|D-Day Campaign Pt. 4 |
|The Liberation of Brothers and Sisters on Sword Beach|
With the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, the fate of France seemed sealed. Germany had control of Europe extending to the Bay of Biscay, and any French nationals abroad found their homeland barred and occupied. However, with the departure of British forces went French soldiers. On ships and in other nations, French officers and enlisted men rallied in the hope that they may one day take back the nation that was rightfully theirs. So came the inception of the Free French Forces.
Hand in hand with that was the development of a new commando force of French soldiers to be trained to carry out sensitive missions back on French soil. During the month of May in 1941, the Commandos Fusiliers-Marins was founded. Their training was just as intense as any other commando units of Axis and Allies alike could receive. They quickly became a hardened elite strike force. Nicknamed the Berets-Vert they became involved in raids along the coast of France during Dieppe and in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.
When the plans for D-Day were drafted, there was no question that the Free French forces should participate in some capacity in this epic undertaking. Finally, they had a chance to exact revenge on the German occupiers and, more importantly, liberate their homeland. Number 8 Commando was chosen as the first French unit to set foot on French soil as liberators. They would be followed by other Free French units that would bolster the Allied ranks in Normandy. It was settled that the commandos would land assigned to Lord Lovat’s (a veteran of Dunkirk himself) Number 4 Commando at Sword Beach. While the British were to take the city of Ouistreham and neutralize its defenses in the east quarter, the French commandos, led by the heroic Philippe Kieffer, would swing around from the west and neutralize the German strongpoint at Riva-Bella.
The Commandoes landed a little too far to the west of Ouistreham itself and had to skirt across the beach and over the countryside to get to their objective. Along the way the commandos cleared out 7 enemy pillboxes before arriving at their objective, the old casino at Riva-Bella at 0900 hours. Finding the casino heavily fortified, the commandos called up armor to destroy the blockhouse and set about clearing out the defenders. The German defenders and Eastern European conscripts prove ready for an assault and they had no choice but to fight or die. No quarter is to be spared as two enemies met in close hand to hand combat.
Scenario DD-4: Sword Beach Liberation
At 0900 hrs on June 6th 1944, Number 8 troop of Number 4 Commando arrive at their objective, the Casino at Riva-Bella. The Free French Commandos must flush out the Germans from this complex by whatever means possible so that Whermacht reinforcements are not funneled through here to the beach.
Destruction of the Blockhouse is the primary objective of Number 4 Troop Commandos. If possible, all obstacles that could impede movement of further waves of soldiers should be cleared as well. Speed is of the utmost importance as the French Commandos must rejoin Lord Lovat and his men to reinforce Pegasus Bridge in the afternoon.
Outnumbered, even if the commandoes are held off the oncoming tide of Allied infantry and armor will eventually render even this strong blockhouse untenable ground. The best that can be hoped for is a continued slow-down of Allied operations around Ouistreham. The French want revenge but if denied that, then the defenders will have done enough.
The commandoes met stiff resistance at the casino blockhouse but their armored support flushed out the defenders and brought the whole complex down. The commandos finished off the defenders and moved to rejoin the British commandos en route to Benouville to relieve Major Howard and his men holding the Pegasus Bridge. The Free French got their revenge, but as in most cases along Normandy, most of the defenders were not actually German soldiers. The toll was also high for the Commandos as they suffered 114 casualties of their 177 man force. They made an excellent account of themselves and continued to fight until their homeland was finally liberated from German occupation and beyond to the fall of Berlin. (Allies 8 – 4)