This is a fascinating museum, telling the story of the action around the Orne bridges, especially by 6th Airborne Division on 5/6 June 1944.
The Memorial Pegasus is dedicated to the men of 6th British Airborne Division, “the Red Berets”. The 180 troops of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, commanded by Major John Howard, had the task of capturing the Bénouville bridges intact. They flew in by Horsa gliders and pulled off one of the most amazing triumphs of D-Day in less than ten minutes.
On 26th June 1944 the bridge was renamed Pegasus bridge, after the winged horse which was the emblem worn on the sleeves of the men of the airborne division.
There is a guided tour, given by some very knowledgeable guides. There is also a film narrated by Prince Charles.
In the museum grounds can be found the original Pegasus bridge alongside a replica Horsa glider.
Well worth that visit and is surely a "Must See" of any tour of D-Day Normandy.
An entrance fee is payable.
Piper Bill Millin piped Brigadier Lord Lovat as he crossed the Bridge at Benouville following the successful landing of the Horsa Gliders.
Born in 1922, in November 2009 the old soldier received a delegation of French visitors from Colleville-Montgomery at the care home wher he lives in Dorset following a stroke.
They brought him the news that a statue is be erected in his honour in their town.
Bill Millin died on August 17th 2010.
Betwen June and September a Son & Lumiere production takes place every eveing in the semi-amphitheatre on the bank of the canal, seen in the background of the photo.
We saw it in the year of the 50th Anniversary of D-Day when it continued into October and the evenings were darker
Although then, back in 1994, it struck me as amateurish in comparison with some of the rousing batles I had seen enacted in Athens and at English castles it was an eerily fascinating telling of the famous history of the bridge.
I have no doubt some improvements in sound recording and other details will by now have been made and recommend it if you have the opportunity to see it.
This is a worthy memorial to the exploits of all those who participated in the taking of Pegasus Bridge and dedicated to the men of the 6th British Airborne Division.
Among those participants was the young Scottish actor, Richard Todd. Many years later he took the role of Major Howard in the film "The Longest Day". The Major was not, apparently, impressed with the film which did not, he felt, accord with the reality in his memory. .
No detail of the planning or operation is overlooked in the Museum.
The technical know-how and, just as crucial the element of surprise, employed in this operation (and in the Mulberry Harbours at Arrowmanches) must compare with the cunning of the Trojan Horse and retain a place in miltary history.
All the exhibits are clearly described and displayed to effect both in the museum and in the spacious grounds and outer buildings.
This is not a place to dash in and out of on an organised tour. You could spend a whole day here and still have to skip some of the sad and moving objects displayed
There is a shop selling Books and souvenirs
Admission 6 euros
Open 09.30 - 18.30 1st April - 30th September
Feb & March and Oct. & Nov. Open 10.00 - 1300 and 1400 to 1700.
Closed 1st December - 31st January
The original bridge that stood close to where the gliders landed in June 1944 was replaced in 1994 becaise it was no longer "fit for purpose". Heavier, longer and higher lorries could not use it and traffic up and down the canal required more width.
The old bridge is preserved as an historical exhibit in the Pegasus Memorial Museum. It gave me quite a strange feeling to walk over it.
Close your eyes and imagine that June night as the first of the Allied invaders crossed the bridge to the sound of Privaye Bill Millin's bagpipes.
The old structure which still seems solid enough but look carefully and you will see signs of the artillery fire that caught it as the allies made the crossing.
Just a little way down the road from the Memorial Museum is one of the cemeteries of the Commonwealth Graves Commisssion.
Ranville Cemetery holds over 2000 fatalities from the action in this area that followed the D-Day Landings.
One very interesting spot at the new Pegasus bridge is the famous Cafe Gondree.
The first family in France to be liberated.
The cafe was at the other end of the bridge where the gliders carrying the paratroopers landed and so quickly become a first aid post. It is still owned by Arlette, the daughter of Madame Gondree, who was actually in the building on that night of 5/6 June 1944.
This is well worth the stop of for a quick spot of refreshment and a look around at the memorabilia inside.
It is said that her father dug up a bottle of champagne, which he had been hiding from the Germans, to celebrate liberation.
Across the new Pegasus bridge is the exact spot of where the Horsa gliders actually landed on the night of the 5th June 1944. This gives you a real idea, of just what a brilliant bit of flying the glider pilots did that night. A brave piece of flying.
You'll also find here a bronze bust of Major John Howard, who led the 2nd (Airborne) Battalion Ox and Bucks, capturing the bridge intact. In the low ground below are three lectern like glider markers marking the exact spots of the landings.
The first house of France to be liberated in June 44 is still a bar serving refreshments and selling postcards. Inside, visitors can see a small exhibition.
Within a walking distance is the Château of Bénouville which can be visited specially during exhibitions.
Next to the famous Pegasus Bridge is this museum which retraces the history of the first liberated area in France in June 44.
Closed in December and January.