Benouville

×HISTORICAL FACTS

The “Coup de Main” Operation
Six glider aircraft, which had taken off at 2300 hours on 5th June, were towed across the Channel and released above the town of Cabourg. Transported in the gliders were 180 men commanded by Major John Howard (D Company, 2nd Battalion of 6th Airlanding Brigade). The aircraft landed to the west of the River Orne at 0016 hours. One soldier from the company was killed and several were wounded. Gliders N°s 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 landed with great precision by the Ranville and Bénouville Bridges but, N° 4 glider landed 13kms from its objective near the Dives at Périers-en-Auge. This was the start of the “Coup de Main” Operation.
The assault on the Bénouville Bridge began at 0020 hours. The German sentries were totally surprised but, during the attack, Lieutenant Brotheridge was mortally wounded in the neck. He was almost certainly the first British soldier killed on D-Day. The explosive charges which were thought to have been placed on the bridge were absent and were later found by Lieutenant Smith’s platoon near the bridge.
At Ranville, the undefended swing bridge, 400 metres from the Bénouville Bridge, was taken by two other sections of the Ox and Bucks which had landed in gliders N°s 5 and 6. In the absence of Captain Priday who should have commanded the attack, but had landed in the lost N°4 glider, the assault was led by Lieutenant Fox’s platoon reinforced by Lieutenant Sweeney’s platoon. Casualties sustained in the “Coup de Main” operation were 2 killed and 14 wounded. After having sent the coded signal “Ham and Jam”, Howard prepared the defenses and waited for the arrival of the reinforcements from 7th Parachute Battalion which was due to land at 0050 hours.

The Junction between the Airborne Forces and the Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade
The 1st Special Service Brigade, after having landed in several waves on Sword Beach, advanced, crossing Colleville and headed on towards Saint-Aubin-d’Arquenay.
The Anglo-French N°4 Commando, meanwhile, was detached from the brigade to liberate Ouistreham. The fields crossed by the brigade were full of 6th Airborne gliders and under isolated German gunfire. The troops arrived at the swing bridge, led by bagpiper Bill Millin, to forewarn the paras of the arrival of the commandos. The junction was finally made at midday at the Café Gondrée where Major Howard and Lord Lovat greeted each other. The commando force then continued its advance crossing Pegasus Bridge under enemy fire, advancing further into the bridge head towards Ranville and Amfreville.

+PHOTO GALLERIES