In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, a small detachment of British airborne troops stormed the German defense forces and paved the way for the Allied invasion of Europe. Pegasus Bridge was the first engagement of D-Day, the turning point of World War II. This gripping account of it by acclaimed author Stephen Ambrose brings to life a daring mission so crucial that, had it been unsuccessful, the entire Normandy invasion might have failed. Ambrose traces each step of the preparations over many months to the minute-by-minute excitement of the hand-to-hand confrontations on the bridge. This is a story of heroism and cowardice, kindness and brutality -- the stuff of all great adventures.
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This book is very a good book, it involves the nice "Brotherhood'ness" of band of brothers, and it was written by the same Author. It also gives a lot of detail on where these brave soldiers are now. This book is an amazing book and I HIGHLY recomend it to any one who enjoys reading about the second world war or just enjoy's the Band Of Brothers shows/books.more
Stephen E. Ambrose is a master storyteller. He makes it so easy, interviewing people then write about them. Imagine the editing works, placing one story after another, in the way that the readers would better understand and imagine. Pegasus Bridge is not as special as Citizen Soldiers or Band of Brothers (BoB), but it still delivers.The story is about a gliderborne unit of the British Ox and Bucks Light Infantry Regiment, 6th Airborne Division, commanded by Major John Howard, who captured two bridges (one rechristened Pegasus) between Bénouville and Ranville, Normany, and held them until reinforcements came. This is claimed to be the first assault by the Allies as well as the first combat engagements between the opposing parties in Normandy during D-Day. The troops were the first who liberated a French home (whose owners were spies working for the Resistance) and one of its platoon leaders was the first casualty from the Allies side in D-Day. Yes, Howard’s D Company indeed scored many ‘firsts’.I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when I read the first pages of the book. I thought I was going a read a book about paratroopers. Blame my silly infatuation on paras due to BoB. I was a bit indoctrinated as well by the impression in BoB that gliderborne troopers were not as qualified and disciplined as the paras. Well, that is not the case with Howard’s men. It surely took lots of courage to surrender your fate on a Horsa whose movement and bearing were not entirely up to your own pilot, but the bomber towing your glider. Paras are more mobile because they have their own chutes.Along with the glider pilots, the sappers, the paras, Howard and his troopers managed to surprise the Germans who, just like what happened during the D-Day sea invasion, showed a very lousy and ineffective chain of command and communication. It sometimes frustrates me (seriously) to read their ridiculous mistakes in D-Day (thanks to the Fuhrer) whereas they had legendary field marshals like Rommel and Von Rundstedt to lead.This feat was very influential to the outcome of D-Day, since it blocked the way of a strong panzer division, whose counterattack could destroy the advancing seaborne invaders.The training part of the book was a bit boring unfortunately. [Ambrose used the same formula with BoB and his other book Wild Blue, i.e. giving many details about the training phase:] I’d like to read more about the action part but it only covers half of the book. I noted that Howard’s D Company was the toughest SOBs in the whole airborne division due to their fanaticism over sports and physical endeavors, but that’s about the only interesting fact I found. More detailed actions, please.Apparently, this story appeared a bit in the movie version of The Longest Day. Hell, I dislike the movie so much I can not remember anything (but the book is super excellent, mind you). The actor who played John Howard was in fact a part of the operation, a member of the 7th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment who reinforced the British troops in the area.Anyway, this is still recommended for military buffs, especially the ones who want some light reading or curious about events that are not (presumably) widely covered by other battle accounts.more
This is vintage Stephen Ambrose storytelling from the days before he became a cottage industry and became caught up in arguments over who wrote what and when. It is also the rarely told story of a single company sized unit in a single important combat, specifically D Company (or Coy as the Brits often say) of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Regiment here identified as "the Oxs and Bucks."The regiment was assigned the role of glider-borne infantry as part of Britain's 6th Airborne Division. Their mission on D-Day, the 6th of June in 1944, was to seize and hold two bridges - one over the Orne River and the other across the adjacent canal. These waterways marked the left flank of the British landing beaches on D-Day and therefore the left flank of the entire Normandy invasion force. It was considered critical that these two bridges be captured intact and held in order to deny them to the use of German tank units in the vicinity and to preserve them for the eventual use of the Allied breakout from the initial beachhead. In the words of John Wayne as the American airborne's General Gavin - this mission was strategic.Ambrose tells the story not just of the battle but of the preparations for the battle being made by both sides for some two years before D-Day. While his focus is primarily upon D Company and its commander, Major John Howard, through good research and a little luck he is also able to include in his narrative the viewpoint and experiences of the German troops and of the local French Resistance members in the vicinity of the bridge.In part because they have long since disappeared from warfare, the glider troops do not seem to get the full share of credit they deserve. As is cited in a number of books on the subject, including this one, those paratroopers who found themselves riding the gliders came away unanimously prefering to parachute and some arguing that the glider troops weren't paid enough. Neither the glider troops nor the glider pilots wore parachutes, reflecting a bond between the cockpit crew and their passengers that whatever happened they were all in this venture together. Losses among the glider troops were high and often resulted from midflight failures of their aircraft or friendly fire from anti-aircraft guns on Allied ships or ground units that in the heat of combat failed to recall their orders or to recognize the aircraft as friendly. And then, of course, there were the losses in combat with the Germans. Ambrose does an excellent job in the story of this one company of setting out the arguments for using gliders and the details of how to use them successfully. This is a history, a biography and memoir, and almost a textbook on glider operations.more
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