La Pointe du Hoc

Article and photos by Doug Slowski

La Pointe du Hoc is a promontory with a 100 ft cliff overlooking the English Channel on the north-western coast of Normandy in the Calvados department, France. During World War II it was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east.

The German battery at La Pointe du Hoc was considered to have been one of the most important targets for the Allies on D-Day. The battery here was strategically positioned halfway between the US landing beaches of Omaha and Utah. Pointe du Hoc was with a 30-m straight cliff face the highest point between these two beaches – silencing the guns here would have been vital for the landing operation’s success.

The German battery at La Pointe du Hoc consisted of six case-mates (two unfinished) and a forward observation bunker. Originally, the battery consisted of six open concrete gun pits containing six 155 mm cannons but by spring 1944, four of the case-mates where fully enclosed and two anti-aircraft guns added.

The task of taking the battery was given to the US 2nd Battalion of Rangers commanded by Colonel J E Rudders. In an amazing feat of daring the rangers scaled the 30-m cliffs in just minutes – among others by using long fire brigade ladders from boats.

The Rangers held out until relieved late afternoon on June 8. Of the 225 Rangers involved in the attack on Pointe du Hoc, only 90 survived.

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is a World War II cemetery and memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, that honors American troops who died in Europe during World War II. Almost 9,400 are buried there