Sword Beach - Wn13 - Pegasus Bridge - Bénouville


The first unit of the 6th Airborne Division to land in Normandy was the coup-de-main force from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, under the command of Major John Howard.

The three gliders carrying the first coup-de-main force (Caen Canal bridge) were supposed to land at 00:20 at LZ X, the lead glider was actually released slightly earlier, at 00:07, and landed at 00:15. The glider still impacted at considerable speed against an earth bank near to the bridge, the resulting impact throwing both pilot and co-pilot through the windscreen and knocking them unconscious and stunning the passengers. The second glider landed precisely sixty seconds later, swerving to avoid hitting the first glider and breaking in two as a result. The third glider landed successfully at 00:18, but skidded into a pond, causing several injuries and a single fatality amongst the occupants. The airborne troops emerged from the gliders and formed up, the noise of the gliders landing having been ignored by the sentry on patrol. The bridge was secured by 00:24, and the airborne troops they discovered was not rigged with explosives as had been believed.

The second coup-de-main force suffered more difficulties than the first coup-de-main force (Caen Canal bridge) in their attempt to capture the Orne River Bridge. Whilst two gliders landed intact at 00:20 at LZ Y, the third glider was released off-target when the aircraft towing the glider mistook the River Dives for the Orne, and the glider landed eight miles east of its intended target. At the Orne River bridge, a machine-gun nest was suppressed with mortar fire but no other defenders were found, and the two platoons captured the bridge before radioing Major Howard and informing him of their success.