FIRST TO LAND
by Simon Smith
- SWORD BEACH, 6 JUNE 1944 -
Amongst those storming ashore on Sword Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944 were the 177 men of the elite 1er Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins Commandos commanded by Capitaine de Corvette Philippe Kieffer. As part of Lord Lovat’s 1st Special Service Brigade, the ‘Commando Kieffer’ had the distinction of being the first, and only, French unit that day to land on any of the D-Day beaches.
D-Day 6 June 1944: and the landing of vast British, American and Canadian armies on the beaches of Normandy would go down in history as the day on which the liberation of France and north-west Europe began. On Sword Beach, however, a small elite unit from another country joined the fray; the 177 men of the 1er Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins Commandos commanded by Capitaine de Corvette Philippe Kieffer.
Created in the spring of 1944 the battalion owed its origins to a small unit of ‘Commandos Francais’ formed in 1942 which had fought with distinction on several raids, including alongside British and Canadian commandos at Dieppe. On D-Day, operating as part of Lord Lovat’s 1st Special Service Brigade, they landed under heavy fire on Sword Beach at around 07.30 hrs on the morning of 6 June. Being the first and only French unit landing on any of the D-Day beaches that morning they nevertheless acquitted themselves with great distinction by successfully overwhelming several German strongholds, including the heavily fortified casino in Ouisterham before fighting their way inland to link up with the British paratroopers holding Pegasus Bridge.
Available as an un-signed, Open Edition print.
Simon’s dramatic work serves as a tribute to all those who took part in the Normandy campaign, and in particular the elite band of French Commandos who landed at Sword Beach on that fateful morning.
- 25.25 x 16.75 inches
- Release Date:
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