Normandy Legacy, D-DAY Remembered 70 years on. The Assault on Pegasus Bridge – Operation DEADSTICK

by | Jun 6, 2014 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

At approximately 00:16hrs on the 6th June 1944, Horsa Gliders containing the Officers and men of 2nd Bn The Ox & Bucks LI landed in occupied France in a daring operation to seize the crossings over The Caen Canal and Orne River. The purpose of operation DEADSTICK as it was codenamed was two fold; to hold the bridges in order to prevent German reinforcement or counter attacks against the east flank of the allied landing beaches and to secure the crossing for use in a future breakout towards Caen. The crossings were to be seized in a ‘coup de main’ operation, executed by 2 Coy groups of Glider borne infantry. The Caen Canal crossing was to be seized by 3 platoons from 2nd Ox & Bucks (52nd) LI, reinforced with Royal Engineers, R Signals and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment, all under command Major John Howard, a similar sized force landed to seize the neighbouring bridge over the river Orne. These two groups were the first formed body of allied troops to land in occupied France in 1944. Surprise was total, with the gliders landing within a few yards of the crossing points. Both bridges were taken intact in a matter of minutes. British casualties were two killed and 14 wounded. Major Howard was later awarded the DSO for his part in this action. He and his men are today remembered for the execution of one of the most daring and brilliantly executed operations of the Second World War, and one that is proudly remembered by their successors today in The Rifles.

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