REVIEW: Allied Intelligence and the Cover up at Pointe Du Hoc by Gary Sterne

Book Review of Allied Intelligence and the Cover Up at Pointe Du Hoc: The History of the 2nd & 5th US Army Rangers, 1943 – 30th April 1944 by Gary Sterne (978-1526752222). 

A researcher’s book that details the intelligence gathered prior to the D-Day Landings that reveal the depth of Allied Intelligence estimates that ultimately set the tone for the largest and greatest amphibious and airborne assault in history. Loaded with tones od detailed maps, recon phots, German troop deployments, written orders, detailed intelligence on the Normandy coast, Germany’s western wall and its numerous layers of defense designed to deter any allied landings on the coast.  The point of view of the intelligence detail is told from the perspective of the 2nd and 5th Rangers who would go on to assault Pointe Du Hoc in a dramatic head on frontal assault up shear cliffs. This is the stuff of legends. When straight leg infantry soldiers heard of these assault troopers, they either cringed in horror and kicked themselves for not volunteering for the training and assignment to this type of unit that would take on a seawall cliff, before, assaulting the German troops assigned to defend it.

The Cover Up at Pointe Du Hoc - Gary SterneThis is Volume 1 of a series that puts the reader in the point of view of 2nd and 5th Rangers as they formed up in the US and deployed to the UK to train. Their training was provided by British Commandos and Royal Navy specialist who knew their way around the sea coasts of UK and Normandy and were practiced in the art of the stealth penetration and the silent kill. This book, “described by US Historians as one of the most detailed works about the D-Day Rangers ever written.”

The diary entries in the book by the Rangers tell the story of life in the UK during the train-up periods for D-Day. A lot of detail about how the soldiers were billeted with British citizens in the area and how they became acclimatized to the people and terrain of the coast. The Army and British authorities went to great lengths publishing papers and training circulars that ensured that the American knew what life in the UK was like and how to get along with the locals. These documents went to great length to explain the disparity of US life versus UK life and how the soldiers should conduct themselves while staying with their guests. Of course, there were times when the Rangers and other soldiers got out of hand. These incidents were handled swiftly and with a degree of respect always siding on caution and the concept of getting along with your gracious hosts.

Rangers rest atop the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, which they stormed in support of the Omaha Beach landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Credits: NARA)
Rangers rest atop the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, which they stormed in support of the Omaha Beach landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Credits: NARA)

The overarching intent of the book are the questions; Was the Pointe du Hoc mission necessary? Why did the Allies plan and execute an attack on gun batteries that they knew in advance contained no field guns? And more importantly, why did they ignore the position at Maisy that did? This book and its follow-on companion, Volume 2, will address these questions and attempt to answer them.

This book is available on (US) (Pre-Order, available on August 2, 2019), (UK), and on Pen and Sword.