2nd Ranger Battalion
Living History And Reenacting Group
2nd Ranger History
2nd Ranger Battalion- a brief unit history
1 April 1943. 2nd Ranger Battalion is activated at Camp Forrest, Tennessee under Lt Col William C Saffarans, with approximately 500 volunteer culled primarily from the 29th, 76th, and 80th divisions. Other volunteers came over from various armor, artillery and air corps units. The battalion is formed along the structure of the 1st Ranger Battalion headed by Col William O Darby, and a small cardre is sent from North Africa to assist in the development of the unit. 6 Assault companies (A-F) and a headquarters detachment are organized. Intense physical training ensues. More than half of these initial volunteers would not complete the training.
19 April 1943 During the North African Campaign, authority to activate 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions is given to Col Darby in preparation for operation Husky (the Invasion of Sicily).
30 June 1943.. Major James E Rudder assumes command of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Additional units to provide volunteers are the 100th, 79th and 106th divisions. Additional recruits are
also selected to form the 5th Ranger Battalion. Rudder reorganizes the battalion NCO and Officer corps, and increases the level of physical training and discipline to weed out the malcontents.
4 September 1943. The Battalion is transferred to Camp Pierce, Florida to take part in a 2 week amphibious assault training course.
16 September 1943. The Battalion is shipped north to Fort Dix New Jersey where intense small arms training is conducted., The unit is given instruction in use of demolitions, anti-tank weapons, machine guns and mortars. Gas mask training is also introduced.
2nd Ranger E Company unit history booklet published at the end of the war.
29 September 1943. The battalion recieves their famed "Ranger Diamonds" insignia, a blue diamond patch with the word "RANGERS"rangers inscribed in yellow.
30 November 1943. The Men of the battalion are trucked to New York City to board the Queen Elizabeth. The ship is bound for Scotland.
2 December 1943. 2nd Rangers are transferred to Bude, England, a southern coastal resort town whose most notable feature is a sheer cliff at the edge of a short beach. The Rangers begin practicing cliff climbing under the leadership of British Commandos.
15 March 1944 Col Rudder is given top secret "BIGOT" clearance and is told of the D-Day plans for his unit by General Omar Bradley. " I Thought he was kidding" Rudder was reported to have said to an interviewer years later. Pointe Du Hoc is a triangle shaped promontory located at the western edge of the section of French coast designated as OMAHA beach by Allied planners. Atop this cliff there were believed to be six 155mm long range guns which had a range of 12 miles. From this position fire could be brought to bear on any point of OMAHA to the east, or UTAH to the northwest, or could endanger the fleet at sea . These guns needed to be removed in the opening round of the planned invasion or the entire landing could be placed in jeopardy.
Companies D, E and F of the 2nd Ranger Battalion would land at the foot of these cliffs and, using climbing ropes attached to rocket fired grapnels, would scale the cliffs
James Earl Rudder
An original 2nd Ranger poses for a portrait
and assault the guns. Company C would land at the western edge of OMAHA and attempt to take the point from the landward side. A and B companies, along with the entire 5th Ranger Battalion would be the follow on force up the cliffs once the assault teams were atop the cliff .
For a complete summary of the Pointe Du Hoc Mission click here to read
written by the Historical Division of the War Department in 1946
03 June 1944 Rangers are trucked to Weymouth England, where they board waiting LCAs and are taken to the awaiting ships at sea. Lt Bob Edlin of A Company was photographed and credited as the first man to board a craft headed for Normandy.
06 June 1944 D-DAY Ranger companies D,E.F reach the Pointe, a half hour late due to navigational errors, landing on the beach at 0705 hrs rather than 0630. The follow-on force was to wait until 0700 hrs for the radio signal "Praise The Lord" meaning that the Rangers were atop the Pointe, or "Tilt" meaning do not send the follow- on force up the cliff. If no word was recieved, they were to assume the mission had failed and land at OMAHA beach in order to try and take the point from landward. No word was received until 0725, by which time the reinforcements were already landing on the beaches. The 225 Rangers would be alone.
Once atop the Pointe, the men found the casemates were empty, that no guns were
Plaque to second Ranger battalion located inside observation post at tip of Pointe Du Hoc
present. Patrols moved inland to look for the guns, which were located in an orchard by Sgts Len Lomell and Jack Kuhn. Thermite grenades were used to melt the mechanisms and render the weapons useless.
The Rangers then prepared defensive positions and held off German counterattacks for 2 days until elements of the 5th Rangers and 29th Infantry Divisions linked up with them. Of the 225 Rangers who assaulted the cliffs, approximately 90 were left standing when they were reached on June 8th.
Rangers casualties on deck of the Battleship "Texas" on D Day. These are possibly D Company Rangers whose LCA was swamped and sunk on the run to the Pointe. (Note the diamond on the helmet of the soldier whose back is to the camera).
Rangers wearing Assault Vests lining up for coffee
11 June 1944. The 2nd Ranger Battalion is placed in V Corps reserve. Replacements are recieved and training begins to bring battalion back to full strength.
25 June 1944.. The Rangers move to Foucarville where their primary mission is POW guard duty.
3 July 1944.. Rangers begin a series of minor moves. The missions are primarily patrol and recon in nature. Training continues and many Rangers wounded at Normandy are beginning to return.
