Day 1: Pegasus Bridge & the Mirville Battery
The landings on the beaches of Normandy on 6th June 1944 marked the beginning of a 3 month campaign in Normandy to drive the German army back beyond the Seine. The link below provides a very good, brief overview of the Normandy campaign which is recommended in preparation for your visit.
At midnight 6 gliders landed as planned close to the two bridges over the Caen Canal and the River Orne near Benouville. The gliders were known as Horsa’s and the emblem of the 6th Airborne Division was the flying horse Pegasus and since that day the bridge over the Orne has been known as Horsa Bridge and the bridge over the Caen Canal has been known as Pegasus Bridge.
Stand at the point where the first of these gliders came to rest at dead of night and be amazed that this was even attempted let alone that it succeeded! These Paratroopers then took and held these bridges to prevent any possibility of a flank attack on the beach landings by German armour. Then go into the Pegasus Bridge Memorial Museum and learn the incredible story of this vital operation.
Visit the Cafe Gondree, the first house to be liberated in France on D-day.
Further units of the 6th Airborne Division landed by parachute and gliders in the area to the east of the bridges. They were tasked with holding this land, protecting the Orne Bridges, and destroying the bridges over the River Dives and silencing the dangerous Mirville Battery which could have seriously endangered the landings on nearby Sword Beach. The amazing story of the capture of the battery by 9th Para is told at the memorial museum at Mirville.
The battery defenses have been preserved and look just as daunting today.
The crucial approaches to the Orne Bridges and Sword Beach around Amfreville and Bréville-les-Monts were held for the next 6 weeks by paratroops, commandos and the Black Watch among others, in the face of constant German counter attack until operation Goodwood relieved the pressure weeks later. neary is the the British Cemetry at Ranville.