Gold Beach

Gold-beachIt is the most westerly beach of the British-Canadian zone, from Asnelles to Ver-sur-mer. We shall note that the most western sector – as all the beaches, Gold was divided in sectors called with a letter of the alphabet, in this particular case H ( How), I (Item) J ( Jig) and K ( King) –  How, which is correlative to Arromanches, will not be used; in consequence the city, although directly in front of the sea, will be freed by land (by the 231th Brigade).

As on the other English-Canadian beaches, the assault begins there one hour after the American one, because of the tide. But, there also, the consequences of the bad weather are felt, with drift of boats or delay on arrival.

machine-gun-arromanchesIt is the XXXth British Corps (General Bucknall), consisted of 49th and 50th Infantry Divisions and of the 8th Armoured Brigade, that gets a foothold on beaches, without too many losses (413 deaths on 25 000 landed men), in spite of a German resistance in the East, in the hamlet of La Rivière, and a counterattack in the afternoon, finally pushed away. The contribution of Funnies, these curious tanks, shows itself determining : from 1943 had been constituted a special unit, the 79th Armoured Division, commanded by General Percy Hobart, pulled out of his retreat for the opportunity, charged to conceive and to realize systems able to get over the Atlantic Wall. So will appear the Crab, a tank equipped with a huge flail to destroy mines in front of him, tanks Churchill, equipped with  a flamethrower to clean bunkers, or a mortar to destroy the obstacles at close range, tanks Fascine, which put down metallic rods in ditches to fill them, tanks Bobine, which unroll a linen carpet on the beach to make easier the progress of vehicles. At Gold, these machines are going to clean the beach. However, in the evening of June 6th, the assigned objectives are not reached : the troops landed to Gold beach, with those of Juno, were supposed to free Bayeux during the same day: the junction was made well, but, at nightfall, the allied troops are still at two kilometers: the city will be freed only the next day, without  resistance certainly, the Germans having it given up.

mulberry-bridgeToday, paradoxically, Gold is the only one of five beaches on whom we can again see remnants of the D-day, and this in … Arromanches, that is in the (almost ) only place where nobody landed ! It is indeed the place chosen by the Allies to make port facilities which, otherwise, would cruelly have been lacking: there is no important harbour in the chosen zone; the Canadian raid on Dieppe in 1942 showed that you should not expect to be able to seize a port which would remain usable; and Cherbourg is still, (in spite of the extension of the zones of landing proposed by Montgomery), in 50 kilometers of the forehead and cannot thus be freed so quickly.

Thas is why came the idea, imagined since 1942 by Lord Mountbatten, to bring structures “prefabricated” in England, dragged through the Channel, and put in the right places: it is the ” Mulberry ” project. Two artificial ports  are so designed, with concrete boxes, watertight during the crossing, then once sunk  arrived at the planned point, and of metallic floating bridges: the first in the British sector, it is Port Winston, in front of Arromanches, the other one in the American sector, at Omaha, in front of Saint Laurent: 144 000 tons of concrete, 850 000 tons of ballast, 105 000 tons of steel, planned to be used 90 days at least and resist a storm of strength 6.

Unfortunately, the one who gets up on June 19th, while all the works are not ended, will make unusable American Mulberry. Fortunately, the British one (is it because of its baptismal name ?) will resist. It will welcome, throughout the operations of the battle of Normandy, 12 000 tons of material a day.

Nowadays, some of these boxes are visible on the beaches of Arromanches and Asnelles, or not far away, so bringing the paradox as mentionned above.

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