Pegasus Bridge Cont

Old Bridge      New Bridge    Howard Monument  

The assault on the Orne River bridge went as smoothly, although one of the three gliders assigned to that operation missed the bridge area altogether, landing miles away in the flooded Dives valley. The two remaining two gliders landed near the bridge. The twenty eight men from that lone glider rushed the bridge despite the loss of surprise. Fortunately, the German guards did not know the odds; they scattered before the determined British charge. Not only had the bridges been captured easily, but they were intact. Both structures were thought to have been wired for demolition, but the explosive charges had not been planted. The Germans took the explosives away at night fearing that the Resistance would steal them. A thousand men in fifty gliders landed nearby just after 03:00 a counter attack by the German 192nd regiment was repelled. These were followed by both parachute and glider troops later in the day. Major Howard's men held their prizes throughout D Day while German pressure mounted. Around 1200 hours, some two and a half minutes after they were to have been reinforced, the beleaguered defenders were startled by the distant sound of bagpipes.  The 6 Commando of the 1st Special Service Brigade, led by Brigadier Lord Lovat, had arrived with piper Bill Millin. The two forces joined ranks to the tune of "Blue Bonnets over the Border" and the crack of small-arms fire. Although the Orne bridges would not be truly secure until units of the 3d British Division arrived late in the afternoon, the skirl of Millin's pipes had assured the men of Howard's command that the sea borne invasion was in fact ashore. The Pegasus Bridge site is especially rich in D Day memorabilia. In addition to the original bridge itself (complete with painted-over bullet marks and a bomb dent in the bridge counterweight). For the 60th anniversary a replica Horsa glider is being built. The cafe Gondree next to the bridge was the first house to be liberated on D-day and is now owned by Mme Gondree the daughter who as a small child remembers the events of D-day. The reason for the bridge being called "Pegasus" is because the emblem of a flying horse is the regimental crest of the Oxford and Buckingham Light Infantry. On the 50th anniversary of D-day Major Howard and Bill Millin were able to be here together with other veterans to lead the celebrations. The original bridge was replaced by this larger bridge, but in the same style, in 1995.  The original spent several years in a lorry park, before becoming the center of a new museum opened by Prince Charles on the 6th of June 2000.

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