Merville-Franceville-Plage

×HISTORICAL FACTS

The Merville Battery Assault
Constructed inland to the south of the village of Merville, the battery consisted of four concrete bunkers housing 150 mm guns and with a garrison of 150 men.
The battery posed a major threat to the landings on Sword Beach. The assault was planned for the night preceding D-Day and was to be carried out by Lieutenant Colonel Otway’s 9th Parachute Battalion. Otway’s situation was dire, at 0100 hours, he was only able to assemble 150 men at Varaville, and they were short of arms (one machine gun and several Bangalore torpedoes), out of an effective of 550 parachutists, many had become lost following the drop. The three gliders which should have landed within the battery’s perimeter failed to do so, two of them flew over the battery alerting the German defenses. Despite these setbacks, Otway carried out the assault at 0430 hours by leading his men, in four groups, towards the four casemates. The assault was brief but ferocious; Otway lost half his men in capturing the guns which were of a smaller calibre (100mm and not the 150 mm as expected). Colonel Otway and his men had to evacuate the battery at 0500 hours before the naval barrage commenced from HMS Arethusa positioned off the coast. Despite the heavy losses and the little risk the battery posed to the landings on Sword Beach, the assault on the Merville Battery was one of the major feats of arms of D-Day.

The Commandos Assault Bréville and Merville
The troops of N°3 Commando (1st Special Service Brigade) advanced along the Salenelles/Ranville road and occupied the area to the south-west of Amfreville in order to prevent any infiltration by the enemy. At Merville, the force attempted to complete the previous day’s mission by Colonel Otway’s 9th Parachute Battalion before being repulsed by a combat group of 736th German Grenadier Regiment which seized the battery. While N° 4 Commando and the troops of the Commando Kieffer consolidated their position on the heights at Amfreville, N° 6 Commando (1st Special Service Brigade) distinguished itself in the only offensive action of the day: destroying four artillery guns and two anti-aircraft guns near the village of Bréville-les-Monts without actually taking the village which was heavily defended by the Germans. Bréville continued to form a salient menacing directly Ranville at the centre of the airborne sector.

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