Rangers Road Trip
Experience a cliff top battle site and walk around a secret gun batterie
HALF DAY: Pointe du Hoc > Maisy Batterie
Rangers Road Trip Part 1 - Pointe du Hoc battle site
LOCATION: Pointe du Hoc, 14450 Cricqueville-en-Bessin
Located to the west of Omaha and the east of Utah landing beaches, Pointe du Hoc was a huge batterie with the capability of firing on both landing areas - if the guns suspected of being at the location would have actually been in their emplacements on D-Day.
As most know, the six 155mm guns had been withdrawn form their unprotected positions and casemates in the days preceding June 6, 1944 and five were found stored in an orchard to the rear of the batterie, the sixth gun was nearby too.
The strongpoint is one of the most documented locations of WW2 thanks to the heroics of the US 2nd Rangers who climbed the 100ft cliff face under fire to storm the batterie and secure it, holding out for two days until support arrived.
Located on top of the gun batterie’s fire control post just behind the pointe itself there's a memorial to the 2nd Rangers. In the shape of a Rangers' dagger, the inscription on the plinth reads: ‘To the Heroic Ranger Commandoes of the 116th Infantry who, under the command of Colonel James Earl Rudder of the First American Division, attacked and took possession of the Pointe du Hoc’.
The Pointe du Hoc site has largely been fenced off to help protect the site from the millions of visitors who walk its paths each tourist season but you can still see many of the structures including the original open emplacements where the guns would have stood, and the two R694 casemates that replaced the open emplacements, as you walk the circular track around the site.
In the days prior to D-Day the site received a lot of attention from Allied aircraft and it's only when you view the site from above that you can appreciate the number of bomb craters on this cliff top strongpoint - simply incredible!
In early 2022 a large section on the eastern side of the stack which makes up the pointe collapsed into the sea and it’s only a matter of time before natural erosion takes away the rest although plans are being put in place to slow this process.
APPROX. TIME: 2.5 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: Pointe du Hoc is signposted from the D514 coast road. The site is 7km to the west of Vierville-sur-Mer and 5km east of Grandcamp-Maisy. Lots of parking but can get busy so best to go early or late.
Rangers Road Trip Part 2 - Maisy Batterie
LOCATION: Maisy Batterie, Les Perruques, 14450 Grandcamp-Maisy
Buried out of sight for nearly 60 years following its capture by US Rangers in June 1944, the extensive Maisy Batterie just 2km to the west of Omaha Beach is like stepping back in time.
No one really knows why but Maisy - also known as Widerstandsnest 83 Les Perruques - was a top secret location during the war and even the locals didn’t know what was being constructed here. Soon after its capture the whole site became completely buried by vegetation and forgotten.
The site was rediscovered by a chance find of a hand-drawn map hidden away in the pocket of an old US soldier’s uniform by English historian Gary Sterne who subsequently bought the land and began excavations in 2004.
What he found was simply incredible! The site you can see today contains over 2km of trenches, personnel shelters, ammunition stores, a water well, hospital bunker, and huge, open gun emplacements which could reach both Omaha and Utah beach landing areas with its four 155mm guns.
The Maisy Batterie is actually made up of three strongpoints in close proximity with the nearby Wn84 boasting three R612 type casemates for 10cm Skoda howitzer guns plus a personnel building, ammo bunker, and defensive Tobruks.
APPROX. TIME: 2.5 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: From Pointe du Hoc car park head back to the roundabout on the D514 road and turn right heading for Grandcamp-Maisy. After 5km you'll pass the World Peace statue and then take the second right at the roundabout near the Carrefour supermarket.
Continue on the D514 over the speed bumps for 1km and you'll see signs for the Maisy Batterie. Turn right and then left into the large car park area. Total drive time 10mins (7.2km).