Monday, 20 June 2011

Point Du Hoc

Continuing our WWII tour of Normandy we made 2 trips to Point Du Hoc. Once on our own and once with a tour guide. This was a strategic defensive line set up by the Germans that the US 2nd Ranger Battalion needed to destroy in order to make the Omaha and Utah beach landings a success.

It was here where my family really got a sense of what it must have been like for both sides. The evidence of the bombing raids and the artillery is still there.

The steep hill side the Rangers had to climb up while under fire from the Germans.

The landscape, where bomb craters are everywhere from where US bombers dropped around 600 tons of bombs on the site two days before the assault!

Bomb craters left by the bombs the US dropped on the German defensive lines. They are huge and deep; several were easily 20 or 30 feet deep. There were hundreds of them in this very small area. The craters, however, did serve a purpose, as they provided cover for the attacking troops from enemy machine guns.

Damage to the concrete German sites.

The many different types of gunnery stations founds. Some you can see the bomb damage. Some were missing the guns others had replicas in them. The main objective for the Americans were 155mm guns that could have fired upon our forces landing on both Omaha and Utah beaches. When the Rangers reached the top, they discovered that the guns had been removed and replaced with tree trunks to look like guns on aerial photographs. However, as the Rangers moved inland, they discovered the actual guns and disabled them with thermite grenades.

Again we saw many military personal there as well as re-enactors. The first picture is 101st airborne re-enactors.

The memorial at the point, still covered with flowers left from the D-Day celebration and the cordon of for the dignitaries that were there on June 6th. I wasn't able to get up close to read the memorial.

The Rangers paid a high price to take Point du Hoc from the defending German forces. The guide told us that of the 225 Rangers who began the assault on 6 June, only 150 were alive just 45 minutes later. The next day, the American forces were down to only 90 troops who could still fight, after fierce counterattacks from the Germans. Running out of ammunition, their situation was precarious, but they were able to link up with American forces of the 29th Infantry Division (which had suffered horrendous losses itself on Omaha Beach on D-Day).

Seeing the devastation caused by the bombing and the fighting during the invasion was very moving, as I kept thinking of how terrifying it would have been for the German troops as the bombs rained down and also how terrifying for the American forces as they scaled the cliffs in the teeth of enemy resistance. This really was a stark reminder of the violent reality of war as opposed to the "glory" of war.

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  1. Great pictures! Sounds like it was a very informative trip. The pictures of the bomb craters are crazy.

  2. What a wonderful experience for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your photos and thoughts on your visit. Great post Anna-Marie!

  3. Visiting from HSH. So neat to see you're in Normandy. We're planning a trip there in October. Very moving and powerful I'm sure.

  4. Hi Anna-Marie, war is a horror that I hope my son never has to experience up front, close and personal. Such rage, fear and devastation during war time is so against the Will of God. My son would love to visit and check out the sites.

  5. Just "hopping" over to visit from the HHH. Wow, Normandy! My husband is a soldier and has fought in 2 wars and I am a history buff. We would love to visit there someday to remember the incredible sacrifices made for our freedom. You're right. War is not full of glory and freedom is never free.
    God bless,

  6. Hi Anna-Marie,
    Great and educational post! I always learn alot while visiting your blog and I'm amazed you can remember so many facts and are able to document them on your blog! Walking in the bomb craters and knowing that so much life and destruction occurred in those very same areas would be a surreal experience, I think. Clicked a vote for you! :)

  7. These photos are incredible...I love that you and the kiddos are able to experience all this together! :)

  8. Neat adventure - it's great to learn history by visiting historical places.
    Here from the Hop!

  9. Oddly, we have some old abandoned military forts/points in Washington that look almost exactly like this. Ours were built in the 1800's, but improved for WWII. Of course, they weren't actually needed here....