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by Peter Howard

Secret Operations – Pointe du Hoc

by Peter Howard

Reviewed by Adam O’Brien


Publisher and Title Secret Operations – Pointe du Hoc
by Peter Howard
ISBN: 0 7110 3099 5
Media and Contents: Soft cover, A4 format, 96 pages colour & b/w
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: Well written, easy to follow with nice photography and illustrations
Recommendation: Recommended


Pointe du Hoc was situated between the beaches of Omaha and Utah on the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944. This 30 acre battleground was home to six German 155mm cannons which had a commanding view of both beaches and had the potential to wreak havoc amongst the invading Allied force.

The battleground was pounded for some time prior to D-Day by Allied bombers. Warships supported the infantry assault with naval gunfire. Because of the point’s position near impregnable cliffs, the Germans concentrated their defences anticipating an assault from inland.

Lt. Col. James Rudder’s 2nd Ranger Battalion was assigned to scaling the cliffs, securing the point, and destroying the guns – no easy task. So begins the enthralling story with its twists and turns, intelligence mistakes and unanswered questions of the assault on Ponte du Hoc.

I found the book very easy to follow and enjoyable to read, in fact, almost like a TV documentary in book form. The introduction is a good summary of the operation itself and primes the reader for the detailed back-story and assault that follows.

Chapters one and two introduce us to the Rangers, how they were formed (and named), their training routines in England prior to D-Day, and of course, the Ranger Creed, proudly printed out in full.

The next chapter entitled “the Attackers” primarily looks at the weaponry and equipment carried by the Rangers on D-Day and beyond. Here we are treated to some excellent contemporary photographs in full colour mixed with some period black and white. Of special interest here are a series of photos depicting DUKW vehicles fitted with 25m long ladders that enabled the Rangers to scale the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. Due to site conditions on the actual day of the assault, only one vehicle was used.

Chapter 4 takes a look at “the Defenders”. Structured in the same way as the previous chapter, we see again a series of beautiful contemporary photos of the weaponry and equipment used by the German forces. Here we also have a series of quite precise and well drawn plans and elevations of the German gun casements, munitions bunkers and flak shelters that littered the battleground. A series of coloured maps illustrate the positioning of the gun emplacements, bunkers etc, and to finish the chapter, there are a couple of nice aerial photos of the battleground taken by Allied bomber crews.

The next chapter describes the battle in detail, illustrated by a nice series of candid shots of the Rangers on board the LCA’s preparing for the assault (some in colour), along with shots of the fleet and the imposing cliffs of Point du Hoc. I found this chapter enthralling, and from someone who knew very little about this operation previously, I felt well educated after I had finished this chapter.

Lastly, there is a brief chapter on the aftermath of the assault. It details the fate of some of the officers involved and their life after the war.


I found “Secret Operations – Pointe du Hoc” an excellent introduction to the events at this site leading up to and including the D-Day landings and their aftermath. The book is well bound with a sturdy cover and is illustrated quite well with a combination of period photos (all sharp and clear), some excellent contemporary colour photos and a series of well drawn plans and maps.


Thanks to Specialty Press for the review sample