Supporting the Rangers at Pointe Du Hoc
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Unit/ Formation: Landing Craft Units
Location: Pointe Du Hoc
Period/ Conflict: World War II
Date/s: 6th June 1944
East of Utah beach was the formidable cliff face of Pointe du Hoc, atop which, intelligence sources believed, were heavy enemy guns.
In the D-Day plan, Pointe du hoc was within the Omaha area but its heavy guns could range over incoming craft and troops making for both Omaha and Utah beaches. It was essential to silence these guns.
The task was assigned to the men of the US 2nd Ranger Battalion under the command of Colonel James Rudder.
A field modification was developed by US Rangers with assistance from LCA crews and Commandos, for the famous Pointe du Hoc assault of 6 June 1944. Each of the 10 LCAs of Flotillas 510 and 522 which carried the 2nd Ranger Battalion to Pointe du Hoc was fitted with 3 pairs of rocket tubes, firing six-tine grapnels. These pulled up (by pairs) ¾" plain ropes, toggle ropes, and rope ladders.
The ropes and ladders were stowed in three large tackle boxes mounted down either side of the LCA decks and the rocket tubes were positioned down either side behind the corresponding boxes. In addition, each craft carried a pair of small hand-projector-type rockets, which could be easily carried ashore and fired small 100 ft ropes. These could carry to full extension provided the line was dry and used in moderate weather conditions.
Each craft also carried tubular-steel extension ladders made up of light, four-foot sections suitable for quick assembly. These modified craft had the central bench in the well removed. At least some of the LCAs also had smoke floats on the stern and the armament in the gunner's shelter was a Lewis gun, but a variety of Brens and other light weapons were also carried.
Royal Marine, John Lambourne was present serving with the LCS(M) (Landing Craft Support (Medium)) 102 of 901 Flotilla. He and his crew were assigned to the troopship Prince Leopold, which carried the LCAs of the Royal Navy’s 504 Flotilla in support as LCAs carrying the Rangers made their way to the beach.
Lambourne watched in awe as the Rangers attained the beach and began scaling the cliff by way of grappling hooks fired from their LCAs. The memory of the bravery he witnessed remained forever with him.
The LCS(M) provided fire support and smoke cover for assault flotillas, and had been manned by seamen crews with a small RM detachment of gunners, until they were taken over by all RM crews.
'We were with the British. They were the best.'
Lieutenant Ray Nance, a veteran of and second in command of A Company of 116th Infantry Regiment
The LCS(Medium), of which both Mark 2s and 3s were in action on 6 June 1944 off Normandy, with twin–.5 machine guns, a 4–in smoke mortar (later firing an HE bomb) and smoke generators. The following RM LCS(M) Flotillas have been identified: 901 and 903–6, and there is one reference to No. 902 as an RM Flotilla of 1945.
There were other stories of British involvement at Pointe du Hoc.
At least two of the DUKW drivers, Corporal Good and Private Blackmore, scaled the cliffs using the rope ladders and joined the Rangers in the fight as riflemen. When ammunition was running low they went back down the cliffs and recovered machine guns from the DUKWs, which were under fire. They then returned up the cliff and brought the machine guns into action.
Pte Blackmore was wounded in the foot. After receiving first aid, he then returned to the front line and rescued a badly wounded Ranger under machine gun and mortar fire. He then volunteered to carry ammunition to the front line, salvage ammunition from the beach and repair weapons until he was evacuated on 7th June.
Cpl Good remained with the 2nd Rangers until Pointe Du Hoc was relieved by a force arriving by land from Omaha Beach to the East on 8th June. Pte Blackmore was originally recommended for a DCM, the second highest British Medal for Gallantry, but it was downgraded to an MM.
Full story here; http://www.theobservationpost.com/blog/?p=727
Other articles of interest;
Royal Marines WWII Landing Craft Crews - Europe
The story of the Royal Navy on Omaha Beach