The successful capture of the River Orne Bridge at Ranville and the bridge across the Caen Canal at Bénouville is unarguably the most well-known mission of the Airborne Division.
In 1961, film producer Darryl Zanuck gave the mission a celebrity status after realeasing the D-Day film, The Longest Day.
On the night of 5th June 1944, 180 troops of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, led by Major John Howard, captured the two bridges in less than ten minutes after landing in Horsa gliders merely metres away.
In less than ten minutes both bridges had been captured intact and the sea borne reinforcements, commanded by Brigadier Lord Lovat, were able to cross the waterways and reinforce the 6th Airborne Division on the eastern flank. The division was also joined and supported by 177 French Commandos, led by Philip Kieffer.
The Caen Canal bridge – also known as Bénouville Bridge – was baptised Pegasus Bridge as a tribute to the British Airborne Division because the men wore the winged horse, Pegasus, as an emblem on the sleeves of their uniform. The bridge was replaced in 1994 with a new structure and the original is now on display in the park of Le Mémorial Pegasus.
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