Saturday, October 8, 2016

Normandie - October break some nice stuff

One of the two completed casements at Pointe du Hoc

Occasionally on the blog I will include some non period specific items because they are interesting and are worth sharing. On my fourth trip to Normandy in the last 13 years I revisited some places which have become familiar to me.
The grave of Michael Wittmann and his crew

How I could have missed this on two previous trips? Look at how worn the ground is!

The German Military Cemetery at La Cambe was until 1948 a US War Graves site.

In particular I wanted to find the grave of Michael Wittmann and his crew in La Cambe German Cemetery. I had visited twice before but never thought to look for it. As you can see from the pictures it was difficult to miss for a couple of reasons. The very peaceful cemetery at La Cambe was until 1948 a US war graves site until the American Servicemen were repatriated for burial at home. The crosses do not mark graves but plot numbers. All German graves have flat stone markers with two men buried in each. There are some exceptions with multiple remains interred together such as Wittmann's plot. The earth around Wittmann's grave was trodden bare and his plot was one of the few but not the only one with flowers and candles. However wrong the cause he espoused, it is clear that he is still recognized by many as a heroic soldier.

Bomb or 15 inch naval shell hole? Chris Hilton down a 20 foot crater at Pointe du Hoc

Despite the titanic bombardment many bunkers remain intact. Inside of a command bunker
View across the apocalyptic Pointe du Hoc position from the west


An open 155mm gun position - they didn't have time to complete all of the casements

The German gunner's perspective. Ground level view from an MG cupola towards the cliff edge

Intact Forward Observation bunker right on the cliff at Pointe du Hoc

German view of 060644 - Pointe du Hoc FO HQ looking to England

FO HQ from the cliff edge. Looking into the slit which the last shot looked out of

The Rangers came up here using rocket propelled grappling hooks fired by hand!

Looking west, Utah Beach around this point - taken from Pointe du Hoc

Looking east - around this headland - Omaha Beach. Taken from Pointe du Hoc

We wanted to visit Pointe du Hoc again to marvel at the lunar landscape and the site of the daring assault by the US Rangers. On a beautiful autumn day we crawled and climbed for about 90 minutes marvelling at the place. As someone in our party said. Why would anyone want to fight a war on a day like today? Very true.

Bloody Omaha looking west towards Pointe du Hoc

Following the surreal experience at Pointe du Hoc we took in the beautiful, peaceful, clean and gentile stretch of beach which was Bloody Omaha. Humans transform tranquil pieces of the planet into hell and then after a while they revert back to what they always were.


Bloody Omaha looking east towards Arromanches and the British attack zones

From our base in the former home of Bishop Odon of Bayeaux, half brother to William the Conqueror we are perfectly positioned to do some more exploring. Tomorrow It will be the Chateau Riviere which I can see across the fields about three miles distant. It was once a major fortress owned by Odon's descendants. It was inhabited until 1698. It was a German munitions dump in 1944 which was fought over and dynamited before the American's could take it. Now it's a stork sanctuary!

1 comment:

  1. Seem s like ages when I was there myself in the late 1980s. From some of the pictures it looks if there have been a few "changes".
    Are still some areas on the point the Hoc where it is not permitted to leave the paved ways? In my Days it was because of several thousand undiscovered "gifts" of the Germans there.

    ReplyDelete

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