The village of Ranville was an objective of 6th (Airborne) Division on 6th June 1944, and was captured by units of this formation on the morning of D Day.
The churchyard was used for immediate burials, and some soldiers from 6th (Airborne) were laid to rest at this location as the fighting for the Eastern Flank continued. After the Second World War the site was chosen to regroup burials from this part of the battlefield, and graves were brought in from a number of areas, including: Amfreville, Colleville-sur-Orne, Houlgate, Colombelles and Villers-sur-Mer. The cemetery was finally closed in 1946. A very high proportion of the dead here are men from 6th (Airborne) Division.
TOUR # 4: BRITISH/CANADIAN SECTORS TOUR FDT
RDV time and place are 8.20am Place de Québec, in the center of Bayeux. Therefore you can only join this tour if you are spending the night before in Bayeux or vicinity.
This tour will take you to the area seized by the 6th Airborne Division on the morning of D-Day. You will then visit the three Commonwealth beaches of Sword, Juno and Gold, following the British 3rd Infantry Division, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, and the British 50th Infantry Division and their associated units. You will also see the famous Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches.
MORNING: Ranville – Pegasus Bridge - Sword Beach, Ouistreham Grand Bunker – Ouistreham casino - Commandos Memorial - Brèche de Colleville, Landing spot of the 1st Special Brigade - Hermanville-sur-Mer - 21st Panzer conter-attack gap - Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, Nan Red - Bernières-sur-Mer, Nan White.
AFTERNOON: Courseulles-sur-Mer, Nan Green - Mike Sector – Ver-sur-mer Gold Beach – Crépon, Green Howards Monument – Mont Fleury Artillery Battery - Asnelles-sur-Mer – Arromanches Mulberry artificial Harbor.
Pegasus Bridge is a bascule bridge (a type of movable bridge), built in 1934, that crossed the Caen Canal between Caen and Ouistreham.
Also known as the Bénouville Bridge after the neighbouring village, it was, with the nearby Ranville Bridge, a major objective of Operation Tonga in the opening minutes of the invasion of Normandy.
A gliderborne unit of the British 6th Airborne Division, commanded by Major John Howard was to land, take the bridges intact and hold them until relieved.
The successful taking of the bridges played an important role in limiting the effectiveness of a German counter-attack in the days and weeks following the invasion. In 1944 it was renamed Pegasus Bridge in honour of the operation. The name is derived from the shoulder emblem worn by the British airborne forces, which is the flying horse Pegasus.
In 1944 it was renamed Pegasus Bridge in honour of the operation.
FREE FRENCH MONUMENT - KIEFFER MONUMENT
Monument symbolizing the sacrifice of the Free French combatants on 6 June 1944.
Several steles are dedicated to the French Commandos who died in the fighting and a small monument is dedicated to Commander Kieffer.
The area code-named Sword Beach occupied an 8-km (5-miles) stretch of the French coastline from Lion-sur-Mer on the west to the city of Ouistreham, at the mouth of the Orne River, on the east.
In many ways Sword Beach was the key to success in the Normandy landings. It was the nearest beach to Caen , the capital of the area and the prize that would need to be taken to allow a breakout. The plan was to land the 3rd Infantry Division ("Monty’s Ironsides"), who would then link up with 6th Airborne Division on the Eastern Flank. The 3rd Division would be assisted in the landings by Lord Lovat’s 1st Special Service Brigade, which also included French commandos. Their opposition would be units from the German 716th Division, with 21st Panzer Division located in the Caen area – a possible major threat if tanks arrived to block the invasion.
CASINO OF OUISTREHAM AND FRENCH FUSILIERS MARINS COMMANDOS’ STORY
The 177 Frenchmen of the 1st Batallion of Fusiliers Marins Commandos landed there on 6 June 1944. The French under Commandant Kieffer were integrated to the N°4 British Commando.They were granted the honour to set foot on Normandy soil in the first wave. The Commandos left about fourty casualties on the beach and moved inland. Commandant Kieffer was wounded but went on with his troops. Troop 1 suffered losses in front of the casino strongpoint. They obtained support of a tank of the 13/18th Hussars of the 27th Armoured Brigade. The German blockhouse was neutralized Ouistreham was liberated at the end of the morning.
Lunch is not included in our fee.
1ST SPECIAL BRIGADE TO COLLEVILLE
From 08:30 hours the second wave of assault units landed, being commando's of the 1st Special Service Brigade under the command of Lord Lovat.
First to land were No. 4 Commando and 177 Free French Marines of No.10 (Inter Allied) Commando, led by Commandant Philippe Kieffer, both units tasked with heading east and capturing strong points in Ouistreham. In addition, 41 Royal Marines Commando headed west to Lion-sur-Mer to link up with the Candians from JUNO. Thirsty minutes later the rest of Brigadier Lord Lovat's brigade landed and lead by Piper Bill Millin playing "Road to the Isles" headed east with the objective of linking up with the 6th Airborne at Benouville (Pegasus Bridge).
HERMANVILLE-SUR-MER, QUEEN SECTOR
Sword Beach was the codename for a landing area for the Allied invaders on the coast of Normandy during D-Day on June 6, 1944.
