Portraits from Our Past:
Southwest Virginia Authors
Ross S. Carter (1919 - 1947)

Ross Carter's book Those Devils In Baggy Pants is a portrayal of the life of Company C of the 504 Parachute Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. Carter, born and raised in Duffield, Virginia, was one of three men out of 40 who survived hand-to-hand combat at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

Carter took the title for his book from a diary found on a German soldier. The diary accounted how the German's feared paratroopers whom they called Devils in Baggy Pants. The paratroopers were shock troops: they were keyed up for their jumps, which generally landed them behind the enemy's lines. They were trained to be resourceful and did their most spectacular fighting in small independent groups.

The book Those Devils In Baggy Pants is about the men of the 82nd Airborne—their own private war, a battle of hand-to-hand combat, diseases, and the death of so many buddies. You see them enter the war with fearful, young eyes, fuzzy checks and impatient strides. You see them leave the war with tired sagging faces, long beards and five years of age for every month of combat. You learn that Ross Carter, who lived and wrote the story, was one of these youngsters who faced death bravely and faced life with a grain of salt. He was an ordinary paratrooper, with ordinary buddies, whose every-day achievements lifted them to epic fame.

Those Devils in Baggy Pants was published in 1951 by Appleton Century Crofts and was a best seller. The book appeared in condensed form in the October 1951 issue of Reader's Digest in the U.S., England, Canada and Australia and in French, Spanish, Dutch and Danish editions of the Reader's Digest in February 1952. The book was reviewed in Harper's, The Atlantic, Saturday Review of Literature, The New York Times Magazine and scores of other publications.

Those Devils in Baggy Pants was highly praised by both literary critics and military men. The book remains highly relevant. Those Devils in Baggy Pants is required reading for U.S. military paratroopers graduating from paratrooper training. The book is considered to be one of the very best World War II books ever written.


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