Dog Company Audio Book Review

Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc – the Rangers Who Landed at D-Day and Fought Across Europe

Authored by Patrick K. O’Donnell, Narrated by John Pruden

Audiobook, 8 hours and 11 minutes

Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Language: English

ASIN: B00A2ATV1W

Company D of the U.S. Army’s Second Ranger Battalion was one of the Allied units which landed at Normandy, but unlike most units it was tasked with a very specific and difficult mission; scale the cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc, and destroy the German guns emplaced there.  If the guns were not destroyed, they could target any troops landing on either Omaha or Utah beach and jeopardize the entire invasion of Europe.

The book follows “Dog” Company (Dog being the phonetic pronunciation of the letter D) from recruitment and training Stateside to its deployment to England.  In preparation for the D-Day landings, the Rangers practiced the technics of amphibious landings and scaling cliffs along the English coast.

Despite all the training, the actual landings at Pointe Du Hoc were chaotic.  Several Rangers were put ashore on Omaha beach, those that were landed at their intended locations fought largely on their own for two days.  They moved to their objectives in small groups, and in remarkable displays of personal initiative managed to accomplish their missions and defend their positions until they could link up with the rest of the American forces.

After being rebuilt and re-equipped, the Rangers went on to fight in the Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge.  The Ranger Battalions were repeatedly thrust into the thick of the fighting, and by the end of the war eleven months after D-Day few of the original men remained.

The author tells the story of the Rangers from the soldiers’ personal perspectives, relying largely on interviews with the survivors.  There are a number of parallels with the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division as told in Band of Brothers and this book compares well to that work.  Recommended.

3-D Printed Cunningham T1 Light Tanks in 1/72 Scale

The Cunningham T1 was a series of prototype light tanks developed in America.  They were modified and rebuilt into a number of configurations, but were never formally adopted by the U.S. Army.  These were printed on a Creality printer using a file by “Turenkarn” here:  http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2192170

The figure was converted from a Preisser Luftwaffe pilot.

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Cunningham T1 Light Tanks Build in 1/72 Scale

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The Cunningham T1 was a series of prototype light tanks developed in America. They were modified and rebuilt into a number of configurations, but were never formally adopted by the U.S. Army. Apparently, versions have become popular in the World of Tanks game, and I found the type interesting enough to print out a couple using a file by “Turenkarn” here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2192170

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The mudguards didn’t come out too well on my prints as can be seen on the nearer hull. Fortunately this is pretty easily corrected using sheet styrene.

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An earlier iteration of the Cunningham had no mudguards at all so they were simply removed from the print. The 37 mm cannons and machine gun barrels were replaced by Albion Alloy tube.

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Mr. Surfacer 1000 smoothed out the printing layers well. The tanks were painted and weathered as usual from there.

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I wanted to display the tank on a base. Here are some small trees made from twisting copper wire from lamp cord. After bending to the desired shape, the trunks are fixed with superglue, primed with Mr. Surfacer 500, and painted. The foliage is from Woodland Scenics.

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The base was made using a small plaque and represents a dirt backroad.

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Here is the finished scene with a figure added for scale. The figure was converted using a Preisser Luftwaffe pilot as a base. Another fun little printer project to clear the pallet between more involved builds.

Recon Scout Book Review

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By Fred H. Salter

Hardcover in dustjacket, 339 pages, photographs, and index

Published by Ballantine Books, 1994

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0-7394-2372-X

Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches

Corporal Fred H. Salter entered the U.S. Army at the age of 17, forging his father’s signature to enlist in the Horse Cavalry.  He was assigned to the 91st Cavalry Recon Squadron, which gave up its horses for Jeeps before the unit landed in North Africa.  There the unit was attached to larger formations, acting in their intended role as a reconnaissance unit or leaving their vehicles behind to fight as infantry.  Salter soon specialized in night patrols, scouting out enemy positions.  He often worked alone, believing the he was safer in no-man’s-land shielded by the darkness.

After North Africa the 91st landed in Sicily and fought its way up the Italian peninsula.  His was one of several units which endured the Italian winter in the mountainous countryside, and he witnessed the destruction of the Benedictine Monastery at Monte Cassino in a mis-guided attempt to break through the German defenses.

This is very much a soldier’s story with few words spent explaining any military strategy more grandiose than the next objective assigned to Salter or his unit.  He was a musician and a poet, some of his poems are included in this work.  At several times he expresses regret at the decisions he’s made and things he’s done during his time in combat, even if the events were beyond his direct control.

Salter was fortunate to have been one of the lucky ones who survived months of combat and rotated home before he was killed or wounded, most of the original men in his unit were not as lucky. The strain took a toll on him, in addition to malaria it is apparent that he suffered from what we would call PTSD today.  It would be remarkable if he didn’t.

The style of some of the dialog brought back memories of the Sgt. Rock comics of my youth.  A little campy but it does not detract from the story.  There is definitely a tension to the book, sneaking around alone at night through enemy lines is not something just anyone could do.  An interesting story of one man’s experiences during the war.

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