Mémorial Pegasus

Parking

There is a large free car park onsite next to the museum, and a public car park opposite.

Toilets

There are well-maintained toilets within the museum.

Gift Shop

There is a good gift shop selling a good variety of items. Some items seem unique to this particular museum.

Situated on the strip of land between the River Orne and Caen Canal, the Mémorial Pegasus is a fantastic museum that sits just a few hundred feet from where Staff-Sergeants Jim Walwork, Oliver Boland and Geoff Barkway expertly landed their Horsa gliders with the coup de main party of the 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

An incredible amount of time and thought has gone into the Mémorial Pegasus, even down to the shape of the roof which, when viewed from outside, resembles the winged insignia of the Parachute Regiment. It is situated about 100 metres from the site of the original bridge, and in its grounds can be found numerous vehicles and artillery pieces, a unique full-sized replica Horsa Glider as well as, most importantly, the original Pegasus Bridge itself. Many veterans, historians and even locals were and still are unhappy that the original Pegasus Bridge was removed from its functioning role spanning the Caen Canal back in 1993. Taking a more pragmatic view, if the ultimate result was the creation of the museum we have today then perhaps it was a price worth paying.

The original Airborne Forces Museum in Bénouville opened in 1974 - but due to problems with its lease had to close in 1997. Soon thereafter a campaign was launched to fund construction of a new museum. The site of the present museum was eventually chosen, and in 1999 the symbolic payment of one franc was made to purchase the original bridge, which had remained on waste ground sits its removal six years earlier. The new museum was inaugurated on 4th June 2000 by HRH the Prince of Wales.

Inside the museum is a treasure trove of uniforms, documents, weapons and photographs with plenty to read. The cabinets are well lit making photographing the contents no trouble at all. There are a wide range of exhibits on display, from a set of Bill Millin's bagpipes to Major Howard's D-Day beret. Guided tours can be taken, or visitors can explore at their own pace. If that's what you decide to do, it is certainly worth tagging along with one of the groups as a msueum guide uses the illuminated relief map explain the details of the operation to capture the bridges.

Outside, the museum grounds are obviously dominated by the 1934 bascule-type bridge that spanned the Caen Canal in 1944 - complete with bullet and shrapnel marks. Visitors can walk out onto the bridge, and a plaque marks the spot where Lieutenant Herbert Denham Brotheridge fell, the first allied casualty of the invasion. In addition to the bridge, some of the other items on display include an M3 half track, a full-sized replica of a Horsa glider and a section of baily bridge. There are several memorials and monuments, including a fabulous bronze depiction of Brigadier James Hill D.S.O. M.C., founder of the Parachute Regiment.

Being situated so close to the ferry port and just off the main route to Paris, this museum is within easy reach even if you are just passing through Normandy.

The Mémorial Pegasus is fantastic, and in much the same way that Saint Mere Eglise becomes a hive of activity every June, so does the small town of Benouville and area around the museum.

As well as visiting the museum itself, take some time to walk across the road to the fields where three of the four Horsa gliders landed - just meters from their target - shortly after midnight on 5/6th June.

Walk across the new, perhaps now I should say "replacement", bridge and visit Café Gondre - although we've always got the impression that unless you're a bona-fide Parachute Regiment veteran then they really don't have much interest in serving you!




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