Hold Until Relieved 6 June 1944

After watching The Longest Day and the capturing of ‘Pegasus’ bridge at the Caen canal (actually there were two bridges, the other was over the Orne river nearby) by a Coup de Main force of glider troops from the British Airborne, I was inspired to do a bridge scene, captured and held by the 6th Airborne during the Normandy invasion.

The bridge I scratch built isn’t the same bridge captured at the Caen canal although it could have depicted the many bridges that were found in that area. The title I used was the mission objective in the movie of Major Howard of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire light infantry regiment ‘Hold Until Relieved’ who were given the task to make the daring capture by 6 gliders. The following is an account of what happened that night:

On the night of 5/6 June 1944, a force of 181 men, led by Major John Howard, landed in 6 Horsa gliders to capture Pegasus Bridge, and also "Horsa Bridge", a few hundred yards to the east, over the Orne River. The force included elements of B and D Companies, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, a platoon of B Company, Royal Engineers, and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment. The object of this action was to prevent German armour from crossing the bridges and attacking the eastern flank of the landings at Sword Beach.

Five of the Ox and Bucks's gliders landed 40 yards from their objectives at 16 minutes past midnight. The attackers poured out of their battered gliders, completely surprising the German defenders, and took the bridges within 10 minutes. They lost two men in the process, Lieutenant Denholm Brotheridge and Lance-Corporal Fred Greenhalgh.

Lieutenant Brotheridge thus became the first member of the invading Allied armies to die in combat on D-Day.

One glider, assigned to the capture of Horsa Bridge, landed at the bridge over the River Dives, some 7 miles off. Most of the soldiers in this glider moved through German lines towards the village of Ranville where they eventually rejoined the British forces. The Ox & Bucks were reinforced half-an-hour after the landings by 7th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment and linked up with the beach landing forces with the arrival of Lord Lovat 's Commandos.

My fellow modeler friends have since fondly called this dio the ‘Pegasus Bridge’ dio.

I added a 2cm Flak 38 gun to my bridge from Tamiya which is still an excellent kit. Another was put at the base of the end of the bridge. Most of the figures were modified from Tamiya and Dragon figures. The helmets with hessian camo were sliced from Italerei vinyl 1/32nd figures. There are ten stenguns modified to Mark IV’s with added pistol grips and wooden butt storks. The PIAT was scratchbuilt before the Dragon British Airborne kit came out.The jeeps were from Italerei.

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All paratroop rifles were Lee Enfields Mark IV’s except for the sniper who prefers the earlier Lee Enfield. Paints were a mixture of Tamiya acrylics and Humbrol enamels. Sand bags were made from milliput. The bridge was scratchbuilt entirely from Evergreen I-beams, rods, ladders and sheets of various thickness. The rivet detail was tiny droplets of white glue. Nuts and bolts are from Verlinden. Roof tiles were made from thick card. The cobble stone road is compact foam got from some railroad products.

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I enjoyed doing this dio ten years ago and I remember it took me many months to complete. I hope you enjoy looking at as I do too …everyday.

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