Friday, August 10, 2012

D-Day Tour Part 2

For Part I of the D-Day Tour, go here
For Part III of the D-Day Tour, go here

During our tour we passed through a number of idyllic French towns. Unfortunately we didn't stop and I wasn't able to get any pictures. But they were exactly as you would imagine little French towns would look. It made me want to come back, rent a car and spend days driving around the French countryside with Quinn. It is beautiful country and we loved the time we spent here.

Pointe du Hoc

After leaving Omaha Beach, we traveled through the countryside to Pointe du Hoc, which in English means 'Cape of the Hook'.

Pointe du Hoc was a significant gun battery as it faced both Utah and Omaha beaches. The 2nd Rangers Battalion was tasked with scaling the cliffs to take out the 105mm artillery cannons.

After doing so at great loss of life, they discovered that the guns were not in fact in the battery. The Germans had made fake guns out of telephone poles lying horizontally out of the ground which looked real from the air, and they had not even finished building the batteries.

A Sergeant and another Ranger on patrol found the five guns, one in horrible shape, one in fair shape, and three pointed at Omaha Beach, but there were no German soldiers near the guns. The Rangers made the guns inoperable while the Germans nursed hangovers in a nearby hedgerow, unaware.
There are over 3000 craters at Pointe du Hoc. The area was closed for 10 years after the war to clean up.
Inside bunker at Pointe du Hoc
Our very French tour guide Stefan, recently retired from the French Legionnaires after 31 years of service. He was incredibly knowledgeable on the events of D-Day and had a great sense of humour. Here he is at Pointe du Hoc.


Our next stop was Sainte-Mere-Eglise for lunch and a tour of the museum. Kyle and I went into a Boulangerie and I competely ordered (in French) a quiche, a tartine, and two pain au chocolat for our lunch, which we ate in the sun on a bench across from the church.

In the confusion of D-Day, many paratroopers were dropped far from their intended targets, with some landing in towns instead of the countryside. One unfortunate paratrooper got caught up in teh steeple of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, and there is a stone statue complete with cloth parachute to mark it.


 More to come in Part 3.

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