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At 0020 hours on the morning of 6 June the six gliders carrying the coup do main party under the command of Major R.J. HOWARD, DSO, 2 Oxf & Bucks were released and five of them came to land at their appointed places near the bridges (sec Sketch I). The sixth glider did not locate its LZ and came in close to the R DIVES some 5 miles East. The gliders and tugs had had an uneventful journey and met surprisingly little flak either over the coast or in landing.

The leading glider for the canal bridge, piloted by Staff Serjeant J.H. WALLWORK, MM, Glider Pilot Regiment, and carrying Maj Howard, came in with perfect accuracy and pulled up only 20 yds from the bridge itself with its nose well into the wire of the defences. The other two gliders for this bridge were only a few yards away. The night was fine and although the moon was overcast, visibility was between 30 and 40 yds.

Lt H.D. BROTHERIDGE's platoon were in the first glider. They worked their way to the rd at the East and of the bridge, then led by Lt Brotheridge, assaulted across it to secure the for bank. The few minutes needed to get on to the road were sufficient to rouse the defences across the river and the charge was met by MG fire. There was no hesitation however, and although Lt Brotheridge himself was killed, the enemy defences were rapidly overcome.

Meanwhile the second platoon, commanded by Lt D.J. WOOD, were out almost simultaneously. They made for the pillbox and the other defences on the East bank. The suddeness of the attack took the Germans completely by surprise. Lt Wood's men were soon over the wire and using grenades and stens had cleared the pill box and trenches. A few Germans escaped and were soon running off in a Northerly direction.

The third platoon under Lt R.A.A. SMITH crossed the bridge some five minutes after Lt Brotheridge and reinforced the position on the far bank.

The two platoons which had landed near the river bridge met little opposition and had soon secured their objective.

Meanwhile the sappers had been examining both bridges for demolition charges. It was found that although the bridges had been prepared for demolition the charges had not been placed. It was later learnt that these charges were kept in a house near the canal bridge.

Maj Howard's small force then consolidated their position forming a compact bridgehead West of the canal bridge and East of the river bridge. Here they waited for the arrival of 7 Parachute Battalion who were to relieve them and enlarge the bridgehead to the West.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: 5 Parachute Brigade: operations in Normandy 1944 June - Sept

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