On the night of 5 June 1944, a force of 181 men, led by Major John Howard, took off from RAF Tarrant Rushton in Dorset, southern England in six Horsa gliders to capture two Bridges, one over the Caen canal at Benouville and the other a few hundred yards to the east, over the Orne River at Ranville.The force included elements of B and D Companies, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, a platoon of B Company, Royal Engineers, and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment. The object of this action was to prevent German armour from crossing the bridges and attacking the eastern flank of the landings at Sword Beach.
Five of the gliders landed close to their objectives around 16 minutes past midnight. The attackers poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and took the bridges within 10 minutes. They lost two men in the process, Lieutenant Den Brotheridge and Lance-Corporal Fred Greenhalgh. Lieutenant Brotheridge killed crossing the bridge in the first minutes of the assault and thus became the first member of the invading Allied armies to die in combat on D-Day.
The Oxf & Bucks were reinforced after the landings by Major Pine-Coffin's 7th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment and linked up with the beach landing forces with the arrival of Lord Lovat's Commandos.
(Click on the images to enlarge them)
After the war both bridges were renamed” pegasus bridge” & ” horsa bridge” to honour the men who reclaimed them from the Germans,thus becoming the first area’s of France to be liberated.