Pointe du Hoc

Saturday June 8 was a very busy day and is going to get two posts.  It started out as a very blustery and wet day, to the point that my pants were soaked while walking from the boat to the bus, and the weather continued on and off.  (They did dry on their own.) 

The photo gallery for this and the next post is Pointe du Hoc and Utah Beach.

We began the day at Pointe du Hoc, a flat-topped bluff, about 100 feet tall, right on the Normandy coast.  Here’s the view of the range of bluffs.

View of the south coast from the edge of Pointe du Hoc

A slightly closer look at those cliffs:

Cliffs at Pointe du Hoc

American Rangers had to climb these bluffs to capture and disable the German gun emplacements, particularly the 155mm artillery positions, which could have wreaked havoc on Utah and Omaha beaches. 

Here’s a look at the remains of a German gun emplacement:

German gun emplacement, Pointe Du Hoc

I was so close to it that this is a panorama of 2 shots; I couldn’t get it all in one frame.  There are photos of several remnant gun emplacements in the photo gallery.  I was fascinated by this one:  our guide told us that the holes in the wall, which you can just see to the left of the door, were to direct poison gas on any attacking force.

Side entrance to gun emplacement, Pointe du Hoc

We couldn’t miss the bomb craters, either.  Those were the result of early allied bombing, in the hope that the following infantry could use them for foxholes.

Allied bomb crater, Point du Hoc

It won’t surprise anyone that the Rangers succeeded in their mission, and captured and neutralized all the German gun emplacements, despite all the things that went wrong for them (and everyone else) during Overlord.  For details of their mission, I recommend the account at d-day.overlord.com entitled Assault of Pointe du Hoc during the Normandy landings in 1944. It is stunning.  Their efforts were memorialized after the war by this simple monument, on top of what was once a German emplacement.

Ranger Monument at Pointe du Hoc (in the rain)

Here is the inscription:

Ranger Monument inscription, Pointe du Hoc

Shortly before we left Pointe du Hoc, I got one of those amazing photos that sometimes happen.  Looking at the edge of the Pointe, I saw this:

C-130s in formation over Pointe du Hoc

At first I thought they were World War II reproductions but someone who knows aircraft told me they were Lockheed C-130s, which first flew in the mid-1950s and are still in service.  I have to admit, seeing them in formation gave me chills.

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