Marking the arrival of his latest Casemate title, Frank van Lunteren took some time to tell us a little more about himself and Spearhead of the 5th Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio. This work is the third by Van Lunteren on the 504th P.I.R. In World War II following The Battle of the Bridges and Blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Arnhem, the Netherlands – famous for the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. My late paternal grandfather experienced the battle as a civilian and started to talk about it after some fifty years.
Could you tell us a bit about any history of military service in your family? In what ways was the military part of your life from an early age?
My paternal great grandfather was in the neutral Royal Dutch Army during WWI, my maternal grandfather served in the Royal Dutch Navy in the 1930s and a cousin of my paternal grandfather served in the Dutch East-Indies in 1947-1950. Other than that there is no recent military service in my family.
What kinds of books did you read growing up? Which had the greatest impact on you?
Classic novels like Rosemary Sutcliffe’s “Robin Hood” and “The Eagle of the Ninth”, Jack Bennett’s “The Voyage of the Lucky Dragon”, James Fenimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”, “Kipnapped” and “The Black Arrow”. In other words many novels about historical events or inspired by historical times.
What did you do before you started (or in addition to) writing? Did you have any odd jobs?
I am a board member of the Arnhem Historical Society Prodesse Conamur since 2010 and I work as a fulltime history teacher and chair of the History Department at CSG Het Streek High school in Ede, the Netherlands.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer? What is it about writing that appealed to you?
Actually from early age on. I already wrote short stories as a child and when I was about ten years old I knew that I wanted to study history and become an author. What fascinated me was the fact that I wanted to record events that I had never witnessed, but in describing them could better understand – like the Battle of Arnhem. This led as a college and later university student into my interest in the US paratroopers in World War Two.
Why did you decide to write these books? What prompted you to put this story down on paper?
Veteran Francis Keefe (I Company) asked me in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania after I had given a speech on the Waal River Crossing to expand my research and book on A Company to the entire 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He offered to tell his story and persuade some others to do the same. This inspired me to give it a try. I have not regretted that commitment. Keeping their memories alive and reconstructing what really happened prompted me to write the book. What happened to the 644 KIA’s? Where, when and how were they killed? I realized I had a kind of a mission: if I waited too long many answers on those questions would fade away with the slow demise of the surviving WWII veterans.
The 504th at Market Garden
The author’s current projects include a number of articles on the liberation of his home town in April 1945 and preparing other books on the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War Two. Articles from his hand appeared in The Static Line Magazine, After The Battle and the Arnhems Historisch Tijdschrift. Van Lunteren is honory member of both the Colonel Reuben Tucker Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association and No.36 Branch of the Normandy Veterans Association. He is chair of the History Department of CSG Het Streek in Ede and resides in Arnhem – the famous town of the Battle of Arnhem – where is a board member of the Arnhem Historical Society Prodesse Conamur. For his research on the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment he was made honorary life member of the 504th PIR Association in September 2014.
Corporal Francis McLane of I Company was severely wounded when ‘the Factory’ at Anzio was shelled on February 5, 1944. Photo courtesy of the McLane family.
Spearhead of the 5th Army: The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Italy, from the Winter Line to Anzio, The Battle of the Bridges and Blocking Kampfgruppe can be found at www.casematepublishers.com, and everywhere fine books are sold.