Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Part 2 - More on Cover Up at Omaha Beach.

So, in short the main idea of this book is that the entire story of the invasion was altered by ignoring the Maisy Coastal Artillery Battery, and the cover up was that someone screwed up and placed a high target value on Point Du Hoe, while ignoring Maisy.  I think to an extent -  yes, and no.

One of the claims made is that it was Ike himself who selected PdH at target #1. And thus he wanted the mess covered up as it was embarrassing.  I doubt this, as I think Ike had a lot more on his plate that to deal with minutia like this. This is what he had an enormous staff for. His Intel guys would come to him and say "here's our plan based upon our best estimate" and he'd OK it.  So I don’t buy that, but figure any errors were made way down on the food chain and it just floated up to the people who needed to approve it.

As to PdH not being a worthy target, I disagree. One of the author's claims is that the Yanks didn’t know the guns were not there. No, not correct. There is ample evidence that the maps given out to the Rangers and others for D-day clearly marked PDH as having the guns removed. In fact, this is why Major Lytle got bent out of shape on 5 June. He knew there were no guns, and he knew they were going get a lot of guys killed for no real reason.   So Rudder relived him, and went ashore to run things himself. Now I have to admit that my own personal feelings are that Rudder made a major error here. I was not there when Lytle was relived, although some Rangers told me what they had heard. Maybe he needed to be, maybe not. But there is a thing in the Army called chain of command. If Lytle was shot in the first minute, there was someone else ready to take over.  Rudder did not need to go. Although he had made a lot of noise previously about wanting to . So to me, in my opinion with what I know, and understanding full well that there may be evidence that has not come forward, I think Rudder screwed the pooch here.

I think he wanted to go ashore in the invasion, and when Lytle got upset/drunk/loud or whatever, he saw it as his moment of glory and stepped into the fray. What this did, was leave the Rangers without a support system off shore to watch out for them. Thus there were issues with naval gunfire support, and resupply.  In my opinion he should have stayed offshore, and done his job as coordinator, then landed when the situation was clear, which would have allowed him to bring in supplies, evacuate wounded and all those things that the Rangers had issues with.

I think the author is also wrong when he says the PdH landing was useless.  Yes, there were no guns there, but there was a key observation point with nice rangefinders linked into the local batteries via buried land lines. The view from this position is pretty good both ways, and if those observers were able to send targeting information to the German batteries it would have been very beneficial for them. The second value of taking PdH is that it is close to the road connecting the two beaches.  I'm not sure if this was a critical position to take, but the Rangers did cut the road, and it proved to be important that they did. And of course they also denied that ground to any German batteries that might have moved up.  The guns the Rangers destroyed behind PdH could easily have been moved up, and tied in to the observation post.  He's got a very interesting reason they weren't, which I think may well be true. But That one I will let you go buy the book and read for yourselves.

As an odd note on the Rangers at PdH. A short while after Spearheading D-day was publishing, I got an odd phone call. It was from a fellow in the southwest that had been a Ranger in the 70/80's. He told me he had hung out with WW2 rangers a lot at their reunions and had always asked them about their operations. Everything he said that I had any knowledge on made perfect sense to me, so my bullshit detector did not go off.  He said he had to call me and let me know I had gotten closest to the truth of anyone. Especially with the relief of Lytle. And he was really impressed I had picked up on that and figured out who it was.  We had a long talk, and he was going to send me some documents, then vanished into the aether.  Oh well. One thing he said that always made me wonder was that he had more than one eye witness to the Rangers being destroyed at Cisterna, and that they had actually been doing well with their night infiltration, until a jeep from a neighboring unit that had gotten lost can up with their head lights on. That's when the Germans were tipped off. I have no idea if this is true or not, but as I said, the guy really did seem to know what he was talking about.  I always wondered if anyone else had heard that story.  And no, I never heard from him again.

So, when I have a minute I am going to post part 3, in which I talk more about the book than what's in it.


No comments: