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