Wednesday saw Dad and I drive up to the coast to see some of the American contribution to DDay. Our plan was to first visit Pointe Du Hoc then head to Omaha beach.
Our trip to France was after the main holiday season was over, UK schools had returned for the start of a new year and I didn’t see and French children of school age wandering around; the sites with an American connection were noticeably busier than those that were purely British affairs.
Pointe Du Hoc was a DDay objective for the US 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions. It was believed that the site held six 155mm guns of French origin that could bombard either of the two American invasion beaches. The plan was for the Rangers to scale the cliffs and take out the guns. On 6th June, after the difficult cliffs had been scaled, the gun pits/ casemates were found to be empty. The Rangers had to hold the site against vigorous counterattacks until relieved.
The site today is very well kept, paths link the various shattered bits on concrete and a memorial right on the edge of the cliff.
The view from the car park/ visitors centre, the devastation caused by bombing and shelling is very extensive, there is hardly 10m square that is undulated or cratered in some way.
The light FLAK bunker that was used Lt Col Rudder as a command post during the battle.
A tobruk (probably MG) next to a crater- the crater was 2m deep and one of the smaller ones.
The rear of a bunker- it was open to go in and explore: consisting of ammunition stores and sleeping quarters.
One of the shattered open gun pits- now home to some scraggy sheep.
The Ranger memorial- modeled after the blade of their combat knife.
The cliffs up which the Rangers had to assault. I’ve done a little climbing in my time and these loose overgrown cliffs do not look appealing. To do so wet, tired and under fire was no mean undertaking.
Although it was not marked up in any way I’m assuming that this is a barrel of one of the guns of the battery that were found hidden a little way inland.
After a couple of hours wandering round the site we went back to the car and headed east along the coast a little way to visit Omaha beach.
What a fascinating trip. I’d love to, one day, do the same thing.
Definitely add it to your list if you ever do a European tour.