Pointe du Hoc 72 years ago today

| June 6, 2016

Republished almost every year;

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Rangers Mission for D-Day, 6 June 1944

The Ranger Group, attached to the 116th Infantry and commanded by Lt. Col. James E. Rudder, was given the mission to capture Pointe du Hoc and destroy the guns. The Ranger Group was made up of two battalions: the 2d Rangers, under direct command of Col. Rudder, and the 5th Rangers, under Lt. Col. Max F. Schneider. Three companies (D, E, and F) of the 2d Battalion (Task Force A) were to land from the sea at H-Hour and assault the cliff position at Pointe du Hoc. The main Ranger force (5th Battalion and Companies A and B of the 2d, comprising Task Force B) would wait off shore for a signal of success, then land at the Point. The Ranger Group would then move inland, cut the coastal highway connecting Grandcamp and Vierville, and await the arrival of the 116th Infantry from Vierville before pushing west toward Grandcamp and Maisy.

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One DUKW was hit and sunk by 20-mm fire from a cliff position near the Point. The nine surviving LCAs came in and managed to land in parallel on a 400-yard front on the east side of Point du Hoc, landing about 0705. Allied naval fire had been lifted since H-Hour, giving the Germans above the cliff time to recover. Scattered small-arms fire and automatic fire from a flanking machine-gun position hammered the LCAs, causing about fifteen casualties as the Rangers debarked on the heavily cratered strip of beach. The grapnel rockets were fired immediately on touchdown. Some of the water-soaked ropes failed to carry over the cliff, but only one craft failed to get at least one grapnel to the edge. In one or two cases, the demountable extension ladders were used. The DUKWs came in but could not get across the cratered beach, and from the water’s edge their extension ladders would not reach the top of the cliff.

Despite all difficulties, the Rangers used the ropes and ladders to scramble up the cliff. The German defenders were shocked by the bombardment and improbable assault, but quickly responded by cutting as many ropes as they could. They rushed to the cliff edge and poured direct rifle and machine gun fire on the Rangers, augmented by grenades tossed down the slope. The Rangers never broke, continuing to climb amidst the fire as Ranger BAR men picked off any exposed Germans. The destroyer USS Satterlee (DD-626) observed the Rangers’ precarious position, closed to 1500 yards and took the cliff top under direct fire from all guns, a considerable assist at a crucial time.

Within ten minutes of the landing the first Americans reached the top of the cliffs.

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I may just watch “The Longest Day” tonight. “What does ‘bitte, bitte’ mean?”

Category: Historical

Comments (29)

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  1. The phrase “Rangers Lead The Way”, was born on this beach. And is still in use today.

  2. Devtun says:

    The REAL HEROES. Unfortunately some fellow who refused army service in 1967 is getting adulation all day all night long as the “Greatest”.

    • Akpual says:

      Yep, what a frickin shame.

    • Steve says:

      You know, I didn’t actually know who you were talking about. I had to google “refused military service” AND “1967” to find out who you were talking about.

      I had no idea. Funny how this little fact is being systematically glossed over by the media right now.

      Cheers to the real heroes.

    • HMC Ret says:

      It’s a slurp fest by MSM. They are in competition to see who can come up with the greatest accolades for the artful dodger. When I hear his name, the first thing coming to mind is his possibly convenient finding of religion. MSM praise him for his moral convictions. Me? Not so much. Just a dodger as were so many who found an escape clause at the time. Mostly the dodgers were today’s politicians, rich people, those who suddenly decided that college was their avenue to success and others with connections. As with this guy, those people are today held in high regard by liberals (and others) for their moral stance against an ‘unpopular’ war. Heaven help us if we ever have a popular war.

  3. Richard says:

    Stand on that cliff top and look down. I know that the Rangers took it but it seems incredible.

    • sj says:

      Amen. Been there several times and never get over the awe of those men doing that.

    • USAF E-5 says:

      I’ve been on that cliff myself. Gave me goosebumps. Colonel Joseph Conrad PhD taught that class if I’m recalling correctly. I took every battlefield class he taught. Man knew things about every single encounter. It quite nearly caused me to grab that degree in History, it did.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    ‘bitte, bitte’ means ‘please don’t shoot me’.

    The shrapnel left behind on the beaches has been worn down into tiny pellets. There are tiny black specks in the sands of those beaches. That is what remains of the shrapnel.

