It was a very rainy day...we reached Pegasus Bridge and I sat in the car while Steve braved the rain and wind to get some pictures.
The capture of the River Orne bridge at Ranville and the bridge across the Caen Canal at Bénouville is the most famous mission of the airborne division. 180 troops of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, commanded by Major John Howard, captured the bridges after landing in Horsa gliders only metres from their objectives.
In less than ten minutes both bridges had been captured intact. The sea borne reinforcements commanded by Brigadier Lord Lovat, preceded by his bagpiper Bill Millin, were able to cross the waterways to reinforce 6th Airborne Division on the eastern flank. Among these Green Berets, 177 French Commandos commanded by Philip Kieffer.
On June 26th 1944, the Caen Canal bridge was baptised Pegasus Bridge as a tribute to the British troops. Pegasus, the winged horse, was the emblem worn on the sleeves of the men of the airborne division. The insignia was chosen by the author Daphne du Maurier, wife of the wartime commander of British airborne forces General Sir Frederick Browning.
In 1961 the bridge acquired celebrity status due to the D-Day film, produced by Darryl Zanuck, The Longest Day.
Replaced in 1994 by a new bridge the original Pegasus Bridge is now on display in the park of the museum.
Next, we set out to see the other British landing zone Sword Beach. We ended up at Lion-ser-Mer on the coast, a lovely little community...too bad the weather wasn't nicer. We parked the car and after a visit to a Visitor Centre, and a few pictures...we were on our way to Ouistreham, having to retrace our route a short distance.
Le Grand Bunker Musee a German headquarters which was in charge of batteries covering the entrance to the river Orne and the canal. Steve had a quick look around while I waited in the car. We were running short on time so had to move on...
Juno Beach. Since we didn't get a chance to go through the Juno Beach Centre yesterday...we made a quick stop to take a look.
We forgot to mention that when we were here for the Remembrance Day service yesterday we met a couple of gentleman from our area on southern Vancouver Island. One was a veteran that served in Afghanistan and Bosnia and now runs the Beaver Lake Campground near Cowichan Lake, The other fellow was from Sooke but now lives in London and his dad fought here. That was very cool!
Pointe Du Hoc...about an hour's drive west...
In World War II, German forces occupied Pointe du Hoc and transformed the quiet spot into a fortified stronghold protecting a battery of heavy guns. On the morning of June 6, 1944, US Army Rangers scaled 90-foot cliffs to capture this heavily defended position and then held it against repeated counterattacks. Their heroic actions helped to establish an Allied foothold in France and begin the liberation of Europe.
The point stood on cliffs between 85 to over 100 feet high at whose base was a very small rocky beach that offered no protection. Because the point was positioned on near impregnable cliffs, the Germans had concentrated their defenses in anticipation of a ground assault from inland. Above were heavily fortified concrete casements interlaced with tunnels, trenches, and machine-gun positions around the perimeter.
Although the 716th Infantry Division was thinly stretched along 30 miles of the shoreline, approximately 200 German troops (125 infantry and 85 artillery men) were garrisoned in or around the point.
US Army Ranger Units Sustained Heavy Losses During the Normandy Landings --
Of 225 Rangers that left the ships in the first wave to attack Pointe du Hoc, only 90 men were still able to bear arms when the relief force arrived on the morning of June 8. In the larger battle, the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions taken together suffered 96 killed, 183 wounded, and 32 missing during the battle for Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach.
American Cemetery Omaha Beach...
The names of 1,557 Americans who lost their lives in the Normandy campaign but could not be located and/or identified are inscribed on the walls of a semicircular garden at the east side of the memorial.
This part consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing maps and narratives of the military operations. At the center is a 22-foot bronze statue entitled The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves. Facing west at the memorial, one sees in the foreground the reflecting pool, the mall with burial areas to either side and the circular chapel beyond. Behind the chapel are allegorical figures representing the United States and France. An orientation table overlooks the beach and depicts the landings at Normandy.
The Memorial faces the United States at its nearest point to the cemetery; a point between Eastport and Lubec, Maine.
After relaxing for a bit, enjoying our last evening view of the Cathedral all lit up, we walked around the corner to the little pub we discovered last night...our last night in Bayeux...