Part III of the Beaches of Normandy Then and Now Series

Sword Beach

Page 2

The Fall of Caen

In the weeks after D-Day the Germans concentrated the great bulk of their armoured reserves on the defense of Caen, at one point rising to 8 panzer divisions and three battalions of formidable Tiger tanks. These were some of the best formations in the German army. It was up to the British and Canadians to grind down these forces, buying the Americans time to develop their front and destroy the much weaker German forces in front of their own positions.

The fighting lasted for weeks, and a succession of Anglo-Canadian offensives only made the most gradual gains against the experienced German defenders. In desperation the Allies bombed the medieval city of Caen into rubble before it finally fell on July 21.

British troops walk past Eglise Saint Pierre, which has been damaged by shellfire and bombing.

A view of the ruins of Caen after the fighting, taken from the ramparts of the Norman castle that overlook the city.

A French civilian gives directions to British officers in the Vaugeaux district, now an area of swanky restaurants and brasseries.

A British photographer flouts a German sign forbidding photography at Caen's small port.

A truck pulling a 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun moves along the Quai de Julliet in Caen. The Abbaye des Hommes can be seen in the background.

A photographer takes another photo of the ruins of the Hotel Moderne. Today the hotel has been rebuilt into a Best Western franchise.

British troops pick their way through the rubble of Caen along Rue Saint Pierre. In the background can be seen the partially ruined spire of Eglise Saint Pierre.

British Shermans in front of the Eglise Saint Pierre in Caen. The entire area has been redeveloped and this photo was only possible from the alley behind a main shopping thoroughfare.


Beaches of Normandy Then and Now Series



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