Sword Beach

The Germans had built several coastal batteries at Merville, Riva Bella, Ouistreham and Colleville, all of which were housing several guns and had quite large concentrations of troops. Of all these installations, the Allies thought that the battery at Merville housed the biggest guns. A group of paratroopers led by Lieutenant Colonel Ottway landed near the battery, unfortunately, only 150 of his 500 troops and none of his equipment arrived. After a fierce hand fight he silenced the battery. The guns were in fact only captured smaller French cannons. A few hours later at day break the beach invasion started, units of the 8th brigade and the 3rd British Infantry came ashore. During the previous night waves of Allied bombers had blasted all the coastal defenses and this was taken up by the Navy at day break. The attack was led by the DD tanks and the flying dustbins that quickly breached the beach defenses. The British moved quickly inland and the village of Hermanville was liberated by 10:00 by the South Lancashire Regiment. Colleville was liberated by the Suffolk Regiment and Ouistreham, now a ferry port, was liberated by the East Yorkshire Regiment. The Free French landed here together with the Royal Marine Commandos and they attacked the casino at Riva Bella. The French were led by Commander Kieffer. The object of many of the troops landing here was to take Caen but this would not be achieved for several weeks. The German operation post in Ouistreham was built among the villas in the town and is now a museum of the Atlantic Wall.

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