Assault on Normandy
Pointe du Hoc
Run time: 90 mins
The German battery of six 150mm guns established on Point du Hoc during 1943 covered both the American Omaha and Utah Beaches. It wasn’t a suitable objective for paratroopers, who were anyway fully committed. On hearing the Ranger plan to scale the cliffs and seize the battery before the landings, experienced commanders commented that ‘an old woman with a brush could sweep them off the cliffs’. To get up the hundred foot high cliffs Colonel Rudder developed and trained 2nd Rangers in scaling techniques that included sectional aluminium commando ladders, rocket grapples and ropes, plus the so called Swans–London Fire Brigade ladders.
In the event bad weather, navigational errors and communications failure meant that less than 200 Rangers were delivered to the foot of the cliffs late and under enemy fire. In an epic of American military history against every kind of difficulty, small groups of Rangers battled their way up ropes and ladders, with grenades bursting around them, to scale the muddy unstable cliff. A handful of men spread out and cleared the stunned defenders but, as often is the case, seizing the objective was only a part of the battle. Isolated for over 24 hours, with no relief from the near disaster at Omaha, the Rangers fought on against increasingly determined German counter-attacks.