I’ve been to Normandy four times and have always had memorable adventures on the history trail. The great omission has been a close look to the locations of Sword Beach.

The BHTV team are back with a really excellent film outlining the events on Sword with a series of well constructed accounts of how the British 3rd Infantry Division came ashore and headed out to its objectives.  We see the planning stage, the principal assault phases and the arrival of elite commando units.

The film pays particular attention to the capture of objectives such as the Daimler, Morris and Hillman fortified positions and the link up between Lord Lovat’s commandos with the 6th Airborne Division. The story continues with an excellent account of the German counter-attack and this really adds balance to the story, relating just how close German armour got to the beach. The film concludes with analysis of why the British failed to take Caen on D-Day and it is pleasing that Tim Saunders and Andrew Duff make a good case for why this really was unlikely to be achieved under the circumstances.

The use of film and still archive is very well managed and there is a minimum of footage involving re-enactors. This is probably due to the range of original material available. Our old mate the Cadman’s Panzer IV does make an appearance but this slots in very well with the use of armoured vehicle monuments in Normandy. Once again, the veterans engaged as talking heads add an extra dimension with their laconic humour and genuine charm. God bless them.

The strength of this film is in the immense knowledge of the presenters who make the story easy to follow and quite entertaining. The editing is solid and well paced and the addition of maps and diagrams is well handled.  This is a thoroughly professional package.

Each section is produced separately, giving the viewer time to step out for a brew or to do their admin. All in all, this DVD is a bloody good use of your time and money and I look forward to using it as a basis for a future trip to Normandy. If you’re looking for a Father’s Day present, this really is a good bet.

Mark Barnes.

Pen & Sword DVD £16.99
110 minutes.

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.