On Wenesday the 21st (Mike's Birthday), we visited the 2 British and 1 Canadian Beaches. On the way there a must stop is theThe Pegasus Bridge Memorial Museum (opened on 4 June 2000 by the Prince of Wales, Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment). The museum is dedicated to the men of British 6th Airborne Division, the 3rd of the 3 Allied Airbore Dvisions landing the night before D Day. The museum tells the story of the first action of D-Day – Operation Deadstick ¬– the capture of the Caen Canal and Orne river bridges. Their capture prevented their use in any German counter-attack against the eastern flank of the landings at Sword Beach.
Major John Howard led a force of 181 men from the Glider Pilot Regiment in six Horsa gliders. Landing at 00:16 on 6 June 1944, the attack was virtually a complete surprise to the Germans (one of the gliders, Chalk 91, landed just 47 yards from Bénouville (now Pegasus after the Regiment) Bridge over the Caen Canal). The objectives were captured within 10 minutes of landing.
They were reinforced half-an-hour later by 7th Battalion the Parachute Regiment. Later they were joined by the beach landing forces with the arrival of Lord Lovat’s Commandos.
The action saw the first Allied deaths of D-Day – Lieutenant Den Brotheridge and Lance-Corporal Fred Greenhalgh – and the first house to be liberated, now the Café Gondrée, close to Pegasus Bridge. The original brige was replaced and left in a field after the War. Through donations and volunteer work the British Veterans bought the brige and funded the museum. It is an excellent one with great exhibits and a repiica Horsa glider, and of course the actual bridge to walk across.