17 August 1944. Rangers are ordered to the port city of Brest on the Brittany Peninsula. Brest was a fortress city, heavily defended by approximately 50,000 troops. The capture of the deep water ports of Brest were considered a priority for landing supplies and men from the US. The 29th, 8th and 2nd Infantry Divisions, 4th and 6th Armored Divisions and 2nd and 5th Ranger battalions are given the job of laying siege to the city.
20 September 1944.. Rangers are moved to Kirbilben, France for rest and refit.
One of the casemates on Pointe du Hoc as it appears today
26 September.1944 Rangers are moved by railcar for a 5 day ride to Esch, Luxembourg.01 November 1944. Col Rudder is briefed on the Rangers next assignment, they would be attached to V Corps to assist in an attack across the Roer River and ultimately push on to the Rhine. The 28th division would lead an attack against the town of Schmidt in a region the GIs referred to as the Hurtgen Forest.
03 November 1944 . 2nd Rangers board trucks and leave Esch. They are attached to 5th Armored Division for supply and administration..
14 November 1944. The Rangers are ordered to support the weakened 28th Division , which had been driven from Schmidt by a fierce German counterattack. Rudder recieves orders to move the battalion to the Vossenach/ Germeter area to relieve elements of the 112th regiment. Around noon, the battalion starts a brutal road march through ice and snow while German artillery falls all around. , By 5pm the exhausted 112th is relieved. Rangers dig in and hold the line in their place. They will spend the next few weeks living in frozen holes in the ground, under enemy artillery fire while defending their portion of the line. Constant patrolling by both sides, German infiltration through the lines, snipers, minefields, booby traps, frostbite and artillery shrapnel all conspire to wear down the unit. Casualties mount to no percieved gain.
2nd Rangers on a road march near Heimbach, Germany
27 November 1944. The tide begins to turn, German units begin to fall back, and the Rangers are pulled back from the front line for rest and reorganization.
01 December 1944. The understrength battalion, now attached to 8th Infantry Division is assigned as V Corps reserve and designated as a rapid reaction counterattack force.
04 December 1944 8th ID is given the job of capturing the German town of Bergstein and the surrounding high ground known as Burgberg to the Germans. This area would be called "Castle Hill" by the Americans and would be designated "Hill 400" on divisional maps. The Roer River Dams could be seen from this high ground and its possesion was critical to the control of these dams. In addition, German High Command believed that Allied possesion of this area would jeopardize the launch of the secret counteroffensive scheduled for December 16th. It is ordered held at all costs.
05 December 1944 5th Armored and 47th Armored Infantry Regiment take Bergstein after heavy losses. They wait for the expected counterattack.
06 December 1944 Three German counterattacks are launched. The end result is that each side is holding portions of the town. The American force is in desperate need of relief. The 2nd Ranger Battalion, supported by tank destroyers, are assigned to take Hill 400. Companies A,B anc C would take up positions south of town, D,E and F would take the high ground which was being used for artillery observation by the Germans. Attack is scheduled for 07 Dec at 0800 .
07 December 1944 Col Rudder is notified that he is being given command of the 109th Regiment of the 28th ID. He assigns Maj George Williams as Battalion commander of 2nd Rangers.
The Rangers assault Hill 400 on Schedule and take the crest after brutal close in fighting. They take appalling losses but hold for 56 hours against 5 german counterattacks. Approximately 450 German dead and 64 prisoners were accounted for on the Hill, against 23 Rangers killed, 90 wounded, twenty injured and 4 MIA. Among the dead was Capt Walter Block , the Battalion Surgeon, killed while organizing the evacuation of the wounded.
16 December 1944 2nd Ranger Battalion is moved to the town of Simmerath, on the northern shoulder of "The Bulge" where they dig in and held the line against waves of
German infantry and artillery
05 February 1945 The Rangers, now attached to the 78th ID are trucked to Wollseifen Germany to begin planning and reconaissance for a new assignment to capture the Urft and Schwammenauel Dams on the Roer River. The Attack is scheduled for the 11th of February. The mission is cancelled without explanation on the 10th.
22 February 1945. The Rangers are attached to the 102nd Cavalry Group
01 March 1945 2nd Rangers and 102 Cavalry cross the Roer river and move deeper into Germany, taking a series of German towns and capturing many prisoners.
26 March 1945 The Rhine is crossed. German resistance is crumbling
08 May 1945. 2nd Rangers are headed for Pilsen Czechoslovakia, along with 1st Division and V corps HQ when the word is given. Germany has surrendered.
Ranger Madison Cobb was assigned as a crewman on one of the two supply boats attached to the Ranger Force on D DAY.
Additional reading on the "Maisy" vs Point Du Hoc Debate
Read about the forgotten battery captured by the Rangers on D-Day
Read an interview with Len Lomell and Jack Kuhn, the men credited with finding the guns on D-Day
The best references for 2nd Ranger History are:
Rangers In WWII By Col Robert Black
The Batallion by Col Robert Black
Small Unit Actions by The Historical Division War Dept Washington DC
The Liberation of Pointe Du Hoc by Joanna M Mcdonald
Rudders Rangers by Ronald Lane
The Fool Lieutenant by Marcia Moen and Margo Heinen
Additional Information and Links