More about Normandy Landing Beaches
On 6th June 1944, the Allied Forces made significant progress in
'Operation Neptune', the procedure to liberate Vichy France from
German occupation. Now known as D-Day, the operation was
successful, and marked a major turning point in the Second World
War. There are a number of sites involved in the landings that can
still be seen today.
A large battery was built here by the Germans in 1943-4, as part
of their Atlantic Wall fortifications. On the evening of 5th June
1944, the battery was heavily bombed by Allied Forces. This carried
on throughout the following day, making it the scene of one of the
longest conflicts of the operation. The 184-strong crew in the
battery finally surrendered in the evening of the 6th June. The
remains of the battery are still intact.
It was here that one of the artificial harbours assembled in
England was sited. After being towed across the Channel, the
harbour was able to provide the port facilities necessary for the
Allied Forces to offload thousands of men and vehicles without
coming under immediate attack. The evocative remains of this
significant structure can still be seen from the shore today.
Gold, Juno and Sword beaches
Even today, the stretches of coastline where the Allied forces
landed and launched their offensive are still referred to by their
code names. The shore was divided into sections, and troops were
assigned to different parts - with the aim that each section would
be secured, before the troops from each section linked up and
advanced further forward. For the most part these were successful;
the only one that saw a true conflict with the Germans was Sword
beach, and this was eventually overcome.
Ranville was the first village to be liberated in the D-Day
landings, after the bridge over the Caen Canal was captured. Due to
its significance in the operation, Ranville was chosen as a fitting
final resting place for some of the heroic men who gave their
lives. There are more than 2,200 Allied graves here, and about 330
graves of German soldiers.
Originally known as Bénouville bridge after its neighbouring
village, this was one of the most significant early targets for the
Allies. Its capture resulted in the liberation of the first French
house in the early morning of 6th June. In honour of the operation,
the bridge was renamed Pegasus Bridge by the Allied forces - after
the flying horse on the British Airborne forces' emblem.
The bridge was replaced by a newer model in 1994, but the
original was removed and preserved in the nearby museum, so that
its story would be preserved for future generations.