Are the US Rangers Recognised Enough in Other Parts of Normandy ?

Every year a middle aged couple from Grandcamp-Maisy attend a ceremony at 11am on the 9th of June to honour the US Army Rangers who fought at the Maisy Battery.

They told me that one year it was attended by 12 people who stood in the pouring rain to lay 2 wreathes. It was a simple act of respect by a group of locals who cared enough to be there.

They told me that members of the local Ancient Combatants Association and people from the Mayors office attend – and there is even a pipe band who drive all the way down from Holland each year. There are 2 or 3 wreathes laid and a short speech made… but that is all. There is no real pomp and ceremony, just people who were there to remember.

The Rangers who fought at Maisy cannot come back, there is no fanfare and parade for them now. But that does not mean they should not still be remembered.

Ranger veterans L-R. James Gabaree, Jack Burke and Daniel Farley salute at a previous Maisy Battery ceremony.
Ranger veterans L-R. James Gabaree, Jack Burke and Daniel Farley salute at a previous Maisy Battery ceremony.

The US Army do not send anyone, the regional government do not send anyone and it is an insignificant event know to only a few. However that does not make it any less significant.

Pointe du Hoc deservedly gets all the attention for D-Day, but what about all of the other places that were liberated in the days that followed.

The wounds the men received during these battles were no less painful. The loved ones they left behind in the States did not stop thinking about them and most of those who did survive had a long war ahead of them.

As I listened to President Biden in his speech at the American Cemetery today he said “the blood of the young and the brave” is on this land and it is true.

On the morning of the 9th of June 1944 a number of men from the US 5th Rangers were wounded at Maisy and for some of them that was the end of their war. They went home as wounded heroes and yet they did not forget the men who stood in their place and carried on.

The Deep Respect Band from Holland pay their respects.
The Deep Respect Band from Holland pay their respects.

The battle for Maisy lasted 5 and a half hours and the Rangers were supported by men of the 116th Infantry and 2nd Ranger half-tracks. Hundreds of Germans were taken prisoner and the silencing of the Maisy guns saved countless lives in the Allied units who were still landing on the beaches. As time has gone on most of them have now passed away, but without small ceremonies at places like Maisy Battery, their memory will slowly be forgotten.

The list of wounded at the Maisy Battery reads:-

From A Company: William Scott, Henry Santos, George Chiatello, Dana Wallace, Densil Johnson, Jerome Bugnachi, James Sullivan, Robert Battice, Hubert Putney, John Tucker.

From E Company: Steven Oboryshko, George Patersohn, with Robert McCoubrey listed as seriously wounded in action.

From F Company: Clinton Fogel & Anthony Muscatello, Nickolas Pasuk, Burton Ranney and Andrew Spier.

From HQ Company: Harry Durham.

TWO US Army Distinguished Service Cross’s were awarded for combat at the Maisy Battery

One for Sgt. Joe Urish and his certificate reads:-“Sergeant Urish, who was leading a patrol, moved into the battery on his own to persuade them to surrender. … After much pleading and promising the enemy, one by one, they laid down their arms, surrendered, and marched out. A total of one hundred and sixty-seven prisoners were captured from a position that might have held out for days.”

Another DSC was issued to Ranger Major Richard Sullivan:–  “Major Sullivan directed the Rangers’ progress across country to Grandcamp and Maisy. In cooperation with United States Infantry an attack was begun on the Maisy battery. When certain elements were temporarily halted by artillery fire Major Sullivan, who had been wounded, calmly and courageously rallied his officers and men, ordered a renewal of the attack, and instead of bypassing the resistance, advanced over heavily mined terrain to capture the Maisy battery. Eighty-six prisoners and several large artillery pieces in concrete bunkers were taken.”

As we go home from Normandy after this anniversary most of us will think we have seen and done everything. But should we have joined the handful of locals who remember the men who fought in this small village on the 9th of June. Is it not time we stood with them at least once in 80 years to pay our respects to ALL the Rangers, not just the “D-Day” ones.

For more information visit www.maisybattery.com