuries from a shell explosion.

The rest of his story is equally gripping, as he became a POW held outside Munich, being moved between various camps ridden with disease and a severely undernourished population. Eventually, after making an escape attempt and being captured within sight of the snow-capped Swiss mountains, his camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.

Gene's story is both remarkable for his highly unusual encounter, and his subsequent experiences.

About The Author

Marcus Nannini was a reporter during his undergraduate years and worked as a research assistant for journalism professor and published author Richard Stocks Carlson. Nannini is a history buff with a particular interest in WWII. He has researched the background of this story and carried out many interviews over several years with Gene Metcalfe, the subject of this book. Nannini has also written a highly praised work of historical fiction, about a crew member of a Japanese midget submarine in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, Chameleons: An Untold World War II Story (2017).


1. Homework
2. Camp Grant
3. Camp Toccoa
4. Fort McClellan and Buffalo, N.Y.
5. Fort Benning/Camp Mackall
6. On the move, at last
7. Nottingham, England
8. Market Garden
9. Left for dead at Nijmegen
10. "Herr Reichsfuhrer"
11. Lent, Holland
12. Stalag XXII-A
13. Five days in hell
14. Stalag VII-A
15. Hans Schwaniger
16. Escape
17. Recapture
18. Stalag VII-A, Again!
19. Liberation
20. Paris via Munich
21. Home at last
22. Post War
23. Looking Back in Sketches


Gene Metcalfe parachuted into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. Captured, he survived a harrowing ordeal, including a meeting with Heinrich Himmler.

- Military Heritage

"A combination of battle story and POW tribulation, the book is clearly written and engaging. It paints a vivid picture of the subject's experiences, from his decision to quit school and join the Army, to his struggle for survival in a prisoner-of-war camp....There are many books about the American airborne in Market Garden; Gene's story is unique and significant."

- WWII History

“Left for Dead at Nijmegen is a stunning and beautifully written recounting of Gene Metcalfe’s experiences beginning with his life-changing decision to quit school and enlist to become a paratrooper. While the story is written by Nannini, I consistently felt Metcalfe’s presence within the telling, and the photographs included in the book increase the impact and credibility of Metcalfe’s story.”

- Jack Magnus, Readers Favorite Book Reviews

“Author Marcus A, Nannini conducted many in-depth interviews with WWII veteran, Gene Metcalfe. Left for Dead at Nijmegen sub-titled The True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II is so intriguing that it would read as a memoir if written in the first person. Gene’s personality and memory allow his story to be recreated with astounding detail.”

- AuthorsReading.com

"Left for Dead at Nijmegen: The True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II" is an extraordinary and simply riveting memoir that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly valued addition to both community and academic library World War II Military History & Biography collections."

- Midwest Book Review

"The level of research and attention to detail that went into the retelling of Eugene Metcalfe’s harrowing tale of survival is shown in spades."

- Literary Titan

"The author has researched and studied this subject in great depth, his knowledge and ability to engage and keep the interest of the reader is accomplished and proficient."

- Army Rumour Service

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