    • Jabatam says:

      Out of context, “bitte, bitte” literally translates into “please, please.” I’m sure that, in context, the “don’t shoot me” part is heavily implied though

  5. Sparks says:

    Thank God for those men and all they gave this day so long ago. Here’s to Rangers and all those who landed that day. Here-Here!!!!

  6. Ex-PH2 says:

    Here’s a link to a series of color photographs of the Normandy invasion. At about the 6th slide, there is a photo of some of the Rangers.

    http://www.chron.com/news/nation-world/article/D-Day-The-Invasion-of-Normandy-in-color-7965282.php

    • Poetrooper says:

      There are Rangers in the 2d pic, too. The Ranger standing in the front of the landing craft appears to have a silver oak leaf on his helmet. I wonder if that’s Rudder.

  7. UpNorth says:

    In commemoration of D-Day, the Preezy with the Steezy is, today, meeting and greeting the Denver Broncos, at the House that Slaves Built(according the First Wookie). Maybe Ben Rhodes thought the “D” in D-Day meant Denver, and that’s what he told Buh-rock?
    Meanwhile, I remain in awe of those men who carried out D-Day.

  8. Green Thumb says:

    RLTW!

    All The Way!

  9. Jabatam says:

    The 16th Infantry Regiment fought so fiercely that day that the Germans thought they were Rangers too. From that time forth, their regiment nickname was “Rangers.” Around the time of the Vietnam days when they became mechanized, they modified their name to “Iron Rangers.” To my knowledge, it’s the only unit outside of an actual Ranger Batt that is authorized the use of the word “Ranger” in their name.

    Seems I remember a poser a couple of years ago who served in the 1st Bn, 16th In Rgt trying to pass himself off as a Ranger because of that.

    • Poetrooper says:

      Jabatam, the Wikipedia page for the 16th notes the “Rangers” nickname but has no explanation as to why. Someone needs to get that unique bit of information included.

      • Jabatam says:

        I could add it but it would go as an unverified source because I have nothing substantial to back it up with. I only know that history because my first unit was the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry and from attending a handful of Soldier of the Month boards and the Sergeant promotion board where we had to know unit history…I think my team leader/squad leader provided me with a printout of our history. I know that, prior to the GWOT, the 16th Infantey Regiment was one of the most decorated units with 5 PUCs

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      Ward Reilly was his name. He also pretends to be a Vietnam vet.

  10. Sparks says:

    I just paused watching “The Longest Day” to write this. It amazes me still, as many times as I have seen this and other films and with all the many books of WWII history I have consumed, that these Rangers and all those who participated in the invasion this day so long ago, actually did what they did.

    To remember today that many 17 and 18 year old young men landed that day and faced those horrors so valiantly gives me pause about something.

    It gives me pause and saddens me when I look at our current generation and the adults who support and encourage them. Who say now that 17 and 18 year old boys “need a safe place, because…words do hurt”, as I read on one Facebook post.

    There was no safe place for those who invaded on June 6th 1944. None. And not from words either, but from death itself.

    God help this nation if we should ever need to call up a draft and depend on this generation to step up, as those of that generation did so willingly.

    God bless and keep the United States of America. May we never allow this or any generation to forget to whom they owe their freedom.

    • HMC Ret says:

      You nailed it, Sparks. Imagine climbing that ladder up the sheer face of the hill, each knowing that they probably wouldn’t come out alive. Jeez, what men they were. Any equal comparison with those today who need a safe space and group hug is a departure from reality.

  11. Semper Idem says:

    Always nice to see good American patriots remembering our Greatest Generation. Thanks for posting this.

    Oh, and although it’s probably been mentioned by now, the word ‘bitte’ is German for ‘please’. ;o)

  12. FatCircles0311 says:

    Amphibious landing!

    Oorah, gents. Job well done.

  13. Thunderstixx says:

    Safe space…
    Interposed over the picture of men leaving the Higgins boats on Omaha Beach with the words, “Harden the fuck up”…

  14. Just An Old Dog says:

    I can’t even imagine riding one of those Landing craff in while hearing the rounds of an MG42 bouncing off the front of the ramp as the Germans Zeroed in on it waiting for it to drop.

  15. CRAIG PAYNE says:

    I pushed my draft up in 1967 went in the Army Sept 27,1967. Left Vietnam in 1969 And remember this guy shooting his mouth off in all the papers as our brothers were dying day after day after day. I didnt have anything good to say about him then an i dont have anything good to say now. But him him fuck him