Men of D-Day


    
 Troop Carrier
Michael N. Ingrisano
Robert E. Callahan
Benjamin F. Kendig
John R. Devitt
Arthur W. Hooper
Ward Smith
Julian A. Rice
Charles E. Skidmore
Sherfey T. Randolph
Louis R. Emerson Jr.
Leonard L. Baer
Robert D. Dopita
Harvey Cohen
Zane H. Graves
John J. Prince
Henry C. Hobbs
John C. Hanscom
Charles S. Cartwright
 
 82nd Airborne
Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr.
Marie-T Lavieille
Denise Lecourtois
Howard Huebner
Malcolm D. Brannen
Thomas W. Porcella
Ray T. Burchell
Robert C. Moss
Richard R. Hill
Edward W. Shimko
 
 101st Airborne
John Nasea, Jr
David 'Buck' Rogers
Marie madeleine Poisson
Roger Lecheminant
Dale Q. Gregory
George E. Willey
Raymond Geddes
 
 Utah Beach
Joseph S. Jones
Jim McKee
Eugene D. Shales
Milton Staley
 
 Omaha Beach
Melvin B. Farrell
James R. Argo
Carl E. Bombardier
Robert M. Leach
Joseph Alexander
James Branch
John Hooper
Anthony Leone
George A. Davison
James H. Jordan
Albert J. Berard
Jewel M. Vidito
H. Smith Shumway
Louis Occelli
John H. Kellers
Harley A. Reynolds
John C. Raaen
Wesley Ross
Richard J. Ford
William C. Smith
Ralph E. Gallant
James W. Gabaree
James W. Tucker
Robert Watson
Robert R. Chapman
Robert H. Searl
Leslie Dobinson
William H. Johnson
 
 Gold Beach
George F. Weightman
Norman W. Cohen
Walter Uden
 
 Juno Beach
Leonard Smith
 
 Sword Beach
Brian Guy
 
 6th Airborne
Roger Charbonneau
Frederick Glover
Jacques Courcy
Arlette Lechevalier
Charles S. Pearson
 
 U.S.A.A.F
Harvey Jacobs
William O. Gifford
 
Civils
Philippe Bauduin
Albert Lefevre
René Etrillard
Suzanne Lesueur
 

 

Carl Edward Bombardier
Pfc, F Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion - June 6, 1944 Pointe du Hoc

This article was submitted in 1994 to the Brockton Enterprise for the 50th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion by the son of Carl E. Bombardier of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, Captain Leon A. Bombardier, US Army Corps of Engineers.

Two Abington, Massachusetts residents participated in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, as members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion; Pfc Carl E. Bombardier and Pfc Charles H. Bellows Jr. In the tradition of the British Commandos under the "buddy" system, the two young men joined the newly formed 2nd Ranger Battalion activated at Camp Forrest, Tennessee on April 1, 1943. After 14 months of intense training and at the young age of 20 years, they were involved in the Normandy invasion at Pointe du Hoc.

The mission of D, E, and F Companies of the 2nd Ranger on D-Day was to secure the coastal artillery battery located on top of the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, strategically situated between Omaha and Utah beaches and of cutting the road running behind the Pointe from Saint-Pierre-du-Mont to Grandcamp.
The six 155 mm French guns had an estimated range of more than 14 miles and were considered a serious threat to the Allied landing forces in these areas.

The Germans believed the position at Pointe du Hoc as impregnable from seaward attack. Machine guns and antiaircraft guns were set up on each flank. The landward approaches were defended with mines and barbed wire. The emplacement was defended elements of the German 352nd Infrantry Division with more than 200 infantry and artillerymen, members of the German 726th Infantry Regiment, 716th Infantry Division and the 2nd Battery, 832nd Army Coastal Battalion.

On the morning of June 6th Carl Bombardier remembered leaving the British Channel steamer H.M.S. Ben Machree for the LCA assault craft.

"It was a foggy, overcast morning," Carl recalled for Proctor & Gamble Company magazine published on the 25th anniversary, "The seas were rough and some of the boats were taking on a lot of water and some of them were even swamped. Unlike many of the other landing forces not used to the heavy seas, most of us weren't bothered too much by seasickness. We carried only thermite grenades, carbines, automatic rifles and M-1's and limited food supplies with us. I think that the only food I took along was a chocolate bar from my D-ration. Our mission was to land on the beach below Pointe du Hoc, climb to the top of the 100-foot-high cliffs by rope ladders fired from rocket launchers into the side of he cliff, and knock out six French 155 mm guns that were capable of reaching targets along Utah and Omaha beaches where the invasion would soon take place. We had about one hour to land, secure the cliff and set up a defense before the actual invasion began.

"Three of the companies (mine was F Company) (the other two being D and E Companies) were assigned to go in first. If we were successful in taking the cliffs and establishing a position in the prescribed time, the other three companies (A,B,C Companies) would follow up as support. Well, first of all, we were headed toward Pointe de la Percee on the wrong course, and, consequently, lost our element of surprise. The Germans saw what we were up to and lobbed shells at us as we headed west to Pointe du Hoc. When we finally landed, after two hours in the water, the fire was heavy. Our BAR man was the first one our of the boat and was hit by machine gun fire immediately. Most of us hustled out of the boats and managed to find some protection at the base of the cliff. Each boat had six rope ladders to fire into the rocky side of the hill. Out of half a dozen we got only one secured at the top of the cliff.

I remember that ,our hands were numb from the icy sea water and the wet rope was tough to climb. Luckily for us, two men made it up on another side of the cliff and held off the Germans while the rest of us scrambled to the top. The enemy didn't make it easy though, they cut down some of the ladders, tossed grenades over the cliff and machine gunned the troops as they scaled the rocky hillside. The heavy shelling from the U.S. Navy boats had done a good job of reducing their firepower before we landed, and the shell holes on top of Pointe du Hoc reminded me of moon craters, they were so big. We jumped into these holes for cover once we got to the top. I guess it took us 15 to 30 minutes to get to the top, but by the end of the day, only about 90 out of 225 Rangers were still able to fight. In addition, our late start meant that we had lost our support; A, B, and C Companies and the 5th Ranger took off for the beaches in other directions, so we were all alone up there. After the hour of battle it became a mere matter of survival.

"It was difficult to know where our lines were, there was no telling if the enemy was behind you, in front of you or on either side of you. There was no established defense perimeter or even a command post at first. What was most disheartening was that the Germans had moved the big guns to another position further inland because of the heavy bombardment from the sea and from the air. As other Ranger units advanced about a mile inland, however , the guns were found in a concealed area and destroyed, so our mission was accomplished after all. Without replacements, we held fast a Pointe du Hoc for three days until the overall Allied advance from Utah and Omaha expanded to meet our own lines."

Carl E. Bombardier receive the silver star for bravery after battle in the Huertgen Forest.Carl Bombardier joined the army with his hometown friend Charlie Bellows as volunteers in 1942. They later joined the 2nd Ranger together in 1943. Charlie Bellows reached the top of the cliffs with members of his unit E Company and was reported to be involved in action against one of the fortified gun positions. Pfc Bellows was later killed at Pointe du Hoc. Bellows Circle off Plymouth Street, Abington bears his name.

Sergeant Leon H. Otto was also killed at Pointe du Hoc, my father's squad leader, for whom I was named.

Carl E. Bombardier finished the war in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia -the only member of his platoon to do so. The father of 9 children, he died of a heart attack in Abington, Massachusetts on July 2, 1976.

This story is published with the permission of Carl Edward Bombardier's Son : Leon A. Bombardier.