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Normandy: the Fortified Structure of La Pointe du Hoc

A 30-meter cliff overlooking the English channel on Normandy's coast, Pointe du Hoc was captured on the morning of June 6, 1944 by Colonel James E. Rudder and the American Second Ranger Battalion.

The site was also one of key features of the German defensive fortifications and reminds us of what an artillery battery was like, with its firing command post, casemates and shelters. It is open to the public free of charge.

During the American assault of Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944, these U.S. Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliff and seized the German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops at Omaha and Utah beaches. They successfully defended against determined German counter-attacks, but at a high cost of life: by the time the fighting finally ceased on June 8th, 81 of the rangers had been killed and 58 more had been wounded.

Bomb Craters

Today the site, which France turned over to the US government in 1979, looks much like it did over a half century ago. The ground is pockmarked with bomb craters, and the German command post (no longer open to the public due to its proximity to an eroding cliff) and several of the concrete gun emplacements are still standing, scarred by bullet holes and blackened by flame-throwers. Facing the sea, Utah Beach can be seen 14 km to the left.

A memorial has been erected atop a cliff in honour of Colonel Rudder and the American Second Ranger Battalion. The monument consists of a simple granite pylon positioned atop a German concrete bunker with tablets at its base inscribed in French and English.

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