The area was assigned to the British Second Army. Stretching 8 km from Ouistreham to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer it was the furthest east of the landing points and around 15 km from Caen. The landing site was divided into four zones - Oboe, Peter, Queen and Roger (west-east). The landing was concentrated in Queen Sector to the east of Lion-sur-Mer. The key objective was to quickly reach and capture the key town of Caen and the nearby Carpiquet aerodrome to the west. Landings began at 0725 when the 3rd Division landed in Peter and Queen...
21ST PANZER DIVISION COUNTER-ATTACK
On 6 June 1944, 21st Panzer-Division was the first German armored formation to be launched in a counter-attack against the Allied landings in Normandy.
After getting as far as the coast, the division was forced back. However its action on D-Day held up British troops' attempts to capture the city of Caen for a whole month. It was almost wiped out in the British offensive west of Caen on 18 July 1944, but fought on in the hedgerows before retiring eastwards across France.
SAINT-AUBIN-SUR-MER, NAN RED
Juno Beach was the code name of one of the five main landing sites of the Allied invasion of the coast of Normandy on D-Day during World War II. It was situated between Sword Beach and Gold Beach. It is also known as the Canadian beach, as it was assigned to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Juno Beach stretched from Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer on the east to Courseulles-sur-Mer on the west.
Nan Sector. Two assault companies of The Queen's Own Rifles were to land and take Bernières, a small beachfront resort town. Two companies of The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment was assigned to capture St-Aubin, another resort town. DD tanks of the Fort Garry Horse was to support both groups, with Le Régiment de la Chaudière from Quebec in reserve.
Nan Red Sector is where we will give you information about the German defences near a bunker in which a 50 mm caliber canon still guards the access of the village. This is where the North Shore Regiment and Duplex Drive tanks of the Fort Garry Horse landed
On Nan White, Bernières-sur-Mer, we will stop at the Cassine Bunker for more explanation and sites of interest like pillboxes, the seawall, the House of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, the rue du Régiment de la Chaudière and the House of the British and Canadian reporters.
This sector saw the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada losing more than 100 men within few minutes. Tank crews of the Fort Garry Horse suffered losses too.
COURSEULLES-SUR-MER, NAN GREEN
Courseulles-sur-Mer, Nan Green, is the spot where a DD tank lays as a tribute to Canadian tanks units which landed on D-Day.
This Sherman tank spent some 27 years in the salted water as it sunk on D-Day and was recovered by the REME in 1971. Here the Regina Rifles Regiment and tanks of the first Hussars landed.
The next stop is near Cosy’s bunker which saw a fierce fighting and high Canadian and British casualties on D-Day.
The Royal Winnipeg Rifles and the Canadian Scottish Regiment landed on Mike, suffering, high losses. Next to it, stands an AVRE Churchill tank used as a monument to pay tribute to the men of the 79th British Armored Division which supported the Canadian on the 6th of June.
VER-SUR-MER, GOLD BEACH,
ADMIRAL RAMSEY'S HEADQUARTERS
Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay was responsible for Operation "Neptune", the naval contribution to the invasion of Normandy, and the greatest amphibious operation in history.
Ramsay initially established his headquarters in Arromanches but then moved them to a house in Ver-sur-Mer.
GREEN HOWARDS MONUMENT
The Green Howards came ashore D-day on Gold beach being part of the 50th division. Their task was to cut the Bayeux to Caen road, secure the Arromanches port and to take the battery of Longues sur Mer from the rear.
The division had to link up with the Americans from Omaha Beach to the west at Port-en-Bessin, and link up with the Canadians from Juno Beach to the east. With B and C Companies leading the advance to Crepon (A and D behind them) the Green Howards came under heavy fire from the village. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Hastings, ordered B and C Companies to push on towards Villiers-le-Sec while A Company was kept in reserve. D Company was to clear a route through Crepon without getting bogged down by pockets of German resistance.
MONT FLEURY BATTERY
Not far from Ver-sur-Mer, the battery of Mont-Fleury, comprising four Russian 122-mm guns, was still under construction in June 1944.
Its casemates, which had not yet been completed, were being built according to new time-saving methods which consisted of erecting parallel walls of breezeblocks in order to obviate the need for wooden formwork. Iron rods were then placed between the walls and the space was filled in with concrete… The 50th Infantry Division Northumbrian suffered a lot of casualties in this sector.
(ROAD UNDER CONSTRUCTION ON D-DAY)
The beach was to be assaulted by the 50th Division between Le Hamel and Ver-sur-Mer. Attached to them were elements of 79th (Armoured) Division.
The 231st Infantry Brigade would come ashore on Jig Sector at Le Hamel/Asnelles and the 69th Brigade at King Sector in front of Ver sur Mer. Number 47 (Royal Marine) Commando, attached to the 50th Division for the landing, was assigned to Item sector.
ARROMANCHES AND MUSEUM
By 9 June, just 3 days after D-Day, two harbours codenamed Mulberry "A" and "B" were constructed at Omaha Beach and Arromanches, respectively. However, a large storm on 19 June destroyed the American harbour at Omaha, leaving only the British harbour which came to be known as Port Winston at Arromanches.
While the harbour at Omaha was destroyed sooner than expected (due to it not being securely anchored to the sea bed), Port Winston saw heavy use for 8 months—despite being designed to last only 3 months. In the 10 months after D-Day, it was used to land over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tonnes of supplies providing much needed reinforcements in France.