The landing area code-named Gold Beach was more than 8 km (5 miles) wide and included the coastal towns of La Rivière and Le Hamel. On the western end of the beach was the small port of Arromanches , and slightly west of that port was the town of Longues-sur-Mer.
The defending German forces consisted of elements of the 716th Division and at least part of the 1st Battalion of the excellent 352nd Division at Le Hamel. Many of the Germans were set up in houses along the coast, with the greatest concentrations located at Le Hamel and La Rivière. These fighting positions were vulnerable to naval gunfire and aerial bombardment and could easily be set on fire, but the Germans counted on a counterattack capability with Kampfgruppe Meyer, a mechanized unit of the 352nd Division based at the nearby town of Bayeux. This unit had practiced rapid maneuver to the beach to meet possible invasion attempts.
In addition to these defenses, atop a steep cliff on the outskirts of Longues was a formidable observation post that directed the fire of a battery of four 155-mm guns located a kilometre inland from the beach. Both the observation post and the guns were heavily protected with one-metre-thick concrete.
Gold Beach lay in the invasion area assigned to the British Second Army , under Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey. The assault sectors at Gold Beach were designated (from west to east) Item, Jig (comprising sections Green and Red), and King (also consisting of two sections named Green and Red). The assault was to be carried out by the British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division , which included the Devonshire, Hampshire , Dorsetshire , and East Yorkhire regiments. The beach was wide enough for two brigades to be landed side-by-side, so the 231st Brigade was assigned to Le Hamel in Jig sector and the 69th Brigade to La Rivière in King sector. Number 47 Royal Marine Commando , attached to the 50th Division for the landing, was assigned to Item sector.