In the time leading up to D-Day the allied planners went to great lengths to try and locate all German coastal batteries that could cause severe damage to the troops landing on the beaches. They believed that one of the most formidable ones lay on the Pointe du Hoc as it could zone in on Utah and Omaha beach. They decided to give the job of silencing these guns to the 2d Ranger Battalion led by Lieutenant-Colonel James E. Rudder. The guns were situated on top of steep cliffs and were protected by concrete emplacements, trench systems, machine gun pits and barbed wire.
The plan was for three companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion to land at the base of the cliffs, climb them and assault the guns. The wind and currents pulled the Rangers off course but eventually they got back and neared their destination, it was now that they started coming under heavy fire from the Germans on the cliffs above them.The Rangers landed on the little sandy beach and began to fire grappling hooks up the cliff face to try and get a hold to climb them.
Prior to the Rangers climbing 18 medium bombers had dropped their loads causing the Germans to go to ground and as a result the Rangers found the area badly pock marked. The Rangers moved across the area, firing at any Germans to be seen, to the gun emplacements upon reaching them they were amazed to find that there were no guns installed in them at all, just telegraph poles to look like guns from the air.
Colonel Rudder then split his force into two, one was to set up a defensive position while the other group set off up the road to look for the guns which they eventually found in an orchard. The Rangers then blew them up. The Germans throughout the day counterattacked but despite many dead the Rangers held on. They had started off with 225 men and by the end of the battle they had lost 135.
Today, the visitor can see an area that has been left in its original condition with craters, blown up emplacements, remains of barbed wire and bunkers.