Sword Beach

Sword Beach

Sword Beach

Sword Beach, was the code name given to one of the five main landing areas along the Normandy coast during the initial D-Day assault phase. Stretching 8 km from Ouistreham to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, the beach was the eastern most landing site of the invasion. Sword was divided into several sectors, and each sector divided into beaches; thus the British 3rd Infantry Division, assigned to land on Sword, assaulted a two mile (3 km) stretch of Sword codenamed Queen Sector - Queen Red, White and Green beaches.

Units of the British 2nd Army led by Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey were assigned the beach. Troops from the British 1st Corps led by Crocker continued the beach assault. The landing was concentrated in the Queen sector of the beach Hermanville-sur-Mer. The key objective was to take the key town of Caen and the nearby Carpiquet Aerodrome to the west. Landings began at 07:25 am when the 3rd Division landed in Peter and Queen. Attached commando units 1st Special Service Brigade and part of 4th Special Service Brigade were tasked with seizing the bridges on the River Orne and the Caen Canal, linking up with paratroops of the 6th Airborne Division who were holding the bridges and had earlier destroyed the batteries at Merville.

Resistance on the beach was weak. By 08:00, the fighting had been pushed inland and on the east flank the Commando units had reached the Orne, linking up with British paratroopers who had landed by the Orne waterways inland from Ouistreham, by 13:00. The British could not link up with the Canadian forces to the west until much later in the day. The only significant German counter-attacks on D-Day came into this area, starting around 16:00. In two attacks the 21st Panzer Division pushed all the way from near Caen to the beach between Lion-sur-Mer and Luc-sur-Mer and were only fully neutralised by late evening. By the end of 6 June, the 716th Infantry Division had been almost entirely destroyed, many having fought to the death.

The day ended after 28,845 men, of I Corps, having come ashore across Sword Beach. The British campaign historian, L.F. Ellis notes that "in spite of the Atlantic Wall over 156,000 men had been landed in France on the first day of the campaign." British losses, in the Sword beach area, amounted to around 683 men.


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