After an initial delay in launching a counterattack, the German 21st Panzer Division made a move north in an attempt to drive the Allies back to the beach. A first counterattack targeted the 6th Airborne Division who had managed to push east over the vital bridgehead captured right at the beginning of the offensive, however it was stopped by heavy Allied naval artillery and air support. The more successful counterattack exploited the western flank of the Sword beachhead, where British forces had not been able to make contact with Canadian forces landing at Juno. This second counterattack managed to gain ground all the way to the beach, but after losing momentum in an encounter with British tanks was swiftly bombarded by Allied aircraft. After sighting a fresh deployment of gliders on their way to the Orne bridgehead, the Germans suspected they were about to be surrounded and began to retreat.
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