Places of Interest

Pegasus Bridge

The capture of the River Orne bridge at Ranville and the bridge across the Caen Canal at Bénouville is the most famous mission of the airborne division. Commanded by Major John Howard, 180 troops of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry captured the bridges after landing in Horsa gliders only metres from their objectives.

In less than ten minutes both bridges had been captured intact. The sea borne reinforcements commanded by Brigadier Lord Lovat, preceded by his bagpiper Bill Millin, (made famous in the film The Longest Day) were able to cross the waterways to reinforce 6th Airborne Division on the eastern flank. Among these Green Berets were 177 French Commandos commanded by Philip Kieffer.

On June 26th 1944, the Caen Canal bridge was named Pegasus Bridge as a tribute to the British troops. Pegasus (the winged horse) was the emblem worn on the sleeves of the men of the airborne division. This insignia was chosen by the author Daphne du Maurier, wife of the wartime commander of British airborne forces General Sir Frederick Browning.

In 1994 the original Pegasus Bridge was replaced by a new one.  The old bridge is now on display in the park of the museum.

On the west bank of the Orne Canal stands Café Gondrée, the first building to be liberated in France and was used as an aid station by Major Howards force.  Georges & Thérèse Gondrée owners of the café at the time were held in the highest regard by French civilians and British veterans of all ranks for their courageous efforts.

The Café Gondrée still remains in the same family, with the youngest daughter Françoise founding the Musee de Pegasus Bridge.

Pegasus Memorial

Opened on 4th June 2000 by Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, it is dedicated to the men and objectives of the 6th Airborne Division from D Day to September 1944.

The memorial holds many artefacts and photographs with the old bridge now on display in the park of the museum, a copy of a Horsa glider and a Bailey Bridge.  One of the highlights of the visit is the informative talk given in English or French, followed by the cinematic portrayal of the events as they unfolded.

 

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  • Pegasus Bridge
Photographs 1 & 3 taken by Dave Vickers, Photocoordinates