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This June 6th marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Two of the most difficult operations carried out on June 6th 1944 were the takeover of Pointe du Hoc and the landing of the first troops at Omaha Beach.
Pointe du Hoc
The mission of the Allied Rangers was to climb the 100 foot rock wall and then destroy the German artillery to clear the way for the troop landings at Omaha and Utah beaches. The Rangers’ position was completely unfavorable, as the Germans rained bullets at them from above, while also cutting their ropes as they climbed up.
Once on the hilltop, though, the Rangers used grenades to take out the German troops hiding in the concrete bunkers. The Germans were overwhelmed by the Allies, an their limited coffin-like concrete bunkers made it impossible to escape.
The bloodiest battles happened at Omaha beach as the Allies stormed towards the land on one of the widest, most open ended beaches one can find, with no shelter in sight. Only a fraction of the 1st and 29th Infantry Division managed to reach the top of the bluff.
As you drive around the beautiful landscape and picturesque villages of Normandy, you can maybe slightly imagine the terror that must have rushed through a soldier’s veins in that dark, wet, gloomy summer night as they parachuted into unknown territory with unknown outcomes.
There are numerous sites along the Normandy coast where time stands still. You can still see those coffin-like bunkers, the barbed wire on the bluff, and the open ended beaches.
You get a perspective of both, the threat that the Allies faced when moving in from the sea, and the chaos and destruction that must have ensued in the dwindling German ranks once the Allies reached the top of the bluffs.