mardi 16 avril 2013

It is not yet midnight when the six “Horsa” gliders, towed by Halifax Bombers, prepared to send off the very first of the 2 million men who for two months were going to sweep across the Normandy coast.

The mission's order, signed by General Gale commanding the 6th Airborne division, is to "take intact the two bridges over the river Orne and the Caen Canal”, in Ranville and Bénouville. The taking of these two bridges, which would be the operation "Coup de Main", rests essentially on the surprise effect, the rapidity of execution and the determination to win. 

They have to expect a counterattack and hold out until relief comes”.  The goal of this mission was to ensure, in capturing the bridges, that the eastern flank of the invasion would be protected because the only place between Ouistreham and Caen to cross the river Orne and the Caen Canal was situated between the towns of Ranville and Bénouville. These two towns were, with the taking of the Merville battery and the destruction of the bridges over the river Dives, the main objectives of the British 6th Airborne Division.  

In those improbable wood and paper constructions, the pilots of the six Horsas were going to try to land as close as possible to the bridges of the river Orne and the Caen Canal right under the Germans' noses. On this moonlit night, they were going to be the very first freedom fighters.  

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