Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc is a place in the Normandy in northern France. It has steep cliffs about 100 m high that drop down toward the sea and a very thin beach at the bottom that is underwater at high tide and dry at low tide. It was important during World War II.
In 1944, Pointe du Hoc was part of Operation Overlord, which was the biggest sea invasion in history. During World War II, the Allied military commanders planned how to attack France, which had been captured by the German Wehrmacht. The Germans had put very large guns at Pointe du Hoc. There were six 155mm cannons in concrete forts that could shoot at Allied ships and troops that wanted to come on land at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach.
For about five months, the U.S. Rangers trained with British commandos to prepare for their attack on France. They practiced climbing British cliffs.
Once the Allied commanders decided to attack France, they used flat-bottomed landing craft made to carry troops onto beaches. These special landing boats were called LCA and LCVP's or Higgins boats. British navy sailors sailed them. The boats were lowered into the sea a few kilometers away from the cliffs. The British had added some extra armour to the sides of the boats to protect them. This made it harder for the boats to move fast and turn.
The American 2nd and 5th Army Ranger Divisions attached the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. Colonel James Earl Rudder led the attack. The attack started at 6:30 a.m of D-Day, when the battleship USS Texas stopped shooting at Pointe du Hoc. Because the weather was bad, the Rangers' boats drifted in the water and it took an extra half hour for them to get to the beach. By then, the Germans had come out of their forts and were ready at the top of the cliff.
The American landing boats reached the beach, and the Army Rangers ran up the beach to the cliffs. The soldiers used ropes attached to rocket-powered grappling hooks to climb the cliffs. Two soldiers carried the ropes and grappling hooks in a wooden box. The soldiers also used ladders that were attached to landing boats and grappling hooks that were shot up from the boats.
When the Rangers reached the top of the cliffs, small groups of soldiers attacked the Germans. After reaching the forts, where they thought the Germans kept their guns, the Rangers found that the guns were no longer there. The Rangers went inland and searched for the guns and found them. They used thermite fire grenades to melt important parts of the guns.
Out of 225 soldiers only 90 were still able to fight when reinforcements came.
- Stephen E. Ambrose. "Pointe-Du-Hoc". WORLD WAR HISTORY. INFO.