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SWORD beach

Monday 5 February 2001

The stretch of beach between Riva Bella and Lion sur mer was given the name of Sword. The objective of this force was to capture Caen and the west bank of the Orne. This turned out to be a very optimistic objective.
Pocket submarines had been in place since midnight on the 4th. They were to mark the limits of the British zone by shining lights out to sea. As the invasion was put back 24 hrs, they spent 64 hours on the sea bed.
The landings at 7:30 were concentrated on the centre of the beach where the resistance was least. On the whole the beach landing was quite easy. Nevertheless the first wave near Riva Bella lost 200 men in minutes. Further west some soldiers said the landing was like a training exercise only easier.
It is said that some German officers had their suitcases packed and were waiting for the first boat out of France.
The beaches were still a dangerous place to hang around on. There were Batteries on the far side of the Orne that were still firing and some field guns on the Heights of Perriers a mile or so inland.
The commando units that were sent to clean up resistance along the beach ran into trouble. The 41st was held up at Lion sur mer till the next day. A French commando moved through Riva bella and Ouistreham without much resistance but the casino had been turned into a fortress. The commando leader asked two centaure tanks to help out. It wasn’t till midday that the guns in the casino were silenced
A small bay was heard to remark " These English have thought of everything. They even brought people that speak French as well as us."
Due to the battery on the hights of Perrier and German counter attacks from the south , the size of the bridgehead gained was limited.
It wasn’t till the 9th of July that the allies moved into the outskirts of Caen, and only finally took it on the 19th July after after bombing it into a pile of rubble.

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