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:
- Tour of London Part 1
- Tour of London, Part 2
- Tour: D-Day at Sea (includes photos of the Isle of Wight and crossing the English Channel)
- Tour of Omaha Beach
- Tour of the Queen Mary (sister ship of the Queen Elizabeth)
From The Land Beneath Us:
Today—Pointe du Hoc, Part 2
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.