As darkness fell on 5th June 1944 six Horsa gliders set off from Tarrant Rushton airfield in Dorset pulled by Halifax bombers. Inside the gliders were troops from C company of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry that were part of the 7,000 strong British 6th Airborne Division commanded by Major General Richard “Windy” Gale. The C company troops were commanded by ex Policeman Major Howard and their mission was to capture and secure the bridge over the river Orne and the Caen canal bridge that is now known as Pegasus Bridge.
A few minutes later just after midnight Albemarle aircraft took off from Harwell airfield in Berkshire with soldiers from the 22nd Independent Parachute Company. These troops were pathfinders and their mission was to mark and set up landing zones for the main parachute forces that were due to land half an hour later, who’s mission was to secure the left flank of the Allied invasion, including silencing the guns at the Merville Battery and destroying the bridges over the river Dives.
Wind and heavy German flak widely scattered the main drop so that only 40% of the Division could form up for its initial tasks. Gliders landed at the wrong locations or crashed on landing, but they still managed to subdue and occupy German forces over 24 square miles of enemy territory.
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