by Gary Sterne
The History of the 2nd & 5th US Army Rangers, 1st May – 10th June 1944
This is a very special book. Actually it is part 2 in the series and I don’t have Part 1, but that didn’t bother me, really.
The book is written with over 4 years of research and large part of it is taken up by prints of original documents that have now been declassified, after almost 75 years. Reading (and sometimes deciphering) those documents is nothing less than mesmerizing. The author’s narrative linking all the documents together is very helpful, as are the texts written by actual participants of the US Rangers at the time.
The book is thick and heavy with well over 1100 pages to go through and I haven’t read all the documents included, skipping some altogether. Not because they wouldn’t be interesting or because I am too lazy to, but because of curiosity and hence a certain level of haste as to how the story developed. I will go back to it no doubt for more details and to search for specific bits of information.
And even as we all know what happened – or according to the author THINK we do -, it still is breathtaking. ALSO because there are new facts coming to light after the study of the documents. The title of the book is a bit of a giveaway in that respect .
Having been following publications about the Normandy landings for many decades, I think I can say I know a lot about that bit of history. BUT……. the documents shown here are unique in the sense that I have not seen so many together covering one small part of Operation Neptune. The level of detail of planning, analysis, the meetings covered, the reports….. all this emphasizes the enormous amount of thinking, planning and organizing that went into this operation…… without computers, without our modern fast ways of communication.
It simply remains mind blowing, no matter how often I read about it.
And that’s NOT to take anything away from the men and boys that actually carried out all that was planned and practiced. We all know the enormous sacrifices of them. But I remain in awe about the complexity of the operations and planning them.
I read a book a few years ago about the logistics and planning of the Gulf War back In 1991. It was hailed as the biggest logistics operation in history, as an incredible feat. Well, nothing bad about the Schwarzkopf campaign, but I remain convinced that nothing in history has ever topped the Operation Overlord and Neptune.
This book just reinforces that opinion.
On starting reading it and going through the first, oh, 150 pages or so, I was slightly afraid that it would ONLY be pictures of documents with one-liners connecting them, interspersed with dozens of detailed maps (which I LOVE, by the way!). But nothing is less true, and it soon changed with the author getting up to steam and providing more and more to read.
But now to the subtitle ‘cover-up’. I must admit I was intrigued by that word and a bit puzzled when finishing the first part of the book, because I couldn’t place that expression. It all became clear when the author started explaining. He reckons that based upon all the documents he researched that there has been a cover-up of the real facts of the actions of the Rangers. A cover-up that lasted for more than 70 years.
Whether or not it is true, and what would have been the real motives if so…. I will leave that to the reader. Nor will I spoil the fun by explaining here what his theory is. But he reckons that history has been distorted for all these years, and has been wrongly taught and represented to us all these years. Suffice to say that the German coastal battery at Grandcamp-Maisy plays a key role in it all.
And during his research the author discovered that this complex of bunkers still existed at Maisy, but was completely buried in the ground. Covered-up as well. He bought the terrain and started to dig, ultimately revealing the Maisy Battery.
He has since made it a museum (and a struggling one as I understand it) where visitors can enter the fully intact bunkers and trenches. You can find all information about this on the dedicated website www.maisybattery.com
Even without the remarkable revelations, the thing that the author is most excited about, but which seems also to attract some controversy among ‘ experts’, this book is extremely interesting and chock full of great documents! I think it is a must have for any and all WW2 D-Day ‘fans’ and researchers, no matter. Very much recommended !!!
The book can be purchased from the publisher right here !
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Published: 8th January 2019