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Pointe du Hoc 1944

Pointe du Hoc 1944

by Tim Saunders


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The attack by Rudder’s Rangers on Pointe du Hoc, as one of the opening acts of D Day, is without doubt an epic of military history. As a result of Montgomery’s upscaling of the invasion General Bradley’s First US Army had to deal with a dangerous coastal gun battery that would dominate the approaches to both Omaha and Utah Beaches. When the plan to climb the defended cliff and put the guns out of action was first discussed, an astounded staff officer said ‘Two old ladies with brooms cold sweep them off those cliffs!’

Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder, commander of the Provisional Ranger Group consisting of 2nd and 5th US Rangers, set about training his men and developing techniques to get up the hundred-foot-high cliff. Rocket fired grapples, ladders of various types and even free climbing of a similar lose cliff on England’s south coast were practiced.

On D-Day everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Lesser men would have given up, with the force having navigated towards the wrong headland, been continuously under fire as they motored back towards Pointe du Hoc, shipping water in the rough seas, craft sinking and few of the saturated grapples reaching the cliff top. None the less determined Rangers with German infantry hurling grenades down on them struggled up the cliff but the guns were not there.

With the Rangers fanning out across the wrecked battery and into the fields beyond the guns were found in an orchard and destroyed with thermite grenades. Mission accomplished but at 1300 hours there was no sign of the relieving force from Omaha. Colonel Rudder with his radios barely working appealed for help but with a near disaster at Omaha, neither help or relief was forthcoming. Consequently, the 200 Rangers fought on against mounting pressure in an equally epic battle until finally relieved two days later.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781473889163
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 06/14/2018
Series: Battleground Normandy Series
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 1,172,605
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Tim Saunders served as an infantry officer with the British Army for thirty years, during which time he took the opportunity to visit campaigns far and wide, from ancient to modern. Since leaving the Army he has become a full time military historian, with this being his seventeenth book. He has made nearly fifty full documentary films with Battlefield History and Pen & Sword, and is an active and Accredited Member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.

Table of Contents

Introduction 7

1 Origins of the US Rangers 9

2 The German Defenders of Normandy 27

3 The D-Day Ranger Plan 55

4 Embarkation and Passage 79

5 Ranger Force B at OMAHA Beach 99

6 Pointe du Hoc: Escalade and Assault 115

7 Ranger Force C at OMAHA Beach 136

8 Finding the Guns and Holding the Pointe 164

9 The Relief Column 190

10 Subsequent Operations 201

Appendix I A Tour of Pointe du Hoc 222

Appendix II A Tour of the Inland Position 226

Appendix III A Visit to OMAHA Beach DOG Sector 228

Index 232

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