The Cover up at Omaha Beach: Maisy Battery and the US Rangers, Gary Sterne

The Cover up at Omaha Beach: Maisy Battery and the US Rangers, Gary Sterne

This book was produced as a result of a chance discovery. In 2004 the author found the remains of a then forgotten German gun battery at Maisy, located between Omaha and Utah Beaches. This gun battery wasn't mentioned in accounts of the D-Day campaign. The author bought the site, and set out to discover the history of his new property.

It soon becomes clear that the Allies were well aware of the Maisy battery at the time. The author has found a whole series of photo reconnaissance pictures of the site, reports on its development (of varying accuracy), records of bombing raids on the battery along with several bursts of targeted naval gunfire on the day. The various parts of the battery were allocated targeting codes.

After the war the battery and the battle for it faded from the record. I've found it fascinating to look back at my various books on D-Day, to see when the Maisy battery begins to appear (2006 for a first mention in the books I've got).

The main part of the book is a very detailed account of the activities of the US Rangers on D-Day and in the following few days, starting with the original landings, including the famous assault up the cliffs at Pointe-du-Hoc, and the attack on the Maisy batteries. This is built around a huge collection of eyewitness accounts from the Rangers themselves, including some from interviews conducted by the author, supported by official documents from both sides. I found this part of the book very convincing, and a valuable addition to the D-Day literature.

The 'cover up' aspect I find less convincing. The basic idea is that the site was buried (literally), to cover up Eisenhower's mistake in focusing on the empty batteries at Pointe-du-Hoc. Given the scale of the fighting on and soon after D-Day I don't think we need any conspiracies to explain why even quite major parts of the fighting have been forgotten. Quite major events can slip from the record quite easily.

The author also suggests a valid alternative theory for the missing guns at Point-du-Hoc and the identity of the guns that were found and destroyed in a nearby field, which I find more convincing. This isn't directly associated with the Maisy battery, but it did involve many of the same Rangers, and is part of the same story.

This is a fascinating story, well supported by contemporary evidence, and helps fill a gap in the history of the D-Day Invasion.

1 - Uncovering Maisy
2 - The US Rangers on D-Day
3 - Rangers Lead the Way
4 - The Close of D-Day
5 - The Assault on Pointe du Hoc
6 - Starting from Zero
7 - German Operations
8 - Allied Air Force and Army Intelligence
9 - The Rangers' Advance on Maisy
10 - The Battle for Maisy
11 - Challenging a D-Day Myth

Author: Gary Sterne
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2013

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