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The Last Patrol
Band of Brothers episode 8.JPG

Episode:

8

Preceded by:

"The Breaking Point"

Followed by:

"Why We Fight"

Focus:

David Webster

Subject:

Patrol at Hagenau

"The Last Patrol" is the 8th Episode of Band of Brothers. It follows the perspective of Private Webster as he recounts this episode of how the members of Easy Company, who have had a psychological toll at Bastogne, go on a patrol at Hagenau for POWs. Webster's personal memoirs were of great use for the writing of this episode.

Synopsis[]

David Webster has finally returned to the field after being injured in Holland. However, his fellow soldiers have suffered a great deal without him and resent him for failing to return sooner like other soldiers did. Another soldier, Lieutenant Jones, a new addition as a recent West Point grad, is also struggling to be accepted, quickly prevented from taking part in what may be the last field operation for the company. Using the officer, Webster may be able to rekindle his lost friendships and grant the replacement officer's wish of seeing combat.

Plot[]

The episode opens with Pvt. David Webster returning to Easy in the French town of Hagenau following a lengthy respite after his wounding at the crossroads battle in the Netherlands. The other members of Easy, having fought in Bastogne and Foy, act coldly toward him, resentful of his non-participation in those two key battles. Their attitudes stem from Webster's long stay in the hospital and his making no effort to return quickly and rejoin the company. Webster then recognizes T/4 Kevin Macken, but Macken doesn't remember Webster at first sight.

Webster then walks over to his old outfit, Easy Company's 1st Platoon, but Lieutenant Jack E. Foley didn't know who Webster is, so he explains. Webster wonders where Cpl. Donald B. Hoobler, his old friend, is. Webster isn't given any answer. Then PFC. Roy W. Cobb and SSgt. John W. Martin tell Webster to go and report to the 2nd Platoon and finds T/5. Joseph T. "Joe" Liebgott, SSgt. Donald G. Malarkey, and Private Eugene Jackson on the 2nd Platoon truck.

Liebgott says that Malarkey is going to be promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, but he means 1st Sgt. Carwood Lipton. Webster is setting himself on the truck, and Liebgott thinks Webster loved his hospital because the 101st Airborne Division left Holland four months ago.

Webster says he was at the replacement depot, and Liebgott says that he surely tried to help them at Bastogne, which Webster don't know how he possibly could have done that. Liebgott says that PFC. Robert E. "Popeye" Wynn found a way from the hospital, as did SSgt. William J. "Bill" Guarnere. "Yeah, where is Guarnere? Is he still your platoon sergeant?" Webster asks. "No," Jackson answers, "he got hit." The truck stops and they have arrived at Hagenau, and Heffron explains to Webster that Guarnere's foot was blown off at Foy.

A patrol is planned for the evening: fifteen men will cross a nearby river to capture German soldiers for intelligence retrieval. Joining the company is a young 2nd Lieutenant, Jones, who is a West Point graduate. Winning acceptance from Easy members is just as hard for the young lieutenant as Webster's attempts to rejoin them are.

Webster begins to show diplomatic skill as he convinces both Capt. Winters and Capt. Speirs to allow the combat inexperienced Lt. Jones to join the patrol, replacing the burned out Sgt. Malarkey. Webster gets Liebgott out of the patrol by telling Winters both of them speak German and that there are 16 men when Winters asked for 15. Winters commands Liebgott to remain on the Allied side of the river and provide cover fire.

The patrol crosses the river in inflatable boats; one capsizes. As they approach the building where German soldiers are camped out, a young private, Jackson, rushes into the building too soon after throwing a grenade and is seriously wounded. The rest of the platoon rushes the building and captures three Germans. As they retreat with their prisoners, the remaining German forces open fire. One of the prisoners is hit and is left on the riverbank. Arriving on the opposite side, the platoon takes Jackson and the prisoners to the basement of battalion headquarters. Several of the men, still feeling the adrenaline effects of the mission, are ready to kill the prisoners in retaliation for Jackson, who dies while being treated by Doc Roe. Lt. Jones is able to restore order.

The next morning, Winters and Speirs observe the building mined with explosives planted during the patrol. Lt. Col. Sink commands that another patrol be scheduled for that night. Capt. Winters meets with the men later and explains this patrol will involve going deeper into the enemy encampment for more prisoners. He tells them that the patrol will leave at 2:00 a.m., but then commands them to get a full night's sleep, and to report to him that they went on patrol but unfortunately were unable to take any prisoners. The men are relieved.

Because they took part in an active combat firefight, both young Lt. Jones and Webster are now accepted as full members of Easy Company. Webster is welcomed back into Easy as they leave Hagenau.

Casualties and Deaths[]

Trivia[]

  • Forrest Guth's role in the patrol as the interpreter in Hagenau was replaced by David Kenyon Webster. In reality, Webster was not on that patrol but was involved in the patrol assigned to cover the patrol from across the river with an M1919 Browning.
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