British 50th Infantry Division

50th British Infantry Division on D-Day

50th British Infantry Division Shoulder Patch

50th British Infantry Division Shoulder Patch

The British 50th Infantry Division was given the task of assaulting Gold Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944. Main components of the division included the Devonshire, Hampshire, Dorsetshire and East Yorkshire regiments. The 50th Division had already seen action in North Africa, taking part in the battles of Gazala nad El Alamein.

Primary objectives of the unit for D-Day were to cut the Caen-Bayeux highway, capture the small port of Arromanches, link-up with the Americans from Omaha Beach to the west and hook-up with the Canadians to the east as they pushed inland from Juno Beach. Another extremely important objective was the seizure of the coastal battery at Longues.

On D-Day morning, initial waves of the 50th Division touched down at approximately 0725, the appointed H-Hour for Gold Beach. The tide had already covered many of the outer beach obstacles and several of the initial landing craft struck mines that were attached to them. Hostile fire hampered demolition personnel as they worked to clear the barriers, but the landings continued in force. Fortunately, pre-invasion bombardment on Gold Beach had wrought great damage on many of the German strong points and the troops were able to gain a quick foot-hold.

Savage fighting ensued near the villages of La Riviere and Le Hamel, but, by mid-afternoon, the British were pushing toward the south and gaining ground toward Bayeux. The 155mm guns of the Longues battery had been put out of action in a fierce duel with the cruiser HMS Ajax, while British troops eliminated resistance in that sector.

By nightfall on June 6, approximately 25,000 troops had landed on Gold Beach. The 50th Division had made impressive gains and forged a beachhead nearly 6 miles deep. The unit had also made contact with the Canadians from Juno Beach and found itself poised to take Bayeux. British casualties on Gold were approximately 400 by the end of the day.

For more information about the 50th British Infantry Division:

50th Division and Gold Beach – Contains considerable information about the 50th Division on Gold Beach during D-Day.