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Night Landing at Pegasus Bridge

Just after midnight on 6th June 1944, 181 airborne troops were released in six gliders over the Orne Estuary. By a superb feat of navigation and night flying, five landed adjacent or near to the Orne River and Canal bridges. ‘Pegasus Bridge’ as the latter came to be called was the first British objective to be captured on D-Day.

After months of the most demanding training to almost impossible standards, Major John Howard DSO led his six platoons from D Company the ‘Ox and Bucks’ Light Infantry, supported by Royal Engineer detachments, and captured the bridges after a 15-minute short skirmish. Because the gliders arrived silently overhead the German unit guarding the bridge, total surprise had been achieved and Howard's immense aggression then overwhelmed the defenders.

Later reinforced by soldiers from 7 Para the bridge was held, despite repeated counter-attacks by German tanks and infantry. One of Howard's NCOs made an incredibly accurate shot at a suicidal range on a German Tiger tank about to make its way across the bridge, effectively blocking any further attempts by the Germans to force armoured units across and onto the D-Day beaches where they would have inflicted catastrophic damage on the lightly-armed landing troop formations. Enemy reinforcements now faced a six-hour detour through Caen in order to cross the river to engage the Invasion bridgehead.

Detailed planning, harsh and aggressive training and precision flying produced probably the outstanding glider coup de main operation of the Second World War.

Units Engaged:

D Company 2nd Battalion ‘Ox and Bucks’ Light Infantry.
Elements of B Company.
RE attachments from 249 Forward Company RE.

Pilots from the Glider Pilot Regiment.


d-day landings


pegasus bridge mapStrategic choke-point for German armour headed for Allied D-Day landings (courtesy

glider landings at pegasus

Superhuman navigation and flying ability at night brought gliders immediately adjacent to their target.
Recognized today as one of the greatest feats of flying in all of WWll (Courtesy IWM)

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SY 2022-11-16

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Last Modified: 16 November 2022, 12:47

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