- Point of Interest
- 110 Place du Cuirassé Courbet, 14880 Hermanville-sur-Mer, France
Sword was the code-name for the easternmost of the five landing beaches in Normandy. Reinforced by commandos and supported by specially adapted tanks, the 3rd British Infantry Division landed here. The men were to gather up with the 6th Airborne Division and capture Caen. This last objective was finally achieved a month later on 9 July.
Sword was the code-name for the easternmost of the five landing beaches in Normandy. The stakes were high. The aim was to protect the left flank of the Allied bridgehead in Normandy, in liaison with the 6th Airborne Division which had landed between the Orne and Dives rivers. Jointly they were supposed to seize the strategically important city of Caen, fifteen kilometres from Sword beach.
The assault was led by the 3rd British Infantry Division, reinforced by the commandos of the 1st and 4th Special Service Brigades and supported by specially adapted tanks. The sector of Sword Beach stretched from Langrune to Ouistreham. Once landed, the commandos neutralized the German strongpoints by attacking them from both sides.
The landing on Sword Beach was largely successful. After clearing Ouistreham of hostile units, the 1st Special Service Brigade was able to join the paratroopers at Bénouville and settle on the east bank of the Orne. Nevertheless, the commandos who had to assure the connection with the Canadian troops landed on Juno Beach, couldn’t make it on the evening of 6 June. They were attacked by the 21st German Panzer Division. After the Germans lost 50 of their tanks, they abandoned their positions.
Congestion on the beaches and determined resistance by some German strongpoints further inland, prevented the British from capturing Caen on 6 June as they had hoped. Eventually more than a month of fighting was necessary to complete the liberation of the city on 9 July 1944.
There are several sites and items of interest In the Hermanville area. In Hermanville-Plage, a ‘Centaur’ tank which engaged in support of the Royal Marines Commandos stands near the intersection of the rue du Dr Turgis and Rue Amiral Wietzel. Near Hermanville-Bourg a British military cemetery with 1.005 graves is located. The German “Hillman” Strongpoint at Colleville-Montgomery is also interesting to visit.
Fought between the iconic landings on 6 June 1944 and the liberation of Paris on 25 August, the Battle of Normandy is often overlooked. Yet this campaign decided the course of the war in Northwestern Europe. The losses were huge: more than 100.000 people were killed during the 80 days, 20.000 of them civilians.
During the Second World War the Frenchman René Rossey volunteered for a military career, at first in the Free French Forces. In 1943, 17 years old, he joined the famous Kieffer Commando and participated in the Allied landing in Normandy. After the liberation of France his unit continued fighting the Germans and finally succeeded in the liberation of Holland.