D-Day Normandy:
Sword Beach

This section describes the Sword Beach and what there is to see today.


Commandos approach Sword Beach in a Landing Craft Infantry (LCI). Ahead, the beach is crowded with tanks and vehicles of 27th Armoured Brigade and 79th Armoured Division

 

The British 2nd Army: Sherman DD (Duplex Drive) tanks of 'B' Squadron, 13/18th Royal Hussars, and men of No 4 Army Commando advancing towards Ouistreham.

Images of the Bunker Museum at Ouistreham

You get a great view of Sword Beach from the ferry

Lord Lovat's Commandos followed the canal to Pegasus Bridge.


The most easterly of the invasion beaches, 'Sword Beach' spans from the mouth of the River Orne at Ouistreham to St Aubin sur Mer.

With H-hour set at 07:25, the objective of the 3rd Division, commanded by Major General T.G Rennie, who assaulted this beach was to advance towards and capture or mask the city of Caen several miles inland.

Caen, the largest city in Normandy, was not liberated by the allies until August, after extensive aerial bombardment and vicious fighting on the ground.

Commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade also had to relieve the airborne forces at Pegasus Bridge, lying along the Caen Canal.

I believe the route that Lord Lovat's Commandos took along this canal on June 6th 1944 is being made into a footpath, although this was not open during my last visit in 2007.

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What to see

Today Sword Beach is a popular tourist destination for beach goers as well as history enthusiasts. As such there is a good mix of things to see for yourself and any partner or kids that might not share your passion.

Ouistreham is home to the Musee No 4 Commando. A must-see is the Bunker Museum, if for no other reason than you can see for miles from the observation platform on its roof. Take a moment to look through the artillery rangefinder.

Douvres Radar Station: Lying just inland of St Aubin sur Mer on the D7. Strangely this opens on June 15th, rather than for the commemorative period of June 6th?

Merville Battery: Lies about a 20 minute drive to the east of Sword Beach.

Pegasus Bridge: Lies inland along the Orne Canal. Captured by British Glider troops. See also the Airborne museum and Cafe Gondree, itself almost a museum to the 'Paras'.

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Getting there

Sword Beach can be described as being the easiest of the Normandy beaches to visit for travellers from the UK as it begins at the ferry port and beach resort of Ouistreham.

Simply drive off of the ferry and join the D514, which will take you all along the Normandy beaches.

See the 'Getting about in Normandy section' for details of bus routes.

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Copyright notice

Photos Image MH2011 and B 5102 courtesy of the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum. These images cannot be copied from this site without prior permission from the IWM.