|The very point of Pointe du Hoc
In the years and months leading up to the D-Day invasion, German forces had built a strong defense system along the French coast. Called the Atlantic Wall, this well armed defensive barrier composed of batteries and bunkers on land and underwater mines provided protection to German controlled lands and were thought to be impossible to breach. But as history shows, that wasn't the case.
On 6 June 1944, under German fire, members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder, scaled the 100 foot cliffs of Pointe du Hoc and disabled the German positions above. During the early morning hours the U.S. Naval bombardment that left those lasting craters began. In less than two hours of intense fighting, during which two landing craft and their crews were lost, American Rangers were able to reach the top of the cliffs, capture the strategic location and destroy numerous German artillery. The battle continued but the success of initial attack helped pave the way for future successes. Of the initial attacking force of 225 men however, only 90 were still able to bear arms when this portion of the battle was over on 8 June. The personal stories of those who were killed are shared in the Sacrifice Gallery that lines the exit of the memorial site.
|View in the direction of Omaha Beach
The granite dagger that is the Pointe du Hoc Ranger memorial sits atop another bunker at the every end of the point. It was erected by the French government then later landed over to the U.S. government in 1979 as a sign of friendship between the two nations. From this point it is possible to look up and down the coast in both directions and see the landing beaches. From this perch it is easy to see why capturing this point of land was so crucial to the success of the Allied invasion of Normandy.
|Bunkers and craters for as far as the eye can see
|Exploring a crater
If you go:
Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial
Pointe du Hoc, France
33 02 31 51 62 00