Just after after midnight on 6th June 1944, 181 airborne troops were released in six gliders over the Orne Estuary. By a superb feat of navigation and night flying five landed adjacent or near to the Orne River and Canal bridges. ‘Pegasus Bridge’ as the latter came to be called was the first British objective to be captured on D-Day.
Major John Howard’s six platoons from D Company the ‘Ox and Bucks’ Light Infantry supported by Royal Engineer detachments captured the bridges after a 15- minute short skirmish. Total surprise was achieved. Later reinforced by soldiers from 7 PARA the bridge was held, despite repeated counter-attacks by German tanks and infantry. Enemy reinforcements now faced a six-hour detour through Caen in order to cross the river to engage the Invasion bridgehead.
Detailed planning, harsh and aggressive training and precision flying produced one of the outstanding glider coup de main operations of the Second World War.
Units Engaged:D Company 2nd Battalion ‘Ox and Bucks’ Light Infantry.
Elements of B Company.
RE attachments from 249 Forward Company RE.
Pilots from the Glider Pilot Regiment.