THE VC MEMORIAL
On the 6th June 2009, the 65th anniversary of D-Day, we unveiled a unique and lasting memorial at Pegasus Bridge in Normandy, the scene of the first combat operation of D-Day and arguably one of the most vital objectives of that day.
The memorial is dedicated to the men of the 'Coup de Main' group who were tasked with seizing two vital bridges near the village of Benouville. This group was made up mostly of men from 2nd battalion (D Coy and B Coy) Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry together with 30 Royal Engineers, 3 medics and a Liaisons Officer from The Parachute Regiment as well as 12 pilots from the Glider Pilot Regiment.
Their task was to land in six Horsa Gliders and seize the two bridges intact. The missions was dubbed "a suicide mission which might just work" and despite the overwhelming odds against them, the group seized both bridges in under ten minutes!
Had this vital operation been unsuccesful, D-Day would have been a very different story!
LSjt Tich Rayner about to unveil the plynth for no.4 glider which he was on.
An early mock up of how the memorial would look.
The 6 stones pieces each way 400kgs and are cut from Nimes Stone. They were prepared by a local stonemason in Caen.
All 2400 characters were engraved entirely by hand by one man. It took almost 3 months!
The name of EVERY man involved in the operation is shown on the stones including the RAF pilots who flew the Halifax Bombers which towed the gliders to their objective.
General Sir Robert Pascoe, President of The Veterans Charity, inspects the stones and the runners before the unveiling ceremony.
Welcome and thank you speeches were made by the Director of Memorial Pegasus Museum, our CEO and General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, who led the unveiling.
Almost 1000 people attended the unveiling ceremony including many relatives of the Coup de Main.
We were deligthed to have four Veterans from the operation attending to help unveil the memorial stones.
The Veterans Charity Memorial to the Coup de Main sits proudly next to the original Pegasus Bridge in the grounds of the superb Memorial Pegasus Museum in Ranville, Normandy.
The memorial cost £75,000 to create. This money was raised by an amazing group of sponsored runners who took part in the RUN TO PEGASUS 4th-6th June 2009.
Over £250,000 was raised in total and excess funds were donated to charities which provide support to Veterans and Service Personnel of all generations.