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Centaur IV Sword Beach

The tank is located on the Avenue Madame Coty.

Alhough this is a Centaur IV, the text on the plaque reads:
At 07.30 on 6th June 1944, 70 specially designed Churchill tanks equipped with faschines, flails, bangalore torpedoes and bridges landed form IO landing craft and cleard the beach obstacles into 200 m wide safe lane in orde that the advancing troops could land safely on the beach.

This Churchill Avre MK III now stands as a memorial to all those who served and died on these shores.

Hermanville: The British on Sword beach

Operation Overlord unfolded in the heart of "Sword" as elsewhere. In the course of the night, the coastal defences were bombed by the air force and the naval artillery took over at daybreak. Then, under German fire, the landing craft came aground. The special tanks opened the way, followed by assault waves of 3rd Infantry Division under Major-General Rennie.

The tanks attacked the concrete strong points then penetrated inland: the first battalion of the South Lancashires liberated the village of Hermanville at 10 a.m., whilst the Suffolk Regiment was freeing Colleville. The British advance was unable to reach Caen on the 6th as planned. The long ordeal of that city began the same day, at 11.30 a.m..

The Allies needed calm water to land men and equipment: the "Gooseberries" (codename) were old vessels that had been ballasted to a form a breakwater. Among 6 merchant ships and 3 warships sacrificed off Hermanville, the veteran battleship "Courbet" would not enjoy the glory of the "Georges-Leygues" and the "Montcalm", which fought conspicuously before the Longues battery, but scuttled itself, with its flag flying, on the morning of 7 June, in three fathoms of water about 1.5 miles offshore.

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  • Text: Ewoud van Eig & Erwin Flohr
  • Photos: Erwin Flohr