Sword Beach | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Sword Beach

Lion-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Sword Beach

Sword Beach (Ouistreham) in Normandy, France was one of the sites of the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, D-day.

Sword Beach history

Assigned to units of the British 3rd Division, the landings at Sword Beach were the most eastern part of Operation Overlord, the allied offensive which led to the liberation of German-occupied France and subsequently Europe in World War II.

Around midnight, British airborne troops, along with a battalion of Canadians, dropped behind enemy lines to secure the invasion’s eastern flank, just as the Americans were doing near Utah. Within minutes, they had taken hold of Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and nearby Horsa Bridge over the River Orne.

Other airborne troops destroyed bridges over the River Dives to prevent German reinforcements from arriving, and they also took out a key German artillery battery in a bloody firefight.

The British then landed on Sword at 7:25 a.m., around the same time troops landed at Gold Beach, but before Juno. Although moderate fire greeted them, they soon secured beach exits with the help of the “Funnies” (newly designed British tanks).

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.

Sword Beach today

Today, Sword Beach is a clean and popular expanse of golden sand with good facilities including toilets and showers. In summer, you can find people playing sports such as football and volleyball on the beach as well as a number of attractions for kids such as a minigolf course and go kart track.

There’s also plenty of places to enjoy an ice cream or a snack, as well as several restaurants nearby.

For those looking to discover more about its place in history during WW2, there are still remnants of the area’s historical past with memorials dedicated to the different British units and traces of gun turrets.

Getting to Sword Beach

Sword Beach’s address is 14880 Hermanville-sur-Mer. It is roughly a half-hour drive from Caen and is roughly 250km from Paris. From Paris, take the highway A13. Take the exit 29B towards Dozule, Cabourg, Dives, Houlgate with th roads D400 and D27.

At Varaville, take the D513 towards Le Mesnil, and still in the same direction, towards Benouville and Colleville-Montgomery to reach Hermanville-sur-Mer. There is free parking nearby.

Visitors from England can either take the Channel Tunnel to Calais and drive or take a ferry directly to Normandy.

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