Field Marshal Birkeland was drafted into the army in 1917 and served in World War I.
“A Brilliant Operation” a book by Birkeland’s grandson, Jeffery Birkeland of Minneapolis who grew up in Carpio, follows the National Army’s 362nd Infantry Regiment “for twenty intense months of active service during the First World War.”
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
“I wrote the book because my grandfather, Marshal Birkeland, was in the 362nd Infantry”, Jeffery Birkeland said in an email.
Birkeland further explains his book:
“The story follows farmers, cowboys, miners and store clerks from several western states who responded to their conscription notices and who would eventually coalesce into an infantry regiment, receiving their training base at Camp Lewis, Washington, before being deployed to France, where they ventured into the abyss of the Western Front with General Pershing’s First American Army, engaging heavily in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive with the 91st Infantry Division. Then, one afternoon in late September outside the village of Gesnes-en-Romagne, their lingering attachments to the war novel, as well as their innocence, died at the hands of the Boches. Bringing the stories of these Western soldiers is the intertwining of their diaries, letters and official reports into an account of their daily trials, mixed with photos and maps to visually follow their journey.These stories propel the reader through the trenches bou and in troop trains reeking of horse manure. There are rat-infested billets and gas-soaked field rations. Along the way, hope and despair push men towards the November armistice and beyond. Eventually they returned home where, after cheers and well-meaning handshakes, the men were left reminiscing with an unspoken expectation that they would reintegrate into a society unable to understand who they had become. With this promise, “A Brilliant Operation” honors the sacrifices this great generation made during their world war.
Marshall Birkeland was born in Minneapolis and, at age 10, moved to Carpio with his family in 1901, his grandson said.
He said his grandfather later ended up in Great Falls, Montana, where he was drafted in 1917. After the war, he eventually bought a farm near the farm. He died in 1980. This farm and the farm are still in the family, said Jeffery Birkeland.
Jeffery Birkeland grew up on a farm and graduated from Carpio High School in 1985. After graduation, he joined the military and trained as a Korean linguist, serving in Korea and California with some trips to Panama. After the military, he attended North Dakota State University, Fargo, and earned his degree in history before moving to Minneapolis where he lives with his wife and two children and currently works at a financial institution.
“I am a member of the Donnybrook American Legion Post and try to get home every year to attend their Memorial Day Ceremony,” he said.
Regarding research for his book, Birkeland said he had been collecting information for many years.
“Much of it came from the DC National Archives. Then, in 1998, I traveled to France with my wife and visited the areas where my grandfather had been. In 2014, I returned to the battlefields of Argonne and Flanders, this time with my father and my 12 year old son. Three generations of Birkelands followed the route of the deceased 4th generation. When I got home, I played with the information I had gathered, and as the centenary approached, I decided it was now or never to publish a book. I spent the next two years writing the book and figuring out how to self-publish,” said Birkeland. He said it was “a fun adventure” and he’s pretty happy with how it all turned out.
“A brilliant operation” is available on Amazon and Main Street Books in Minot.