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1,271 Days a Soldier: The Diaries and Letters of Colonel H. E. Gardiner as an Armor Officer in World War II

Front cover image of 1,271 Days a Solider (UNG Press, 2021). A close-up of Colonel Henry E. Gardiner during his World War II service.


Henry E. Gardiner


Dominic J. Caraccilo

Foreword by

Lieutenant General (Ret.) H. R. McMaster



Print Version



1,271 Days a Soldier: The Diaries and Letters of Colonel H.E. Gardiner as an Armored Officer in World War II is one soldier’s record of the Second World War. Henry E. Gardiner’s collection recalls the first-hand experiences of an operational level ranking officer from the prelude of war to fighting in the African and European theaters, from the shock of the initial volley of violence during the December 7, 1941, Day of Infamy radio broadcast to the final days of the war while operating on the soft underbelly of Hitler's Europe. 1,271 Days a Soldier is written with all the emotion of someone who endured nearly four years of high-intensity conflict coupled with long periods of boredom and interjected with periods of frivolity.

Detailed footnotes, photographs, and maps throughout the diary provide context for each journal entry so readers and historians gain a better appreciation of the full spectrum of war that was unfolding at any given time in the work.

1,271 Days a Soldier is an official AUSA Book Program title.

About the Editor

Colonel (Retired) Dominic J. Caraccilo served nearly six years in combat in command roles culminating a 27-year career as the Deputy Commander of the 101st Airborne Division. His 65 months of combat during multiple deployments including Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Kosovo, and a series of deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq spanning from 2001 to 2010. During that time, Caraccilo produced many other books including Achieving Victory in Iraq: Countering an Insurgency (Stackpole Books, 2008), Beyond Guns and Steel: A War Termination Strategy (PSI, 2011), and Forging a Special Operations Force: The US Army Rangers (Helion & Company, 2015). Like 1,271 Days a Soldier, the latter two were sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army as part of the AUSA Book Program. In retirement, Caraccilo has had extensive C-Level, Director, and Management experience for companies including various consulting firms, Amazon, Facebook, and Parsons Corporation. He currently is the Director for Data Center Operations at Microsoft.

About the Author

Henry Edward (H. E.) Gardiner enlisted in Troop C (popularly known as The Chicago Black Horse Troop) on November 25, 1935, and was serving his second enlistment as a sergeant when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on June 11, 1940 and was later promoted to a First Lieutenant on August 23, 1940. He was called to active duty on November 25, 1940, when Troop “C” of the 106th Cavalry was inducted into Federal Service. Gardiner was promoted to major on October 21, 1942, and then lieutenant colonel on January 27, 1943. He served as a battalion commander and regimental executive officer until his discharge at the rank of colonel in October 1945.

In February 1943, then-Lieutenant Colonel Gardiner was awarded the nation’s second highest combat award, the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), for actions as a Lieutenant Colonel in command of a squadron in North Africa.


Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster served as National Security Adviser from 2017–2018, culminating a distinguished military career as a combat leader and soldier/statesman. Lieutenant General McMaster was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star with V, and the Purple Heart in a career that saw service in the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where he commanded the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. A West Point graduate, he holds a doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina and is the author of the award-winning Dereliction of Duty.

AUSA Book Program

As a partner to the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Book Program, UNG Press will aid AUSA’s educational mission by producing high-quality books to be designated as “AUSA Books.” These books will address such subjects as military land power and land warfare history, technology, combat, and strategy and tactics. This curated collection will serve to help and educate members of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, the AUSA, U.S. government officials, and the general public. To further these goals, AUSA will promote UNG Press’s AUSA Books by linking them to AUSA’s website, listing them in AUSA publications as a member benefit, and reviewing them in ARMY magazine or other AUSA publications.

Press Kit/Reviews

Read a sample chapter of 1,271 Days a Soldier (PDF)
Download 1,271 Days s Soldier’s press kit (PDF)


"A dramatic, compelling, and poignant chronicle of the European theater of WWII by Colonel H. E. Gardiner, one of the few officers to experience America’s role in the fighting from its beginning in north Africa to its end in northern Italy. Colonel (Ret.) Dominic J. Caraccilo’s compilation and editing of Colonel H. E. Gardiner’s diaries comprise an invaluable addition to the first-person accounts of the war—and reflect the insights and knowledge Caraccilo accumulated during his nearly six years in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. 1,271 DAYS A SOLDIER is a riveting and thoroughly engrossing read!"

—General (Retired) David Petraeus, U.S. Army, former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, U.S. Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former Director of the CIA

"Dominic J. Caraccilo has captured Gardiner’s disparate diary entries and personal letters into a cohesive work. The Gardiner chronicles have been a staple for researchers and authors for the past 75 years for studies on the stateside preparation for deployment, Northern Ireland posturing, and the eventual formidable battles of Kasserine Pass, Rome, Cassino, Anzio, and the various fights across Northern Italy. Because of Caraccilo’s expert editing and cross-referencing, they are now available to researchers, historians, and lay-readers as a must own and a must read."

—Lieutenant General (Retired) Robert Caslen, U.S. Army, 59th Superintendent United States Military Academy, 29th President University of South Carolina

"Dominic J. Caraccilo’s work skillfully illustrates the remarkable transformation experienced by Henry Gardiner: from horse cavalryman to armor battalion command; from the Louisiana Maneuvers to VE Day on the Italian Front; from untested civilian-soldier to decorated combat veteran. This narrative personalizes one soldier’s story and illuminates why Gardiner and comrades are regarded as The Greatest Generation."

—Lieutenant General (Retired) Michael D. Barbero, U.S. Army
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