Gold Beach was the codename of the sector assigned to XXX British Corps. East of Arromanches, the cliffs give way to a low-lying, marshy coastline, and it was there, in front of Asnelles and Ver-sur-Mer, that General Graham’s 50th Northumbrian Division was to spearhead the assault. They landed at 7.25 am, an hour later than the Americans, due to local differences in tide times.
The enemy resistance was concentrated at the far ends of the sector, more particularly in Asnelles. After landing without too much difficulty opposite a place called Les Roquettes, the 231st Brigade veered westwards and soon ran into stiff opposition. The stronghold of Le Hamel, which had been almost untouched by the preliminary bombardments, inflicted severe losses on the British forces, and it took several assaults, supported by special tanks and extensive reinforcements, to neutralize the position, which was only captured mid-afternoon, after a hard-fought struggle.
Further east, in front of Ver-sur-Mer, the 69th Brigade was advancing more rapidly. The main obstacle, in the shape of the fortified hamlet of La Rivière, was removed mid-morning, after a tank knocked out the 88-mm gun installed in a blockhouse on the sea wall that had been keeping its attackers at bay. The two heavy batteries located in the commune at Mont Fleury and Marefontaine, which had been put out of action by aerial and naval bombardments, were rapidly captured.
Lastly, in the centre of the landing sector, a mediocre unit made up of Russians enlisted in the Wehrmacht was relentlessly pummelled and eventually scattered. This facilitated the British break-out through the marshes, where gaps in the minefields were opened up by their “flail” tanks. From there, General Graham’s troops, reinforced by the division’s reserve brigade, advanced further inland, encountering little opposition.
By the evening of June 6th, the British had landed 25,000 men on Gold Beach and were in control of a quadrilateral measuring roughly ten kilometres by ten. Most of the day’s objectives has been achieved. The advanced elements of the 50th Division were now within sight of the N13 trunk road and the outskirts of Bayeux. On the left flank, the British had joined up with the Canadians from Juno Beach. On the right, however, although Arromanches had been taken late in the afternoon, Port-en-Bessin was still in the hands of the Germans and no form of contact had been established with the Americans, due to the terrible difficulties the latter had been experiencing at Omaha.