Often overlooked is that on D-Day, the majority of forces that were landed were British and Canadian. They also bore the brunt of the German counter-attacks in the days and weeks following the invasion.
Many of the battles were around the beautiful city of Caen, the ancient capital of Normandy. As an important communications center, the city was supposed to have been captured in the evening of D-Day. However due the confusion at the beach, narrow French roads and the furious resistance of the German 21st Panzer Division ensured it stayed in German hands.
On July 7, 1944 Montgomery launched Operation Charnwood, 450 RAF Halifax’s and Lancaster’s bombed the city to destruction. The German 12th SS Hitlerjugend and 16th Luftwaffe Divisions continued to fight, and as the British and Canadian Forces attacked, hand to hand street fighting ensued. The city was eventually taken on July 8th although the German counter- attacks continued. Over 3500 British and Canadian Soldiers were lost in taking the City of Caen.