Sword Beach

I rather missed the landing craft with these, I mucked about setting up the post last week in anticipation of the 70th Anniversary and then ran out of time to do it. But here they are in the second wave, lost behind the Tsunami of other Ghosts of D-Day that suddenly appeared over the last three days.

This first one is La Breche, slightly to the East of our destination at Lion Sur Mer, actually part of Hermanville Sur Mer sort of. The whole area is a very long almost continuous settlement from Ouistreham to Luc Sur Mer. La Breche means The Breach which is what it is.

Sword Beach Dday ghost 4 © Nick Stone

This also forms part of Sword Beach, the wholly British sector of the D-Day landings on the 6th of June 1944. This rather nice little open square now
features a stage with bands on, the lifeguards, and several memorials including one to the Liverpools, the Allies and locals together and one to the Norwegian seaman. On examination it also appears to be the subject of quite a few photos by Sgt Jim Mapham, a prolific photographer of No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit it appears, who was terrifically active throughout the war, but particularly in this area and during the lead up to and the events after D-Day at Sword Beach.

A collection of his work is available to view via the Imperial War Museum website, who hold the original of this image. It shows a AVRE Churchill tank, and high sided Bren carriers pretty fresh off the beach I’d assume, which is only maybe 50ft to the left of the photo.

I didn’t do many of these, because it was a HOLIDAY, whatever that is,  and therefore I had to sit about and not do things on the beach in the sun, thanks in part to these chaps and their fight against fascism.

Dday ghost 3 © Nick Stone

Again La Breche,Taken I think from the back of a Bren Carrier heading along past the old post office to Lion Sur Mer about a mile away.

The bar on the right wasn’t there and the junction layout has been changed to prevent speeding/time travel etc, but it’s basically little changed. The block of flats has obtained a rather better roof since 1944.

Original photo Sgt J Mapham of No 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit. It occurred to me that he may have taken a few photos of this junction, he had, this is the same junction as the other photo, the building in the other one is hidden behind the Yew Tree.

Dday ghost 1 © Nick Stone

Troops moving inland towards Hermanville Centre Ville. Or Herman Town Centre Town I suppose in Anglais. Another one by Jim from the IWM.

Dday ghost 2 © Nick Stone

I could only really guess as to the exact location of this photo, Queen white beach was in the middle of Sword, somewhere between La Breche and Lion sur Mer, so I did the obvious thing and went to near the middle where the slope leads down to the beach which is quite near the 41st Commando memorial and did it there, but it fits here with the sequence of the photos by Mapham, so I think it’s probably about right. This one makes me go very tingly indeed. I have also since found an article identifying the men, which I’ll add a bit later.

And of course oblivious sunbathers in July 2012. I read recently that the landing beach sand has a ridiculously high metal content due to the amount of shell splinters still in the sea. Horrible.

Original: Imperial War Museum. Jim Mapham.

More on Jim Mapham here

A collection of his war photography work is available to view via the Imperial War Museum website, who hold the original of this image.

Original photos: Imperial Museum. Used under their fair use policy/non commercial.