Pegasus Bridge

Jara Matan By Jara Matan, 3rd May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>France>Normandy

Visit to Pegasus Bridge Memorial in Normandy on D-day tour. Includes items of interest and encourages interested visitors.

Pegasus Bridge

One of the first, and possibly most perilous, D-Day objectives, Pegasus Bridge lies to the north-east of Caen, at a place called Benouville, and transport is needed to visit the site. During the tourist season organized trips can provide the means to reach it but this imposes a timetable on your trip and, if like me you don't like to be rushed, it is sometimes more beneficial to arrange your own transport. With Ouistreham to the north and Caen to the south, public transport is available and reliable enough for this purpose but if possible private transport gives the greatest flexibility.
Assuming you'll be travelling from Caen or the nearby ferry port of Ouistreham, you'll approach the memorial from the west side of the Caen canal. The Pegasus Memorial is clearly visible on the other side but, what you are most likely to notice first as you approach the canal, is the German Tank displayed on the left pavement and the Cafe Gondree to the right. Whether you visit the cafe before going onto the memorial or come back for some refreshments after, it is essential to do so as the cafe has it's own part in this historical event. It holds the accolade of being the first French building liberated by the allies, some hours before the actual D-day beach landings further north, and is still operated by the same family who owned it in 1944.
It is a meeting point for veterans and interested enthusiasts alike. Here, you can learn about the owners experiences that night as well as view memorabilia and read about the events as they unfolded. It is reasonably priced and supplies good quality food and drink.
Across the canal is the Memorial itself although time should be spent on the surrounding area before entering. Opposite the memorial is the original landing site for the gliders, the journeys of which is told inside in detail. Time should be taken however to walk the area and view the markers and information that describe the opening phase of Operation Deadstick.
The memorial is wonderfully laid out and covers all aspects of the operation in detail. Within, there are the items and information explaining the planning, preparation and execution of the operation and details of the experiences of the men involved. It also contains a few unique historical gems, such as Bill Millin's bagpipes for a more personal perspective.
To give a clearer understanding of the events that took place there is a large tabletop map modelled to show clearly the terrain and the operations within that area. This is further enhanced if you are able to make use of the instructional talks given periodically through the day which help explain the movement of forces and what they achieved.
In the outside area of the memorial is the original bridge span that was successfully captured that night. Ideally positioned so you can view the sight that would have greeted those first soldiers as they raced across it and, with a little imagination, it brings the full scale of how dangerous this endeavour was to those involved. There is also a complete glider that allows some internal viewing as well as sections recovered from the nearby land. As well as the military hardware there is a section of Bailey bridge as well as a rather surprising revelation regarding this innovative invention and a statue to Brigadier James Hill DSO** MC who led the 3rd Parachute Brigade despite severe injuries.
Unlike some memorials, the Pegasus Memorial is more detailed and has a slightly more personal perspective to it mainly due to the smaller scale of the events it covers and the fewer people involved. It also details some of the stranger incidents and quirky individuals that are hard to imagine occurring in the heat of war.

Tags

Airborne, Bill Millin, D-Day, Gliders, Operation Deadstick, Paratroopers, Pegasus, Wwii

Meet the author

author avatar Jara Matan
37yr old single father. Over a decade experience in supporting Learning Difficulties and Supported Living. Extensive knowledge of modern history(1880-1965) in social, political and military aspects.

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
7th May 2013 (#)

Another great place of interest.

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