Company C, 2nd Ranger Battalion
For Operation Overlord Company C (Charlie Company) of the 2nd Ranger Battalion was assigned to Task Force B, which was part of the Provisional Ranger Group formed by both the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalion units. The Provisional Ranger Group was temporarily attached to the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. Assisting Task Force B in its mission was a platoon of DD Tanks from Company B of the 743rd Tank Battalion. Company C boarded HMS Prince Charles on June 1st, 1944 at Weymouth, England.
Task Force B was to land at Charlie Sector (located directly to the west of Dog Green Sector) at 06:33 a.m. along with Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment, and Company B of the 743rd Tank Battalion.
The Company C Rangers had two missions plans. The first was to follow Company A of the 116th in their attack on Vierville, and to pass through the village and attack a German strongpoint at Point et Raz de la Percee. After this attack they would join up with the Rangers forces that had assaulted Pointe du Hoc.
The second plan, should the attack on Vierville be unviable, was to climb cliffs at Charlie Sector and assault Point et Raz de la Percee with the assistance of DD Tanks and offshore naval units, after which they would join Task Force A on Pointe du Hoc. The Rangers were also tasked with destroying a radar station located two miles from Dog Green sector. The Company C men would be the first Rangers to hit the beaches on D-Day.
At approximately 4:00 a.m., after a light meal of coffee and flapjacks, Company C's first and second platoons boarded two LCAs and departed from HMS Prince Charles. The LCAs meet with Company A units of the 116th at HMS Empire Javelin, and then proceeded towards the French coast.
The first platoon (LCA 418) was commanded by Lieutenant William Moody, and the second platoon (LCA 1038) was commanded by Lieutenant Sydney Salomon. The commander of the company, Captain Ralph Goranson, rode with the first platoon. The rough and frigid seas caused many of the men to become seasick during the ten mile journey to the beach. Wet, cold and ill, the men of Company C prepared to land.
|First platoon. Company commander Captain Ralph E. Goranson. LCA Destroyed shortly after landing.|
H-Hour: Omaha Beach
Landing at approximately 6:45 a.m., both LCAs were raked with gun, mortar and artillery fire after lowering their ramps, and LCA 418 was wrecked shortly afterwards by three artillery rounds. In a short time Company C had incurred 50% casualties.
Unable to contact Company A of the 116th by radio, and seeing the beating that the 29th Division was receiving at Dog Green, Captain Goranson ordered his surviving men to proceed up the cliffs. Following his men, Goranson himself reached the top around 7:15 a.m.
Assisted by a boat team from Company B of the 116th, the Company C Rangers spent many hours clearing a fortified house and trench system near the Vierville draw before continuing on to the Point. Although not a part of their mission objectives, this action was significant in reducing the amount of German firepower that had been brought to bear on the Vierville exit.
Once the Rangers arrived at the Point they found that it had been destroyed, largely due to the efforts of HMS Glasgow, a light cruiser in the British Royal Navy. By the end of June 6th the Rangers, who had landed 68 men, had suffered 21 dead and 18 wounded.
D-Day Plus 1
On June 7th the Company C survivors joined with Company A and B of the 2nd Rangers, who had landed as part of Task Force C. In turn this group (commanded by Captain Edgar Arnold) was assembled into a task force that also included 5th Ranger Battalion units (Companies C and D), Company C of the 116th Infantry Regiment, and ten (six?) tanks from the 743rd Tank Battalion. Starting at 6:00 a.m., this group attempted to link up with the Rangers on Pointe du Hoc, but could only reach St. Pierre du Mont by the evening of the 7th.
D-Day Plus 2
Late in the morning on June 8th a two-pronged attack on Pointe Du Hoc was launched by the Ranger forces at St. Pierre du Mont and those that had stayed behind at Vierville. The Rangers at Pointe do Hoc were finally relieved by fellow Ranger forces around midday of the 8th.
Fact vs. Fiction
The dialogue and actions depicted in Saving Private Ryan aren't specific enough to determine what the fictional Charlie Company's exact mission objectives were, but the events in the film are somewhat accurate and do place Company C at the right time and place.
In the film, Company C seems largely concerned with clearing and opening Dog One, the draw (beach exit) leading to the village of Vierville. This would be consistent with Task Force B's mission to assist the 29th Division in clearing Vierville, but in reality Force B implemented their contingency plan and proceeded to Pointe-et-Raz-de-la-Percee in Charlie Sector. Although their actions before reaching the Point were key to opening up the Vierville draw, Company C did not directly participate in the clearing of that exit.
Company C is believed to have been the first Allied soldiers to have made it to the top of the cliffs at Omaha Beach, which is somewhat in keeping with the quick progress of the Rangers in the movie.
The Omaha Beach scenes are compressed for time, as it took much longer than twenty minutes to break through the German defenses. The Irish terrain is obviously not an exact match for the French coast, but the real Omaha Beach is not accessible for filmmaking. The real names of Company C men are not used in the film, as witnessed by Company C being commanded by "Captain Miller" instead of Captain Ralph Goranson.
Movies aren't the only works that suffer from errors and mistakes. Some sources swap the components of Ranger Task Forces B and C.
To further add to the confusion, multiple sources list the 2nd Rangers as having landed on either Charlie Sector or Dog Green Sector. Most sources accurately indicate that Force B was supposed to land at Charlie Sector, but most accounts of the actual landings indicate that the men landed on either Charlie Sector or Dog Green Sector. Although there is conflict, most "authoritative" sources seem to agree that the Rangers did land at their assigned position at Charlie Sector. The error in the movie is more than likely a result of this confusiona scriptwriter researching this topic would have found numerous conflicting information. However, one of the primary sources reportedly used on the film was Stephen Ambrose's book on D-Day, which accurately indicates where the Rangers landed. It is possible that this change was made intentionally so that the carnage on Dog Green Sector could be incorporated into the film for more dramatic effect.