"Omaha beach and Pointe du Hoc"
Objectives and execution of operations
on June 6th 1944
The Anglo-Canadian forces are given the eastern sector of the landing zone: Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword beach. The Americans however must get a foothold more west, over two distinct zones: “Utah Beach” in the Manche department (West of la Vire estuary), and “Omaha Beach” a sand and pebble beach of 7km topped by a plateau approximately 40 meters high, located about 18 km west of the English landing zone in Gold Beach.
At Omaha Beach the primary objective is to establish a bridgehead 8 kilometres deep between Port en Bessin and la Vire, and to achieve as fast as possible the connection with the troops landed in Utah and Gold beaches.
The 2nd batallion of Rangers are entrusted a specific operation: climb to the top of Pointe du Hoc, a cliff about 30 metres high, and neutralise a German heavy artillery position (6 canons of 155 mm) threatening the troops landing on Omaha and Utah beaches.
Despite the extreme difficulty of the mission, the Rangers manage to seize the battery as early as 08:00 in the morning. But the situation was much different for Omaha beach…
Intense aerial and marine bombardments aimed at the German defences precede the arrival, at 06:30, of the first assault wave consisting mainly of American soldiers from the 1st and 29th infantry division. Due to the intensity of the preliminary bombings, some soldiers might have thought that the landing operations would be simpler than expected, but alas that was not the case.
Because of the state of the sea, many heavy materials indispensable for the conquest of the beach (including many tanks and chariots) were engulfed by the waves a few kilometres from the shoreline. The strong currents actually displaced the barges east of their objective, and above all, the preliminary bombings therefore completely missed their targets: the German positions remained perfectly intact.
Pinned in their position as soon as they debarked, under fire from the German defences and without heavy machinery, it’ll take several long hours for the GIs to finally manage, little by little to turn the situation around and slowly take the advantage. It is only at the cost of very heavy losses (an estimated 1000 soldiers died fighting, and another 2000 were injured or missing), that the last German shoreline positions finally fall, in the second half of the afternoon.
The "Omaha beach and Pointe du Hoc" Tour
- From Caen or Bayeux we will go directly to Omaha Beach, more precisely the “Easy Red” sector of the beach, where we will mention the details of the operations that unfolded on June 6th, 1944. You will then have the opportunity to immerse yourselves in the area, tread in the sand of this unique beach, and to walk the dunes where you will discover the remnants of the German defence positioning.
- Subsequently, we suggest the visit of one of the 4 museums of the area presenting the landing operations of Omaha Beach and displaying important collections of uniforms, equipment and materials.
- The third step of the journey is a very symbolic location representing the engagement of American and European forces during the second world war, and it is intensely emotionally charged: the American military cemetary of Colleville sur Mer, where 9387 fighters are laid to rest after being killed on D-Day or during the battle of Normandy.
- We will then follow Omaha Beach west (along the “Easy Green”, “Dog Red”, “Dog White”, “Dog Green” and “Charlie” sectors), before setting the course to Pointe du Hoc, a few kilometers away.
- Once arrived at Pointe du Hoc, we will touch on the conquest of the German position by the 2nd battalion of Rangers commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel James Earl Rudder. You will be able to discover the German fortifications implanted on the site. Almost 80 years after the end of combat, you might be taken by the scenery, still to this day affected by the heavy aerial and marine bombings of D-Day and the previous weeks.
- Finally we will make our way back to Bayeux and Caen using small country roads, surrounded by scenery that has not much changed since 1944.
- Should you wish to do so, before arriving back on the main roads we can make one last stop to the German military cemetery of La Cambe where 21,222 soldiers are laid to rest that were killed during the battle of Normandy. You might be taken by the peculiar atmosphere of the location, very different from the American cemetery of Colleville that you’ll have seen a few hours prior.
- Prior reservation required.
- Times :
Private tours: We recommend a departure at 08.30 for a return around 17.30.
Shared tours :
From Caen, departure at 08.30 and return around 17.00.
From Ouistreham, departure at 09.00 and return around 17.30.
- Rates: see page "Rates".