PHOTO COLLECTIONS - Imperial War Museum / Portsmouth / Memorial in Caen / Pegasus Bridge / Grand Bunker Museum / Ste. Mere Eglise / Utah Beach / Pointe du Hoc / Omaha Beach / American Military Cemetery / German Military Cemetery / Longues Battery / Arromanches / Bayeux Musuem and British Cemetery / Bayeux Cathedral / WWII Paris Walking Tour / Paris Sights (Notre Dame, Eifell Tower, Arc de Triomphe)
Saturday, August 13, 2011
I didn’t figure out that I have navigation in my little mini Mercedes until the afternoon, but that turned out to be a good mistake, as a wrong turn led me to the Pegasus Bridge Memorial Museum in Benouville (check out their website for greater detail). I had the museum on my list of “possibles” as it is not American in its focus, but it was well worth the hour that I spent there and I would recommend it to any WWII buff. (It often seems that the museums with a very narrow focus can be hit or miss – but this one is a hit).
The original Pegasus Bridge was a drawbridge across the Caen Canal that British Airborne under John Howard took early on June 6, closing off the Germans on the east flank of the invasion and setting the stage for Allied movement to the east after the beachhead was secured. The British commandos came in on gliders, no small feat, and took the bridge in a flash – ten minutes. – and held it until France was liberated. They named the bridge for the winged horse on their shoulder patches.
The museum is full of artifacts and details the story of the British Airborne in the east. There is a great deal on paratroopers and gliders, two topics that I find fascinating,. The key components of the collection are a full scale model of a Horsa glider and, or course, the actual Pegasus Bridge (the one that now spans the canal is new).
Except for seeing it in “The Longest Day”, I never examined the whole story of the bridge until today. It really is a great story – awesome personalities, like Howard and “Piper” Bill Millin, daring acts of bravery, and some fun trivia like drinking buried champagne after taking the bridge. It’s also quite a rush to walk on the actual bridge and poke your head into a glider.