2nd Ranger Battalion
The 2nd Ranger Battalion was constituted on March 11th, 1943. On April 1, 1943, the 2nd Rangers were activated at Camp Forrest, Tennessee under the command of Major L. E. McDonald. Training for the new Ranger volunteers was intense, and many of the men were eventually returned to their original units. Although the 2nd Rangers contained volunteer soldiers from many states, most of its ranks hailed from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. On June 30, 1943 Major James Earl Rudder took command of the unit.
For Operation Overlord, the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions were teamed up (on May 9th, 1944) and designated the Provisional Ranger Group and were temporarily attached to the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. The Provisional Ranger Group itself was split into three groups; Task Force A, Task Force B and Task Force C.
Task Force A
Task Force A was composed of 2nd Ranger Battalion Companies D, E and F, along with elements of Headquarters Company. These units were given the daunting task of destroying the 155mm guns believed to be located at Pointe du Hoc, a position that would allow German gunners to attack targets on both Omaha and Utah beaches, as well as any naval vessels supporting the landings. The units of Task Force A were transported by LSI Ben-My-Chree (Company E, Company F, and HQ) and LSI Amerstdam (Company D and Company E) and were to land at Pointe du Hoc at 6:30 a.m.
Task Force B
Task Force B consisted of Company C of the 2nd Ranger Battalion supported by a platoon of DD tanks from Company B of the 743rd Tank Battalion. These units were to land at Charlie Sector (adjacent to Dog Green Sector) near Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. Task Force B had two plans, the first to follow Company A through their assault on Vierville and on to a German strongpoint at Point et Raz de la Percee, and the second to directly attack the point via cliffs if Vierville was not cleared. After Point et Raz de la Percee was cleared they were to link up with the Rangers of Task Force A at Pointe du Hoc. The Ranger units of Task Force B were transported by HMS Prince Charles, and rendezvoused with Company A units of the 116th Infantry Regiment at HMS Empire Javelin before making their run to Omaha Beach. Company C was to land at 06:33 a.m.
Task Force C
Task Force C consisted of the 5th Ranger Battalion and Companies A and B of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. This force was supposed to wait offshore until 7:00 a.m. when a prearranged signal from Task Force A told them to either land at Pointe du Hoc and assist Task Force A, or land at Omaha Beach and proceed through the Vierville draw and on to Pointe du Hoc. The units of Task Force C were transported by HMS Prince Charles (Company A, Company B and 5th Rangers), HMS Leopold (5th Rangers) and HMS Prince Baudouin (5th Rangers).
Although the Rangers of Task Force A were able to scale the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc within a half hour of landing, they discovered that the guns they were sent to destroy were not present, and had apparently been moved inland at some time. These guns were found later that morning and destroyed by First Sergeant Len Lomell and Sergeant Jack Kuhn. For the rest of the day and into the night the isolated Ranger units of Task Force A held their ground on the Pointe against German counterattacks.
|Abandoned and sank before it could land.|
|LCA 668||Originally to land on the west side of the Pointe, but forced to land on the east side.|
|LCA 858||Originally to land on the west side of the Pointe, but forced to land on the east side.|
|LCA 860||Abandoned and sank at approximately 5:30 a.m. before it could land.|
|Company E and HQ|
|LCA 722||Sent message to Task Force B at 7:30 a.m. Contained medical personnel.|
|LCA 861||The second LCA to land.|
|LCA 862||Navy shore fire control party.|
|LCA 888||Lt. Colonel Rudder's craft. The first to land at 7:10 a.m.|
|LCA 883||The last LCA to land.|
|LCA 884||Landed without incident.|
|LCA 887||Landed without incident.|
Task Force B landed near Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment at Charlie sector as planned, but severe casualties in Company A prevented the 29th Division soldiers from carrying out the capture of Vierville. Captain Ralph Goranson ordered his men to implement their contingency plan, the direct assault on Point et Raz de la Percee via cliffs. Open reaching the Point it was discovered that it had already been destroyed by the British destroyer HMS Glasgow.
|First platoon. Company commander Captain Ralph E. Goranson. Destroyed shortly after landing.|
Although Task Force C never received the signal from Task Force A instructing it to land at Omaha*, Force C proceeded as per its contingency plan and landed at Omaha Beach (Dog Green and Dog White sectors) at 7:40 a.m. alongside the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division. Advanced units of the 5th Rangers were able to make contact with 2nd Rangers on the Pointe in the early evening of June 6th. On June 7th the remaining men of Task Force C would join up with Task Force B and units from the 116th Infantry Regiment and the 743rd Tank Battalion and make their way to Pointe du Hoc.
* Task Force A did indeed send the appropriate signal ("tilt") to Task Force C at 7:30 a.m., but the message seems to have been lost in the confusion of battle.
Of the 2nd Ranger forces that participated in the D-Day assault, 77 were killed, 38 reported missing in action and 152 wounded. Units of the 2nd Rangers continued to serve for the next year, but were never again used in special operations that would have utilized their training and skills. Instead, the Rangers served alongside regular infantry units in areas such as the Cherbourg peninsula (JuneJuly), Brest (AugustSeptember), the Crozon peninsula (September), LeFret (September) and the Hurtgen Forest (December). When the Germans surrendered in May of 1945, the 2nd Rangers were stationed in Czechoslovakia.
The 2nd Ranger Battalion was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for the assault on Pointe du Hoc, as well as a French Croix de Guerre with Silver-Gilt Star. Thirteen Rangers of the 2nd Battalion were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
The 2nd Ranger Battalion shoulder sleeve insignia was a blue lozenge 1 7/8 inches high and 3 1/2 inches long. The lozenge was surrounded by a 3/32 inch wide yellow-gold border. The word "RANGERS" was set in all capitals and was 3/8 inches high.
There is no known symbolism to the design, which was authorized for wear by all Ranger battalions in July of 1943. Although the blue diamond was the official 2nd Ranger insignia, and was worn into battle on D-Day, it was not popular among the Rangers themselves due to its resemblance to the Sunoco logo.
By late 1944 the 2nd Rangers began wearing a different design based on the insignia previously worn by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Battalions. This patch was designed by Ranger Anthony Rada, and was black, red and white and featured a scroll with text specific to each battalion. The only other Ranger unit to use the diamond design was the 5th Ranger Battalion, which eventually discarded it in favor of the scroll design favored by all other Ranger units.
The blue diamond was discontinued in 1947, but it was not until 1983 that the scroll design was adopted as the official insignia of the U.S. Army Rangers.
The 2nd Ranger Battalion was inactivated on October 23, 1945 at Camp Patrick Henry in Virginia.
A complete list of men who served with the 2nd Ranger Battalion can be found in Robert W. Black's Rangers in World War II (Ballantine Books, 1992). The compositions of Task Force B and C are often switched depending on which source material one relies on.