World: For Dear Life

There was deadly certainty in every Allied move, whether studied or daring. There was a sense of finality, of nearing climax: this grand offensive might be the last big battle in the west.

Scottish veterans of far-off El Alamein heard it in the whine of shells, and they skirled bagpipes and sang Annie Laurie as they crossed the Rhine. Canadians who remembered their dead at Dieppe could scent victory in the smoke. U.S. doughboys, who had learned bitterly before the Roer and in the Ardennes that pessimism could also be a virtue, spilled out...

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