Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944 by Stephen E. Ambrose

Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944 by Stephen E. Ambrose

Author:Stephen E. Ambrose
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
Tags: History: American, Military History, France, Military Science, War, Europe, Normandy (France) - History, European history, Second World War, Campaigns, World history: Second World War, History - Military, 1939-1945, Normandy (France), Normandy, Military, World War, General & world history, History, Technology & Engineering, World War II, Military - World War II, 1939-1945 - Campaigns - France - Normandy, General, History: World, European history: Second World War, Technology
ISBN: 9780671671563
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 1988-11-15T10:59:18.992000+00:00

At that moment, glider no. 2 came down, exactly one minute behind no. 1. Pilot Oliver Boland could see Wallwork's Horsa ahead of him, 'and I didn't want to run up his arse', so Boland used his chute and hit his spoilers hard, forcing his Horsa onto the ground. He had to swerve, to avoid hitting Wallwork and as he did so he broke the back of the glider. He stopped right on the edge of the pond, a bit shaken but conscious. He called over his shoulder to his passengers, 'We're here, piss off and do what you're paid to do'.

The platoon commander, David Wood, was thrown out of the glider by the impact along with his bucket of grenades and his Sten, bayonet fixed. (The bayonets had been sharpened back at Tarrant Rushton, an overly dramatic gesture on John Howard's part, many of the men thought.) His platoon gathered around him, exactly as it was supposed to do, and he went forward to where Howard was waiting, just by the perimeter wire.

Howard and his wireless operator were lying on the ground, having just been shot at by a rifleman in the trenches on the other side of the road. Howard whispered to Wood, 'no. 2 task'. That meant to clear the trenches on the eastern or near side of the road. According to Howard, 'Like a pack of unleashed hounds Wood's platoon followed him across the road and into the fray.' As they did so, no. 3 glider crash-landed.

Like no. 1, no. 3 bounced, streamed its chute, and came back down on its skids with a resounding crash. Doc Vaughan, riding just behind the pilots, was thrown straight through the cockpit; his last thought was what a bloody fool he had been to volunteer for these damned gliders. He ended up some feet in front of the glider, really knocked out - it was well over fifteen minutes before he came to.

Lieutenant Sandy Smith was beside him. 'I went shooting straight past those two pilots, through the whole bloody lot, shot out like a bullet, and landed in front of the glider.' He was stunned, covered with mud, had lost his Sten gun, and 'didn't really know what the bloody hell I was doing'. Pulling himself up on his knees. Smith looked up and into the face of one of his section leaders. 'Well', the corporal said quietly, 'what are we waiting for, sir?'

'And this', as Smith analyses the event forty years later, 'is where the training comes in'. He staggered to his feet, grabbed a Sten gun, and started moving towards the bridge. Half a dozen of his men were still trapped inside the crashed glider; one of them drowned in the pond, the only casualty of the landing. It was 0018.


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