6th JUNE 1944
Gold Beach - Jig, April 2003
Gold Beach was the extreme right landing area of the British and Commonwealth landings on D Day - 6th June 1944. The 50th (Northumbrian) Division came ashore here between Le Hamel and Ver sur Mer. Attached to them would be elements of 79th (Armoured) Division - the Funnies. The beach was divided into two further landing areas for D Day; 231st Brigade would come in on Jig Sector at Le Hamel/Asnelles, and 69th Brigade at King Sector in front of Ver sur Mer.
The pre-invasion bombardment had done its job, and on King Beach the 4/7th Dragoon Guards Duplex Drive Shermans came in at 0725, followed by the LCTs carrying the specialist tanks. LCAs carrying 5th East Yorks and 6th Green Howards were in the next wave, with 7th Green Howards in reserve who were to come in once the beach was secure and push inland. Fire support would follow in the form of Sextons of 86th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. As the men hit the beach, Lieutenant Colonel Robin Hastings recalled,
Rather sooner than we expected the craft came to a halt on a sandbank, slowly swiveling round towards the nearest shell. It was at this moment that the front door of the craft was supposed to drop down to provide us with a ramp by which to disembark. To our dismay, the door failed to open. I enlisted two lusty Royal Marines and with their help released the mechanism and let the flap down on to the water. There was no danger of being trampled in the rush. No one moved: all stared at the sea which came right up into the craft. The only thing was for me to walk along the wooden door myself and test the depth of the water for all to see. Very gradually I sat down, like a Brighton paddler, and dangled my feet over the edge. The water came up to my knees. Confidently, I rose to my feet and set off up the beach, followed tentatively by the assorted group from the landing craft.
Robin Hastings, An Undergraduate's War (Bellhouse Publishing 1997)
The landings had gone well, and CSM Stan Hollis of Hasting's battalion was carrying out a series of brave deeds that would get him the Victoria Cross - the only man to receive this medal for D Day.
On Jig Beach, Brigadier Stanier's 231st Brigade had also
successfully landed, and were already pushing inland towards their objectives,
with one part of the advance heading into Arromanches, to secure this village so
that the vital Mulberry Harbour could be built. This phase of the plan was
complete by the close of 6th June, and 2nd Devonshires had also pushed on to
secure the Longues Battery.
THE BATTLEFIELD TODAY
While much of the coast along Gold Beach has seen extensive development since WW2, many of the bunkers and defensive positions remain. There are numerous memorials to the men who landed here on D Day, with some of the casualties being buried in the nearby Ryes War Cemetery.
An excellent museum covering this area is found in Ver sur Mer: Musee America Gold Beach. No visit to Gold Beach is complete without this, and a walk to the nearby remains of the Mount Fleruy battery, where CSM Stan Hollis VC was in action.
ŠPAUL REED 2002-2006