Friday, September 08, 2006

La Pointe du Hoc

If you were in a rush to see D-day things in Normandy, go to the American cemetery, but make some time for Pointe du Hoc. First a bit of history, the Germans had some very big guns and defensive emplacements on a spur of land overlooking Omaha Beach (and a wider area). Their numerous concrete bunkers kept working unless hit directly by artillery. Colonel Rudder and 225 of his men scaled the steep cliffs of Pointe du Hoc and took out those guns. They radioed "mission accomplished" and asked for supplies, relief and reinforcement as there had been "many casualties". By the time relief arrived - only 90 men were still "battle ready". The point now is a moonscape of shell craters and concrete bunkers in various states of disrepair (though several are still in pretty good shape). You can really see the awesome destructive power of war. And the most amazing thing about it, is that the whole place is a dangerous, tetanus-threatening playground. You can clamber in and over the bunkers (even the ones that look as though they might finally fall in with a good shove). You can run over precarious paths between craters, and there's plenty of exposed rusty rebar and barbed wire to cut you good. There are plans to develop the site further, but I hope they leave it just as unsafe.

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