D-Day 1944 (Praeger Illustrated Military History Series): Sword Beach and the British Airborne Landings

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At 1600 hrs on June 6, 1944, a Horsa glider ground to a halt a mere 60 yards from the Orne Canal bridge at Benouville in Normandy. A small group of British paratroopers burst from it and stormed the bridge within minutes. The Allied liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe had begun. Within a few hours landing craft would swarm towards Ouistreham as British 3rd Division stormed ashore at Sword Beach. The battle would then begin to break through to relieve the paratroopers. Ken Ford details the assault by British 6th ...

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Overview

At 1600 hrs on June 6, 1944, a Horsa glider ground to a halt a mere 60 yards from the Orne Canal bridge at Benouville in Normandy. A small group of British paratroopers burst from it and stormed the bridge within minutes. The Allied liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe had begun. Within a few hours landing craft would swarm towards Ouistreham as British 3rd Division stormed ashore at Sword Beach. The battle would then begin to break through to relieve the paratroopers. Ken Ford details the assault by British 6th Airborne Division and the British landings on Sword Beach that secured the vital left flank of the invasion.

At 1600 hrs on June 6, 1944, a Horsa glider ground to a halt a mere 60 yards from the Orne Canal bridge at Benouville in Normandy. A small group of British paratroopers burst from it and stormed the bridge within minutes. The Allied liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe had begun. Within a few hours, landing craft would swarm towards Ouistreham as British 3rd Division stormed ashore at Sword Beach. The battle would then begin to break through to relieve the paratroopers. Ken Ford details the assault by British 6th Airborne Division and the British landings on Sword Beach that secured the vital left flank of the invasion.

On the eastern most flank of the Allied landings in Normandy was Sword Beach, the responsibility of British 3rd Division. Their objectives for D-Day were to seize Ouistreham and Lion-sur-Mer, and to drive inland taking Hermanville, Perriers Ridge, and in co-operation with the Canadians landing on Juno, capture their ultimate goal: the town of Caen. In addition, they were to link up with the British Airborne forces who were to secure the eastern flank of the beachhead. The leading waves landed at 7:30 a.m. and managed to get off the beach without heavy German resistance. By mid-morning, Hermanville had been captured but severe congestion on the beach was delaying those troops supposed to be exploiting the landing inland. This allowed the defending German forces, particularly the 21st Panzer Division, valuable time to react to the landings. Stiff German resistance and counter-attacks prevented Caen being taken on the first day and much blood would be shed before it finally fell. 1st Special Service Brigade landed in the Ouistreham area and moved inland to link up with the British Airborne forces. These had been assigned the tasks of securing the area west of the River Dives, destroying a number of bridges over the river and in particular capturing the bridges over the Orne River and the Caen-Ouistreham canal. First to land were the glider-borne infantry of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light infantry commanded by Major John Howard. They successfully seized the canal bridge at Benouville, which has been known since as Pegasus Bridge. The other landings were plagued by high winds with some paratroopers drowning in the river Dives, but five vital bridges were destroyed and in one of the most heroic actions of the landings the Merville battery was stormed and put out of action.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275982652
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2004
  • Series: Praeger Illustrated Military History Series
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 10.02 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

KEN FORD Ford has written a number of books on the Second World War. He trained as an engineer and now spends his time as an author and a bookseller specializing in books in military history.
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Table of Contents

Origins of the Battle 7
Chronology 10
Opposing Commanders 14
Opposing Armies 17
Opposing Plans 24
The Landings: The Airborne Assault 32
The Landings: Sword Beach 49
Holding and Expanding the Bridgehead 78
Aftermath 84
The Battlefield Today 89
Order of Battle 93
Bibliography 94
Index 95
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