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Operation Tonga

Discussion in 'Pegasus Bridge' started by Jim, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    General Sir Richard Nelson Gale GCB, KBE, DSO, MC (1896 – 1982) In World War II he served with 1st Parachute Brigade and then the 6th Airborne Division during the invasion of Normandy and Operation Tonga in 1944. May 1943 Gale was promoted to the rank of major-general and assumed command of the newly-formed 6th Airborne Division.[13] Gale has just under a year to organize and train the division before it was due to participate in Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings in Normandy in June 1944.

    General Sir Richard Nelson Gale​


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    In 1941 the 2nd Battalion re-roled as an airborne, specifically an Air Landing, unit, joining the 1st Airborne Division and in 1943 the 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division. As part of Operation Tonga just before the landings on D-Day 6 June 1944, D Company, 2nd Ox & Bucks Commanded by Maj. John Howard as well as Royal Engineers and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment (totalling 181 men), were to land via 6 Horsa gliders to capture the vital Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and the bridge over the Orne River (known as Horsa Bridge and east of Pegasus). This was intended to secure the eastern flank to prevent German armour from reaching the British 3rd Infantry Division that was landing on Sword Beach.

    British Soldiers Crossing Pegasus Bridge​


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    The Ox and Bucks landed very close to their objectives at 16 minutes past midnight—the first Allied unit to land in France—they poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and taking the bridges within 10 minutes, losing two men, Lieutenant Den Brotheridge and Lance-Corporal Greenhalgh, in the process. One Glider assigned to the capture of Horsa Bridge was landed at the bridge over the River Dives, some 7 miles from where they were meant to land. They, in spite of this, captured the River Dives bridge, advanced through German lines towards the village of Ranville where they eventually rejoined the British forces. The Ox & Bucks were reinforced half an hour after the landings by 7 Para, with further units arriving shortly afterwards. The Germans launched many attempts to re-capture the bridges, all being repulsed. Later in the day, at about 1:00pm, Lord Lovat and elements of his 1st Special Service Brigade arrived to relieve the exhausted defenders, followed by the British 3rd Infantry Division. The operation was immortalised in the film The Longest Day.

    Horsa Gliders landing right on the button at Pegasus Bridge​


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