Oct. 29, 2015

Sword, Juno and Gold Beaches

 Later on Wenesday we continued to Sword, Juno and Gold beaches, the British and Cnadian landing sites. The British landed on Sword at 7:25 a.m., around the same time as at Gold but before Juno. Although moderate fire greeted them, they soon secured beach exits. Moving inland, they connected with the airborne units but faced relatively strong resistance in farmyards and villages. In a late afternoon counterattack, German forces made it all the way to the beach in one location, only to be turned back. The Allies would not be able to unite all five D-Day beaches until June 12.  

At Juno, Allied landing craft once again struggled with rough seas, along with offshore shoals and enemy mines. Upon finally disembarking, Canadian soldiers were then cut down in droves by Germans firing from seaside houses and bunkers. The first hour was particularly brutal, with a casualty rate approaching 50 percent for the leading assault teams.  After fighting their way off the beach, however, German resistance slowed immensely, and the march into the interior went quickly. In fact, the Canadians advanced further inland than either their American or British counterparts.  Remarkably, at Juno today is a beach house that contained German gun emplacements, called the Canadian House which is a private residence (see picture in photo album)

British troops landed at Gold, the middle of the five D-Day beaches, nearly an hour after fighting got underway at Utah and Omaha. The Germans initially put up robust resistance, but unlike in sharp contrast to Omaha, an earlier aerial bombardment had wiped out much of their defenses. British warships also proved effective. The cruiser HMS Ajax, sent one shell through a small slot in a German artillery battery’s concrete exterior (still there on the beach see photo).  Again unlike the killing field at Omaha, Within an hour, the British had secured a few beach exits, and from there they rapidly pushed inland. They also captured the fishing village of Arromanches, which days later became the site of one of the two famous Mulberry artificial harbors used by the Allies to unload supplies.  Off of the beach today the remains of the huge concrete cassons sunk to make the harbor are just offshore