After driving back German counterattacks at the end of D-Day and fully securing the Sword beachhead, the British amassed their forces in preparation for movement towards Caen. The 21st Panzer Division, initially defending Caen on its own, had lost more than half of its tanks in the counterattack on 6 June and subsequently had to attempt to hold a weakened line to the north of the city whilst reinforcement Panzer divisions arrived in support. The bridgehead across the Orne that had been established by the 6th Airborne Division reduced the threat of British forces being closed in from the east. However, German reinforcements were arriving by the day and progress towards Caen was still difficult due to the presence of German armoured units tasked with defending the city. There were also significant numbers of German flak guns positioned north of Caen, making it more difficult for the Allies to achieve air superiority.
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