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. The route that Lord Lovat’s Commandos took along this canal on June 6th 1944 was made into a footpath in 2009 and makes a nice cycle ride.
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’.
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.