The Boys of Diamond Hill; My Darling Boys

Being there . . . . for two inordinately compelling, nay, riveting, farm family sagas sending their
sons into battle, first, the American Civil War, and in the second, World War II. In the first, “The
Boys of Diamond Hill – The Lives and Civil War Letters of the Boyd Family of Abbeville County,
South Carolina”, in its young life already a Second Edition and Winner of the Military Writers
Society of America Award, to say nothing of four and five star praise from a variety of news
outlets, deals with the Daniel and Pressley Boyd brothers leaving their farms to join the
Confederate Army – with their two younger brothers, Thomas and Andrew, soon in pursuit. The
following updated version includes over 30 hitherto unpublished letters. The Military Writers
Society of America wrote in its citation, “A handsome book . . . well-researched, well-
documented, and beautifully presented . . . brings their experiences to life as only first-hand
accounts can do.” The Lone Star Book Review issued a three-word recommendation, “A WOW
Rating.” Fortunately, mom and dad, and the rest of the Boyd family didn’t receive a “Bixby-type
letter” from their president, Abraham Lincoln, eulogizing the simultaneoul
Reviewed and highly recommended by Don DeNevi
“THE BOYS of DIAMOND HILL – – The Lives and Civil War Letters of the Boyd Family of Abbeville
County, South Carolina”, Second Edition, Edited by J. Keith Jones, Foreword by Richard B.
McCaslin. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers: Second Edition, 2024, First Edition, 20ll; 6” x
8 ¾”; softcover, $39.95. Visit, www.mcfarlandpub.com.
Daniel, Pressley, Thomas and Andrew, who, with the addition of brother-in-law, Fenton Hall,
fought collectively in virtually every theater of the Civil War, and witnessed almost every aspect
of soldiers’ lives, from death and illness to friendly fire and desertion. By the end of the war,
only Daniel had survived. Keith Jones, the author of five books, is still discovering information
about the family’s background, the fates of the Boyd brothers and other family members. There
can be no question the letters, vibrant, raw in narration, exceedingly rich in personally observed
detail are some of the best and most interesting emanating from the Civil War
“MY DARLING BOYS: A FAMILY AT WAR, 1941 – 1947”, by Fred H. Allison. University of North
Texas Press, Denton, Texas: 2023, 25l pages, 6 ¼” x 9 1/4”, hardcover, $34.95. Visit,
www.untpress.unt.edu.
The US never adopted a comprehensive manpower program. By 1944, the American draft
reached most young men while their physical standards remained high. Draft boards were
reluctant to take fathers or men under 19; if drafted they were rarely sent to combat
formations. Thus, it was that three precious farm boys who could have played safe, most likely
in war jobs with very high pay on the home front, chose instead to go to war. No coercion was
used. They would fight for our country rather than be among the 10.1 million male workers
who safely watched the German and Japanese nations surrender, although that night 85 to 95
% of those who worked in munitions factories were dismissed.

In brief, this captivating story, “My Darling Boys”, we learn how it was that three sons from
one farm family in the Pecos River Valley of eastern New Mexico near Hagerman at the
outbreak of World War II decided to fly fighter planes for the Army Air Forces than work in a
nearby factory. Not until 1973 did one of the boys, Oscar Allison, a young B-24 top turret
gunner and flight engineer between 1943 and 1945, write ‘Memories of World War II’, still an
unpublished manuscript. In it, as here in Chapters 7, 8, and 9, Allison described how on a
mission over Regensburg, Germany, his bomber, riddled by new Luftwaffe fighters, went down.
Miraculously, he survived, albeit quickly captured, enduring almost 16 months in Hitler’s stalag
prisons. That priceless 1973 memoir, cogent yet enthralling even then, became the initial
source for “My Darling Boys”. From the memoir he retells the minutia of training, first combats,
and pow experiences.

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