The pictures don't quite line up, but you get the idea - it's a bridge!
To get here we drove past Sword Beach in the pouring rain, so we didn't get any pictures of it... It was very much like Juno from what we could see. We also missed seeing a whale skeleton in Luc-sur-Mer - they had a whale beach itself there in 1885 and they keep the skeleton in the town square.... There are also fossils all over a beach between Luc-sur-Mer and Lion-sur-Mer and the rain kept us from stopping there as well....
It was still pouring when we arrived at the Pegasus Memorial and Bridge, but we were lucky enough to get a break in the rain to see the parts of the museum that are outdoors!
Pegasus Bridge (known as the Benouville Bridge before then) was the strategic point on the east end of the landing beaches - Allied control of it would keep the Germans from crossing the river between Caen and the sea and coming at the Allies from the flank. The paratroopers were to keep this bridge intact though so the Allies could use it later to expand their area. Like Ste-Mere-Eglise in the west, this mission started just after midnight but with the British paratroopers.
This airborne group arrived not by parachute, but by glider. They were towed in to within a few kilometers of the bridge and then set alight to glide the rest of the way, silently arriving at the bridge to surprise the Germans. The 6 gliders carried about 150 men to the site and 3 of the gliders were able to land within 40 meters of the bridge! This group quickly surprised the Germans and took the bridge! They had to fight bravely for over 12 hours to keep the bridge from falling back to the Germans while they waited for their reinforcements to arrive (and they came by the sound of bagpipes played by Bill Millin according to all the reports...) but again the Allies were successful at a strategic point of the battle.
The name of the bridge changed after the battles - the British 6th Airborne division that came and took the bridge had the Pegasus on their shoulder emblem, so that is where the name comes from!
While it rained we walked around inside and watched the film - here is a model of the Horsa glider the paratroopers arrived on that day.
And here is some equipment
This really cool device was used by the paratroopers to practice balancing their gliders! Every person and piece of equipment had to remain in balance for the glider to work properly, so practice, practice, practice!
The Pegasus Bridge is a distinct subtype of a bascule bridge and uses a rack and pinion mechanism to maintain support and alignment when the bridge deck raises and lowers.
The museum had lots of information about another type of bridge and was just another example of the engineering marvel that came out of this operation - The Bailey Bridge
Here is a Bailey Bridge and some of it's unassembled pieces as well.
A group of about 10 men could assemble a 25 meter bridge in about 37 minutes according to a sign we read. That's amazing!
A Horsa glider like those that would have been used to bring the paratroopers in for this mission.
These two shots are of one of the actual Horsa gliders used to take the Pegasus Bridge!
What a cool Erector Set Pegasus Bridge!
The bridge taken in 1944 was used up until 1994, when it was replaced with this one and the original went just next door to the museum. As we left the museum we got to see the current Pegasus Bridge (they still call it that!) in actual over the River Orne.
This museum was one of our favorites - it held a lot of interesting and diverse bits of information and stood out from many of the others - we think it is a must see if you come to Normandy!