Visit Bayeux British cemetary, Arromanches and the Hillman bunkers in a 4:45 Hour tour
This tour retraces the main assaults undertaken by the British forces during the first few days of the Battle of Normandy on the eastern side of the Operation Overlord.
In addition to the landing in Ouistreham on Sword Beach you will also visit the famous site of Pegasus Bridge captured just after midnight on D-Day by elements of the 6th Airborne Division and the Hillman Bunker complex located near Colleville-Montgomery the town named after the British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in his honour.
You will also honor some of those who lost their lives in Normandy visiting one of the too numerous Commonwealth Cemeteries. The tour will be completed by the visit of the Museum of the Battery of Merville true reconstitution of the German gun Battery which was neutralized by the men of Lieutenant Colonel Otway.
The men of the 6th British Airborne Division under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Otway were tasked with the capture and destruction of the guns strategically situated to fire on the landings taking place three miles further west on Sword Beach. Unfortunately the British paratrooper drops were very scattered resulting in only 25% of Lt. Col. Otway’s men assembling before the attack. These men were missing equipment ammunition and lacked communications. Also despite the reinforcements that were meant to arrive during the attack not turning up this small group of determined British soldiers managed to succeed in their D-Day mission and this gun battery today remains as a museum to the testament of the courage of these men.
Starting at half past seven in the morning the first of 28 000 soldiers to come ashore on this beach landed to start the liberation of Western Europe. With them were the 177 Free French soldiers serving under Commandant Philippe Kieffer. They were the only French soldiers to be involved in the assaults on D-Day. One of the first tasks allotted to the forces here was the destruction of a German artillery battery composed of five 155mm cannon and other associated German defences near the beach as well as the famous Casino which had been heavily fortified and to capture what is now called by the locals “Le Grand Bunker” a massive German fortification over 5 storeys high. After having achieved this the 3rd British Infantry Division was to push rapidly inland to surround the town of Caen from the east. Although the British forces had attained nearly all of their D-Day objectives by nightfall they had failed in their most important task which was the encirclement and capture of Caen in conjunction with the Canadians forces landed on Juno.
The capture of Pegasus Bridge and its sister bridge nearby by elements of the 6th Airborne Division was the most complete and successful operation carried out on D-Day. It was vital for these bridges to be captured intact in order to deny the Germans a crossing point over the Orne river and canal which together run parallel to the sea from Caen. This kept this important artery open to the British to ensure the successful securing of the eastern flank of the Allied landings in Normandy. The inhabitants of Bénouville the village that sits beside the bridge were the first French civilians to be liberated on the morning of the 6th of June. Just after midnight the gliders under the command of Major John Howard landed less than fifty yards from their targets allowing the men contained in them to take possession of the bridges with a minimum of casualties and destruction. The paratroopers held their position despite numerous enemy counter-attacks until they were joined by British troops advancing south from Sword Beach just after midday on D-Day.
Found a couple of miles inland from Sword Beach the fortifications that made up the Hillman complex are just outside the village of Colleville-Montgomery known prior to 1944 as Colleville-sur-Orne. On the 7th of June the Germans here finally gave up to the 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. The different bunkers used as a German command post are now cared for by the Association of the Friends of the Suffolk Regiment.
The Commonwealth Military Cemeteries are sadly present in numerous villages and towns in Normandy. They can be different in the size but the emotion stays the same each grave has flowers sometimes photographs and letters are laid down by relatives. You will also read the touching epitaphs chosen by parents brothers and sisters or children.
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