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The Land Beneath Us – Tour of Pointe du Hoc, Part 2

To celebrate the release of The Land Beneath Us, I’m conducting a photo tour of locations from the novel that I saw on my research trips to England, Normandy, Tennessee and more.

From the previous books in the Sunrise at Normandy series:

From The Land Beneath Us:

Tullahoma, Tennessee

Pointe du Hoc, Part 1

Today—Pointe du Hoc, Part 2

Don’t forget to enter The Land Beneath Us Release Day Giveaway, which includes lots of items I picked up on the trips! Giveaway runs Feb. 4-10, 2020.

Pointe du Hoc

Please see Part 1 for the story (and pictures) of how the US 2nd Ranger Battalion landed at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy on D-day, June 6, 1944, and scaled the 100-foot cliffs under heavy fire.

At the top of the cliffs, the Rangers immediately raced in small units for their assigned objectives—the six guns arranged in a V on the point and the observation post at the tip. Here are photos of the gun casemates and open gun pits at Pointe du Hoc, a German bunker, and the observation post.

Gun casemate at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Gun casemate at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Inside a gun casemate at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Inside a gun casemate at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Gun casemate at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Gun casemate at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Ruins at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Ruins at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Bunker at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Bunker at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Open gun pit at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Open gun pit at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Observation post at tip of Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Observation post at tip of Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

View from inside observation post at tip of Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

View from inside observation post at tip of Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

To the Rangers’ shock, they found telephone poles where the guns were supposed to be. They immediately raced for their next objective, the highway connecting Vierville to Grandcamps-les-Bains, where they were to set up a roadblock to prevent German reinforcements from reaching Omaha Beach. En route to the highway, some of the Rangers noticed tire tracks leading away from the gun positions and decided to search for the guns.

By 0815, only an hour after landing, the road and the tiny village of Au Guay were secure, and 1st Sgt. Leonard “Len” Lomell and Staff Sgt. Jack Kuhn ventured into the bocage (hedgerows) south of the highway. They found five of the guns and disabled them with thermite grenades. Word was immediately sent to Rudder. Before 0900, all the Rangers’ objectives on D-day at Pointe du Hoc had been met.

Village of Au Guay, near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Village of Au Guay, near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Lane through the bocage (hedgerows) near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Lane through the bocage (hedgerows) near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

View through the bocage (hedgerows) near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

View through the bocage (hedgerows) near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

View through the bocage (hedgerows) toward Au Guay, near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

View through the bocage (hedgerows) toward Au Guay, near Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Model of gun at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Model of gun at Pointe du Hoc (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Rangers 1st Sgt. Leonard “Len” Lomell and Staff Sgt. Jack Kuhn sitting on one of the 155mm guns they found and disabled on Pointe du Hoc, June 1944 (Public domain via Battle of Normandy Tours)

Rangers 1st Sgt. Leonard “Len” Lomell and Staff Sgt. Jack Kuhn sitting on one of the 155mm guns they found and disabled on Pointe du Hoc, June 1944 (Public domain via Battle of Normandy Tours)

For the rest of the day, they fended off minor attacks at the road and on the point. Late at night, the Germans launched counterattacks on the Rangers at the road positions, eventually driving them back to the point.

Map showing German attacks on US 2nd Ranger Battalion positions along highway near Pointe du Hoc, June 6-7, 1944 (US War Department, Historical Division)

Map showing German attacks on US 2nd Ranger Battalion positions along highway near Pointe du Hoc, June 6-7, 1944 (US War Department, Historical Division)

Pointe du Hoc, D-day, 6 June 1944: Lt. Col. James Rudder's Command Post was set in a cratered niche at the edge of the cliff. Lt. Eikner, in charge of the communications section, is near the center, drinking from his canteen (US Navy photo)

Pointe du Hoc, D-day, 6 June 1944: Lt. Col. James Rudder’s Command Post was set in a cratered niche at the edge of the cliff. Lt. Eikner, in charge of the communications section, is near the center, drinking from his canteen (US Navy photo)

The Rangers fighting around Lt. Col. Rudder’s command post on the point held off the Germans, preventing them from moving more guns to the position. Finally on June 8, they were relieved by forces arriving from Omaha Beach. At that time, only about ninety of the original two hundred men were capable of bearing arms. In the assault on Pointe du Hoc, twenty-six Rangers were killed, twenty-three were taken prisoner, and forty-seven were wounded.

Monument to the US 2nd Ranger Battalion at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Monument to the US 2nd Ranger Battalion at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France (Photo: Sarah Sundin, September 2017)

Today a monument stands at the tip of Pointe du Hoc, dedicated by President Ronald Reagan on June 6, 1984, the fortieth anniversary of D-day. The men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion acted with great courage, strength, initiative, and honor on that day. They accomplished their objectives and have earned their legendary place in history.

To see more historical photos of the US 2nd Ranger Battalion in training and at Pointe du Hoc, please visit my Pinterest board.

5 Responses to “The Land Beneath Us – Tour of Pointe du Hoc, Part 2”

  1. Janice Laird

    You did some very thorough research here – seeing everything from Clay’s POV!

    Reply
  2. Susan Newcomb

    Wow this is great, thank you, I now have a better visual of the battle! You could have a handbook to go along with your series. Love your books!!!

    Reply
  3. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    Sarah, thank you for sharing those beautiful pictures with us. It gave me more of an appreciation for Wyatt’s destruction of the German gun battery.

    Those Rangers had quite the obstacles and showed much courage scaling the cliffs and facing the German guns.

    Reply
  4. Myra

    Okay…viewing part 2 of your information answered part of my questions posted on part 1. As always, wonderful information and research!

    Reply
  5. Billy B Bateman

    I was a student in ROTC at Univ of Texas- Arlington, Texas. One of my active duty
    Instructors was Major Max Manifold- Infantry.
    He was a member of D Company, 2nd Ranger Bn.
    And was one of the 200 who climbed the cliff 6 June. Altho I spoke to him one time about 6 June- it was very emotional for him and I did not pursue the topic.

    Reply

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