A revision and amplification of the position of German defensive battlements on the Normandy beaches widens and deepens the questions surrounding the Overlord operation.
Sterne, who lives part of the year in the Normandy area, collects war antiques and is co-founder of Skirmish and Armourer magazines, sets out discoveries of a vast, previously unknown underground German battery and bunker system beneath Maisy, Normandy, assaulted by the Rangers in their push inland on June 6, 1944. As the author argues, the Rangers broke out from the beaches and were headed for the Pointe du Hoc big guns, only to discover that the guns had been moved and were not there—a failure perhaps of U.S. intelligence. The Maisy battery was two miles from the coast yet had an ideal vista to the sea. Indeed, it was a fully operational underground trench system, containing lethal howitzers, as well as barracks and a telephone shelter that had all been built by increments over the years of German occupation. Sterne has done extensive research into the German operations at Maisy, as well as what Allied intelligence knew or did not know about it. The actual battle to take the mazelike battery was arduous and took a heavy toll on the Rangers. Sterne aims to correct misconceptions around “D-Day myths”—e.g., that the Pointe du Hoc guns were operational rather than dummy positions to detract from the real emplacements at Maisy, as engineered by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Sterne believes that the 5th Rangers have not been properly recognized along with the 2nd in taking the battery, and he presents his evidence in numerous, abrupt switches among the points of view of the soldiers involved. Pictures and maps also vie for the reader’s attention.
A glut of information impedes a view of the forest for the many trees.