Pointe du Hoc

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Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc is on the coast of Normandy in the north of France. In 1944 it was part of the biggest sea invasion in history. During World War II, Allied military commanders were planning how to attack France, which had been captured by the Nazis. While planning, the Allied commanders noticed the massive coastal guns at Pointe du Hoc. There were six 155mm cannons in heavily armoured bunkers that could be very dangerous to Allied ships.

Allied planes, flying from English airstrips, bombed Pointe du Hoc. However, the heavy artillery guns at Pointe du Hoc were barely damaged by the bombs.

Pointe du Hoc was surrounded by steep cliffs that dropped down into the sea. A very narrow beach would appear at the bottom of the cliffs, but only at a certain part of the day. For about five months, the U.S. 2nd and 5th Ranger divisions had been training with British commandos to prepare for their attack on France. They had been climbing British coastal cliffs for training.

Once the Allied commanders decided to attack France, they used flat-bottomed landing boats made to carry troops onto the beach at the French coastal cliffs. These special landing boats were called LCA and LCVP's or Higgins boats, and were driven British navy sailors. 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 landing crafts to protect them. This meant that the boats were better protected, but not as fast or easily moved in different directions.

The nearly 100m high cliff at Pointe du Hoc was attacked by the American 2nd and 5th Army Ranger Divisions. Colonel James Earl Rudder led the attack. The attack started at 06.30am, when the battleship USS Texas stopped bombarding Pointe du Hoc. Due to bad weather, the Rangers drifted off course and spent an extra half hour reaching the beach. By then, the Germans had come out of their bunkers and set up defensive positions along the ridge of the cliff.

Once the landing boats reached the beach, their doors were opened and the Army Rangers ran up the beach to the cliffs. The soldiers used ropes attached to rocket-propelled 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 German positions. After reaching the German bunkers, where the Germans' guns were, the Rangers found that the guns were no longer there. The guns were later found and destroyed in a field a bit inland.

At the end of the attack, the Rangers were forced to defend Pointe Du Hoc from constant counterattacks until they were relieved by the 5th Army Corps coming from a neighboring beach. Out of the 225 original attackers, only 90 remained.

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