SWORD BEACH : UK AND FRENCH SECTORS – HALF DAY TOUR
Réf : Tour 4A
Program : Hermanville or Ranville Cemetery – Pégasus Bridge – Café Gondré – Sword Beach with stop at the Grand Bunker – Memorial Pégasus Museum in general or the Merville Battery/the Grand Bunker/the Hillman Battery/Museum N ° 4 Commando depending on the yearly schedule.
Pick-up/Drop-off places : Caen at the foot of the castle in front of St Peter’s church near the tourist information center.
Other picking places : Caen train & bus stations/Bayeux/Courseulles-sur-Mer/Bernières-sur-Mer/Saint Aubin/Ouistreham/Port-en-Bessin : contact us for schedules & conditions.
Daily departure : noon – Return 5:30 pm all over the year. In some periods, some other departures available early in the morning.
Rates : 80€ (75 € <18 years) – free for children under 3.
MEMORIAL PEGASUS MUSEUM OR ANOTHER MUSEUM LISTED IN THE PROGRAM included & access to all sites & monuments.
Process of booking : a confirmation will be sent to you with all details. No deposit required. Payment made the day of your tour directly to your guide by cash or by credit card for payment over 130€ (amex/visa/mastercard).
Tips : Take good walking shoes and comfortable clothes. We supply umbrellas and bottles of water in the vehicles. For a departure at noon, take a snack. There is no real lunch break. We have car seats adapted to the different ages of the children. In general, the circuits are not suitable for children under 10 years.
This tour lasts 5h30. This is the only of the five landing beaches where French commandos landed with the the British troops. Small group tour led by a certified and experimented guide in a spacious & comfortable minivan for more conviviality (maximum of 8 participants) or in a Sedan or SUV suitable from 2 until 5 people. Refreshment on board free.
HERMANVILLE WAR CEMETERY OR THE RANVILLE CEMETERY
• Hermanville War Cemetery
The village of Hermanville lay behind Sword beach and was occupied early on 6 June by men of the South Lancashire regiment. Later the same day, the Shropshire Light Infantry supported by the armour of the Staffordshire Yeomanry managed to reach and hold Bieville-Benville, four kilometres to the south of Hermanville. Many of those buried in Hermanville War Cemetery died on 6 June or during the first days of the drive towards Caen. The cemetery contains 1,003 Second World War burials, 103 of them unidentified.
• Ranville War Cemetery
Ranville was the first village to be liberated in France when the bridge over the Caen Canal was captured intact in the early hours of D-Day by troops of the 6th Airborne Division. Many of the division’s casualties are buried in Ranville War Cemetery and the adjoining churchyard. The Cemetery contains 2,235 Commonwealth burials, including 97 graves of unidentified casualties. Ranville War Cemetery also contains the grave of Lieutenant Den Brotheridge, most likely the first Allied casualty on D-Day.
The capture of the River Orne bridge at Ranville and the bridge across the Caen Canal at Bénouville is the most famous mission of the airborne division. In less than ten minutes both bridges had been captured intact. The sea borne reinforcements commanded by Brigadier Lord Lovat, preceded by his bagpiper Bill Millin, were able to cross the waterways to reinforce 6th Airborne Division on the eastern flank. Among these Green Berets, 177 French Commandos commanded by Philip Kieffer. On June 26th 1944, the Caen Canal bridge was baptised Pegasus Bridge as a tribute to the British troops. Pegasus, the winged horse, was the emblem worn on the sleeves of the men of the airborne division. In 1961 the bridge acquired celebrity status due to the D-Day film, produced by Darryl Zanuck, The Longest Day.
The Café Gondrée is a café located 20 m from the Pegasus Bridge and is considered as the first house to have been liberated in France. Arlette Gondrée, still the owner of that Café had 4 years old when the operation Dead and Stick happened.
Sword Beach was one of five beaches in the Normandy landings on June 6 1944 during the Second World War. This beach was assigned to the Second British Army. It is the only of the five landing beaches where landed French commandos. It was at Sword Beach (Ouistreham city) that the 70th anniversary of D-Day has been celebrated.
THE GRAND BUNKER
Just only 5 minutes away from Pegasus Bridge, there is a six-storey Grand Bunker observation post that sheltered the former German Army HQ controlling the batteries guarding the Orne Estuary. Built from 5,000 tonnes of steel and concrete, this massive 17 m tower has been restored so that it looks exactly as it did on the morning of June 6, 1944. Inside the rooms on each of its six storeys have been entirely refurbished and returned to their original functions, including an engine room, pharmacy, map room, radio room, switchboard, model room and observation post with a powerful telemeter. Genuine PA3031 landing craft on display that featured in Steven Spielberg’s 5 Oscar- winning film, Saving Private Ryan.
THE PEGASUS MEMORIAL
The Memorial Pegasus Bridge is dedicated to the soldiers of the British 6th airborne division who were the first liberators to set food on French soil in Normandy during the night of June 5-6th 1944. the museum provides insight into the various missions that the division undertook, including the most spectacular one – the capture of the Bénouville bridge by Major Howard and his men who arrived on three gliders. The museum exhibit includes hundreds of objects and photos, historic and touching souvenirs of the liberation of the region. In the 12,000 m² park surrounding the museum, explore the Pegasus bridge which became famous thanks to the film ‘the Longest Day’, a Bailey bridge and a life-size replica of a Horsa glider.
THE HILLMAN BATTERY
Located on the southern exit of the town on the road to Biéville-Beuville, this 24 hectare site, comprised of 18 casemates and underground fortifications built by the Germans between 1942 and 1944, was the command post of the German defences along the Côte de Nacre coast. Memorial to the 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, which liberated the site on the 6th of June 1944. Only open in July and August, every day except Tuesday and Sunday.
MUSEUM N°4 COMMANDO
This museum retraces the epic tale of the first commandos to land on Sword Beach on the morning of the 6th of June 1944. Amongst them was Philippe Kieffer’s French contingent. Arms, uniforms, military equipment, photos, maps, a video of 28 min. and a 3.80 x 1.10m model illustrate the historic events.