Normandy-9/28/2015 - 10/1/2015

Trouville Caen-Arromanches American Cemetery Pointe du Hoc Mt. Saint Michel Dinner in Honfleur

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc is a promontory with a 100 ft cliff overlooking the English Channel on the coast of Normandy. During World War II it was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. By mid-1944, German forces manned formidable defenses along the French coast. Of concern to the Allies were German 155mm artillery positions on Pointe du Hoc. They could wreak havoc on Utah and Omaha Beaches. The German army fortified the area with concrete casemates and gun pits. On D-Day, June 4, 1944 Col. Earl Rudder and the Second Ranger Division scaled he 100-foot cliffs and seized the German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops at Omaha and Utah beaches. At a high cost of life, they successfully defended against determined German counterattacks.

Early on the morning of June 6th 1944 700 ships of all sizes approached the coast on Normandy. This was the largest flotilla the world had ever seen, and has never been surpassed. The five beaches selected for the landings have been known by their code names ever since. The two American beaches: Utah and Omaha, the two British Beaches: Sword and Gold, and the Canadian Beach:Juno.

 

Timeline

June  6, 1944

5:50 a.m.: Naval bombardment of Pointe du Hoc began, including guns of the battleship USS Texas. Three companies (70 men per) of Rudderís 2nd Ranger Battalion were to land at Pointe du Hoc at 6:30 a.m., but were delayed. Per plan, Schneiderís command (plus three companies of the 2nd) joined the Omaha Beach assault

 

7:10 a.m.: Two landing craft were lost, but the Rangers debarked and started up the cliffs. They pressed upward, supported by the destroyer USS Satterlee. One of the Rangersí DUKWs was disabled by enemy fire en route to Pointe du Hoc. The engine failed. Three Rangers were casualties, including one killed.

The Rangers continue to defend an even smaller area on Pointe du Hoc against German counter-attacks.

Afternoon Ė A platoon of Rangers arrives on an LST, with wounded removed.

 

7:40 a.m.: Most of the remaining Rangers reached the top.

9:30 a.m.: The Germans had previously moved the guns southward from their initial prepared positions. Despite fierce resistance, Rangers found and destroyed the guns pushing onward to cut the highway south of Pointe du Hoc.

June 6-8: After fighting two days, only about 90 Rangers stood when relieved by Schneiderís Rangers and the 29th Division from Omaha Beach.

In the parking lot a large panel tell the story of Ranger Casualties and their sacrifice (picture on the right):

US Army ranger units sustained Heavy losses during the Normandy Landings.  Of 225 Rangers that left the ships in the first wave to attack Pointe du Hoc only 90 men were still able to bear arms when the relief force arrived on the morning of June 8th.  IN the larger battle, the 2nd and 5th battalion taken together suffered 96 killed, 183 wounded, and 32 missing during the battles for Pointe du Hoc and Omaha beach.

 

 

 

 

 

Panoramic view of Pointe du Hoc. 

Pointe du Hoc is open to the public daily. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April 15 to September 15, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year.

 

Surviving observation bunker at the Pointe du Hoc.  

 

Inside the bunker.

The site has remained relatively unchanged since 1944, large bomb craters and uneven ground fill the landscape.

 

Remains of a gun pit.

Unlike many of the WWII battle sites that have memorials or museums, this location has remained largely untouched since the battle that occurred here; visitors can still see the scars on the ground and it's easy to see why this was such an important stronghold. 

 

Observation deck on top of a bunker.

 

Inside the bunker

 

 

We are now walking toward the Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument (straight ahead in the back ground).  With time grass grew back in this battle-scarred area. 

 

Today, the Cliffside of Pointe du Hoc is the location of The World War II Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument, which was built and erected by the French directly on top of the German bunker that was seized by the Americans to honor the American Second Ranger Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. James E. Rudder.

The memorial on top of the observation bunker.

Stairs leading to bunker.

Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument is located on a cliff eight miles west of Normandy American Cemetery, which overlooks Omaha Beach.

The monument consists of a simple granite pylon positioned atop a German concrete bunker with tablets at its base inscribed in French and English. The monument was formally transferred to ABMC for perpetual care and maintenance on January 11, 1979.

 

View of the beach and its cliffs.

 

German bunker served as the nerve center for the Germans at Pointe Du Hoc.

The bunker is actually pretty big.

Small opening in the bunker -View from the exterior looking in.

 

View from inside the bunker-This is what the German soldiers see when they were inside the bunker trying to protect the area.

 

 

More view of the beach from the outside of the bunker.

 

NEXT...LE MONT ST MICHEL

 

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