D-Day Cover Up At Pointe Du Hoc Volume II

D-Day Cover Up At Pointe Du Hoc Volume II

Gary Sterne
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
D-Day Cover Up At Pointe Du Hoc is a two-volume book which describes the training and preparation of the 2nd and 5th Battalions of the US Rangers and their attack on the Pointe du Hoc gun battery on D-Day; I read the second volume which covers 1st May to 10th June 1944. The author, Gary Sterne, has examined the Rangers’ mission and its execution and why it did not conduct it fully and why the commander, Lt Col James Rudder, made the changes he did.

The books’ premise (I’m taking it as a given that the two volumes reinforce each other) is that the Rangers did not complete their mission on D-Day and that Rudder engineered his opportunity to lead the assault. Volume II covers the last phase of training and the assault itself; not having read Volume I required me to make a few assumptions from what I was reading which was rather annoying (but not the author’s fault!).

It would appear from the author’s research that the Rangers did not complete their D-Day mission: there was a second gun battery at Maisy down the coast which they should have assaulted on D-Day (which the author has located and renovated after it had been effectively hidden for decades). This was not due to casualties sustained or any failure at Pointe du Hoc but through a deliberate choice by Rudder. Sterne has also calculated that deliberately hid intelligence on the Pointe du Hoc (the fact that there were no guns there) and amended his orders without telling his own troops about the mission to assault Maisy. Part of this was to ensure that the Rangers had a role on D-Day: the assault on the Pointe du Hoc required a cliff assault (and thus the Rangers); an assault on Maisy could have been done by line infantry straight over the beach.

The level of detail to which Sterne goes to is quite incredible. There are literally pages and pages of documents (in their original format) with a superb collection of maps as issued for planning and photographs from training and the operation. These all help build his case and prove his points with great clarity and skill but can be wearisome to read through, especially as Sterne then refers to key sections expecting the reader to have read them.

This is an excellent book that makes an excellent case for its premise as to why the Rangers did not complete their mission on D-Day, why Rudder made the changes he did and why the US Army covered it up. That said, each book costs £40 and is some 500 pages; I’ve not read Volume I but I imagine that Sterne has the same approach in packing the data in and this, whilst helping him make his case, does make it heavy going (both literally and figuratively). The combination of the cost (£80 for the pair) and this weighty style makes it a heavy read.

Therefore, recommending this book is a touch tricky. If you’re interested in examining one of the most famous D-Day assaults (and the undoubted courage and skill of the Rangers who made it) and some of the previously unknown events behind it, then these are the books for you. If you have only a passing interest, then I should accept the author’s premise at face value and keep moving.

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