Segment of barbed wire from the German defenses at Pont du Hoc, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.
Point-du-Hoc, a fortified German strong hold atop the cliffs west of Omaha Beach, was taken by Companies D, E, and F of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. The Rangers scaled the 100 foot high cliff using grapnel hooks, ropes, and ladders, while under heavy enemy fire.
Once the concrete gun emplacements were reached it was discovered that the Germans had moved the five 155 mm guns that the Rangers had been sent to destroy. Patrols were sent out. Incredibly, the weapons were found a short way inland hidden in an orchard and temporally unattended. Sergeants Leonard Lomell and Jack Kuhn used their thermite grenades to damage the guns’ firing mechanisms. Lommell later received the Distinguished Service Cross and Kuhn the Silver Star for destroying these menacing cannon that easily could have caused extensive casualties on the beaches below had they not been put out of action.
The attack on Point-du-Hoc was costly and difficult largely due to the failure of the pre-invasion aerial and naval bombardments to seriously damage the site’s defenses. This 1944 relic piece of barbed wire is from atop the cliff the 2nd Rangers scaled on D-Day.
Metal. L 12.3, H 14.3 cm
Eisenhower National Historic Site, EISE 12239.