by: Fay Baker [ ]
I am sure that everyone has spent a lazy Sunday afternoon watching a war film, but how many people give a second thought for those who took part in this most troubled time in the 20th century. More importantly - how do you train and manage to keep everything a secret from the enemy, while moving thousands of soldiers around the country?
This hard back book contains 492 pages and is volume one of a two part set. The book is printed on high quality paper with many black and white photographs and copies of records. Written by Gary Sterne and published by Pen and Sword retailing at £35.00 in book shops but on the publishers website it retails for £28.00. This volume follows the 2nd and 5th Rangers from their arrival in England in 1943. After their arrival this very fascinating book follows the Rangers rigorous training with the Royal Navy and the Commandos. This training consisted of cliff climbing, assault landings and a ‘dress rehearsal’ of what they could expect on D-Day.
This publication consists of 7 chapters:
The Formation of the Rangers
Training: September - November 1943
December 1943 - Rangers USA and UK
January 1944 - Rangers reunited
February 1944 - Planning for D-Day
March 1944 - Commando Training
April 1944 - Operation Neptune and Ranger Training
All of the records are presented in chronological order, and as they were originally written. Many of the records are still marked as Top Secret, and have only recently been de-classified. These documents, as well as aerial reconnaissance photographs of the different objectives - Omaha Beach, Pointe Du Hoc, Maisy and Pointe et Raz de la Percee and French Resistance reports. These documents detail the information given to the Commander of the Rangers and the author Gary Sterne weaves everything together to fill the gaps that for years many have only guessed at what the Rangers true objectives were on D-Day.
Volume 2 of this set continues the story of the Rangers. This book is a culmination of 4 years of detailed research, and shows how the author followed the clues to find a no holds barred account of what went on at Pointe Du Hoc.
I found this book to be very insightful, as it challenges what really happened to the Rangers on D-Day. I particularly like how the documents are set out, on page 343 there is even a plan on how the Rangers vehicles were to be loaded on to the landing craft for D-Day. Because of the age of the technology used in the 1940s to copy documents (carbon paper) some of the documents are a little faint, but this I feel does not detract from the narrative of this publication. If you are a local resident of the areas that were used during this period, then there are references to areas in Dorset and Devon where the Rangers trained. I am looking forward to reading volume 2 of this work.