Since today marks the 78th anniversary of D-Day I thought I’d post an image of one of the D-Day battlefields, the Pointe du Hoc.
Located about four miles west of, and overlooking Omaha Beach, three companies of US Rangers were tasked to scale the 100 ft (30m) cliffs and engage the enemy before the main assault on Omaha Beach. At the top of the cliffs here was a set of bunkers and heavy artillery emplacements.
The assault party got off track owing to the bad weather and arrived 40 minutes behind schedule and having lost the element of surprise. Using rocket propelled grappling hooks, ladders and ropes they managed to scale the cliffs, only to find the guns were gone – the Germans had moved them on June 4.
The Rangers then had the task of holding the ground until relieved on June 7. This proved more costly than the assault. At the end of June 7, only 90 of the 225 Rangers that had landed were still able to fight.
I took this photo in March of 1987 on a drive through Normandy during which I visited many of the key battlefields. When you visit in the cold rain and snow you have these sites virtually to yourself. This gives one much more time to reflect than if you visit in June or during the summer months when everyone else is visiting.
The tall feature at the top of the cliffs is the Ranger Monument. If you visit, other than the passage of time smoothing the rough edges, you’ll find the area at the top of the cliffs pretty much as the Rangers left it, full of bomb craters and broken concrete.