Beach represents the third and the last of the british landing sectors.
The zone of Sword, 5 kilometers east of Juno Beach, is located between
the localities of Saint-Aubin and Ouistreham, and represents the
east allied side of the Normandy invasion.
forces are composed of the 8th brigade (belonging to the 3rd infantry
division), several commando units (numbers 4, 6, 8, 10, 41 and 45),
the 1st Brigade of the Special Services (which commands the number
4 commando of the Free France battalion). These allied forces belong
to the 1st Army corps, led by the british Lieutenant General John
The beach is divided into four sectors codenamed, from west to east:
“Oboe”, “Peter”, “Queen” and
of Sword are defended by the men of the 716th infantry division,
composed of 29 companies and armed with about 500 machineguns, 50
mortars and 90 various types guns.
planes and sailplanes on the way towards the objective: Sword.
is preceded, as on the other invasion beaches, by an air raid then
by a naval bombardment, two hours before the beginning of the landing,
which must start at 07:25 a.m.
On Sword Beach, as on Gold and Juno, frogmen are charged to open
several accesses to the beach, 20 minutes before H Hour, while removing
elements of the beach defenses, in order to facilitate the navigation
of the landing crafts.
the tanks, the first assault wave arrives.
In fact, the
special tanks (25 on the whole and called “funnies”)
are charged to land first, right before the infantry. In spite of
a difficult navigation because of a very strong swell, the boats
reach the beach on time. The German shootings are strong, and the
mortar shells explode near units, wounding or killing the attackers.
soldiers taking cover from german shootings on the beach.
When the infantry
starts landing, the tanks have destroyed some German strongpoints
already, but the British progress with difficulty between the shore
and the houses line directly in edge of the beach, both because
of the shootings and the beach defenses, very numerous on a small
space. The rising tide still reduces the surface of the beach which
is almost completely encumbered by various material, destroyed vehicles,
troops gathering, sheltered from the enemy shootings.
When Major (Lord)
Lovat lands, he is accompanied by the sound piper Bill Millin. During
the crossing of the beach, Lovat called Millin to play: “Let's
play Highland Laddie”. When the piper reaches the Norman soil,
he plays the bagpipe and the well known song. The melody arrives
even to the ears of German, according to Maurice Chauvet, belonging
to the 1st Battalion Fusiler Marin (Free French forces), witness
of the scene whereas he lands on Sword beac: “Abruptly, when
Millin started to play, the Germans stopped shooting during a few
seconds, they did not believe their eyes… and their ears!”
protect themselves behind the dune or the anti-tank wall bordering
the road, gather, cross the barbed wire lines while being fire
at by the Germans still defending some resistance points on the
beach. The Allies reach the interior of the grounds, supported
as close as possible by the amphibious tanks and the “funnies”.
infantry, supported by the amphibious tanks, frees the surrounding
troops must, after having controlled the various German strongpoints,
seize the surrounding villages before continuing towards the town
of Caen which must be captured the same day: at around 09:30 a.m.,
the british infantrymen of the 1st South Lancs enter Hermanville
and move to the german resistance pockets.
of vehicles and material destroyed on Sword Beach.
is only about midday that the beach is cleaned of its encumber and
that enough breaches are open allowing the reinforcements to go
on landing. The troops of the first attack accelerate towards the
interior: Ouistreham and its famous casino (which, it is to be said,
is nothing like the one in the “Longest Day” movie)
are captured during the morning, but a fort in the city still resists
the French and British attacks. The place will be captured only
three days later.
soldiers on the way towards the south of Normandy.
are disorganized and oppose in great majority only a very low resistance
to the landed forces. The french and british troops, which travel
towards the south, are slowed down by snipers which are camouflaged
in individual holes bordering the roads. Lord Lovat joined as forecast
the british airborne troops of the 6th division all around the Bénouville
and Ranville bridges (codenamed Pegasus bridge and Horsa Bridge)
which he reaches at midday. The 3rd british infantry division reports,
at the end of the day, the loss of nearly 630 men, killed or wounded
soldiers. 28.845 men and 2.603 vehicles belonging to this same division
are on-site on June 6 at midnight.
At the evening
of June 6, 1944, the British have, west of the Orne river, a beachhead
of nearly 8 kilometers long, to the village of Biéville-sur-Orne,
hardly located at 5 kilometers from Caen. East of the Orne river,
various points of resistance of the parachutists of the 6th airborne
division hang on, south of Franceville and the village of Varaville.
of reinforcements (men and vehicles) on Sword.
landed troops make their junction with the airborne division; they
cross the two bridges captured in the first hours of June 6 by the
men of Major John Howard and silence strongpoints, south of the
village of Ranville until the Western limits of the Bavent forest.
soldiers equipped with bicycles in order to move faster to their
junction with the landed canadian troops at Juno Beach is not carried
out yet by the commandos numbers 8 and 41 fighting in Lion-sur-Mer.
The realization of this junction is, with the capture of the town
of Caen, one of the major priorities for the british troops, in
order to protect the beachhead just installed to ensure the good
continuation of the allied invasion in Normandy.
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