When British 3rd Infantry Division landed on Sword Beach in Normandy on D-Day, it was the most powerful to date, comprising infantry, armour, commandos, self propelled artillery and anti-tank guns, specialist assault armour and a host of support units. Covered by a tactical air force and supported by the offshore guns of the Royal Navy, the division assaulted Sword Beach with a force that was unstoppable. Within hours of the first touchdown tanks and infantry were ashore, fanning out across the countryside to enlarge the lodgement and sending an armoured thrust towards their first objective, Caen, just seven miles away. Then it all went wrong. Sword was the only Allied beachhead to suffer armoured counterattack by a German panzer division on D-Day and from then on the invaders struggled to make any progress. Advances that should have been measured in miles were reduced to a few hedgerows, or a field here and a wood there. Caen was not captured for seven more weeks.Covering both the triumph of the Sword Beach landings and the disappointment of the failure to capitalise on that early success, the first seven days that British troops were back on the soil of mainland Europe make a fascinating story. Ken Ford allows the reader to stand on the spot where momentous decisions were made, see how and why the battle lost its momentum and understand why the Caen attack slowed almost to stalemate.