Sword, commonly known as Sword Beach, was the code name given to one of the five main landing areas along the Normandy coast during the initial assault phase, Operation Neptune, of Operation Overlord; the Allied invasion of German-occupied France that commenced on 6 June 1944. Stretching 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Ouistreham to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, the beach was the easternmost landing site of the invasion. Sword was divided into several sectors, and each sector divided into beaches; thus the British 3rd Infantry Division, assigned to land on Sword, assaulted a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) stretch of Sword codenamed Queen Sector – Queen Red, White and Green beaches.
Among the five beaches of the operation, Sword is the nearest to Caen, being located around 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the goal of the 3rd Infantry Division. The initial landings were achieved with low casualties, but the advance from the beach was met with traffic congestion, heavily defended areas behind the beachhead and was met by the only armoured counterattack of the day, mounted by the 21st Panzer Division, that halted further progress towards Caen.