Pointe du Hoc – D Day Normandy Invasion :
Eight miles west of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is the Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument, a memorial that tells the story of the raw courage and incredible feat performed by three companies of the American Second Ranger Battalion during the June 6, 1944 Normandy Landings.
The Pointe du Hoc Monument is a simple granite pylon erected by the French and is positioned on top of a German concrete bunker.
The Pointe du Roc battlefield is a popular sightseeing stop on any Normandy battlefields tour. This 30-acre battlefield is maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission. On 11 January 1979, the French handed over the site to the American government for their care and maintenance in perpetuity.
Events at Pointe du Hoc
Because of its steep cliffs, Pointe du Hoc was considered to be virtually unassailable from the beach by the Germans. From their post on top of the cliffs, they had commanding views of both Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The Allies considered it a key defensive stronghold which had to be taken out as German long-range artillery on the point could direct deadly fire onto either of the Normandy beaches.
The task fell to three companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the 225-men Ranger force was led by Lieutenant Colonel James E. Rudder. Their mission was to land on the beach, scale the steep cliffs with specially designed climbing equipment, and destroy the guns.
Despite rigorous Allied aerial and naval bombardments, the Germans remained and desperately attempted to ward off the attackers with grenades and small arms fire.
Against all odds, the Rangers successfully stormed and captured the cliffs. However, upon reaching the top, they found only empty gun emplacements among the craters of the pre-invasion bombardments. On advancing inland two Rangers spotted the well-camouflaged 155 mm gun battery, now positioned south of the point and sitting mysteriously silent. With the enemy gun crews close by, the two men employed grenades and destroyed the guns. At the end of the day, Rudder sent a message to V Corps saying “Located Pointe du Hoc — mission accomplished — need ammunition and reinforcement — many casualties.”
Due to navigational difficulties the Allied assault commenced forty minutes late and the follow-on force, assuming the Ranger attack had failed, landed to the east at Omaha Beach. For two days the small Ranger force held out alone against increasingly aggressive enemy counterattacks. By the time reinforcement arrived, only 90 of the original 225 Ranger force remained.
Visiting Pointe du Hoc
This undulating battle-scarred area has been left pretty much as the Rangers had left it on June 6, 1944 and you can walk around the battlefield, check out the steep cliffs and view the remaining concrete bunkers. For the range of sightseeing tours to the Normandy Battlefields, see Here.