The city of Brest in western France was an important German stronghold protected by a battery of four massive, 280 mm coastal guns, which in turn was surrounded by pillboxes, sniper positions and minefields. First Lieutenant Robert T. Edlin of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and three of his men were sent on a recon patrol to the outskirts of the battery on the morning of September 9, 1944. Their job was only to get an idea of the layout of the defenses, but one of the men noticed a path through the minefield and started running down it at full tilt, followed by the others.
The four men overran a pillbox with 20 Germans inside. Three of the men then had an English-speaking German officer lead them to the battery’s commandant while the entire German garrison looked on in disbelief of their apparent madness. The commandant thought the Rangers were bluffing and refused to surrender at first. Edlin pulled the pin from a hand grenade and pressed the grenade against the colonel’s chest, counting “One… two…” The colonel surrendered before three. He broadcast a surrender order on loudspeakers to the entire battery, and 850 Germans marched out to be received by the rest of the Ranger battalion.