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Historic bridge was finishing point

IN the early hours of 6 June 1944 six Horsa gliders took off from Tarrant Rushton Airfield in Dorset. Aboard were 186 men from ‘D’ Company, 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. The objective was to capture intact two road bridges in Normandy across the River Orne and the Caen Canal.

Through what was later described as the ‘most outstanding flying achievement of the war’, the gliders delivered the company to their objective. After a brief exchange of fire, both bridges were captured and then defended against tank, gunboat and infantry counterattacks, until relief arrived. The Caen Canal bridge was subsequently renamed Pegasus Bridge after the British Airborne forces.

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of this incredible achievement and to honour those men who spearheaded the entire invasion of Europe, Anthony Priest from TD Group in Silverstone took part in a unique event called Run to Pegasus, a run of 75 miles over a 24-hour period.

On 4 June 2019 as part of a group of 186 sponsored runners Anthony set off from the site of Tarrant Rushton Airfield in Dorset and made his way through the New Forest and down to Portsmouth docks, running 62 miles. Once in Portsmouth, he caught a ferry to Normandy, before running the three miles along the Caen Canal towpath to Pegasus Bridge, arriving at this iconic spot early morning on 6 June, exactly 75 years since the now legendary assault.

Anthony said: “Later the same day I made my way to the site of another bridge, 10 miles away where The Veterans Charity unveiled a plaque dedicated to the men of 22 Platoon who landed there in number 4 glider, which went off course. The 30 men of 22 Platoon had a difficult time trying to reach their objective of the Orne River Bridge. They faced intense enemy resistance and flooded fields for almost the whole 10-mile journey back to rendezvous with their comrades.

“I met some fantastic individuals on the run. Its fair to say I was broken afterwards, and it took me a few days to recover.”

All the money raised goes to The Veterans Charity. This provides immediate needs support to hundreds of veterans every year. They supply essential items such as groceries, clothing, household goods like kitchenware and single appliances and even smartphones to aid communication. During the last three years alone, they have provided essential items to more than 1,100 veterans and given guidance and advice to many more.

Anthony added: “It was gruelling, painful and exhausting. But to be at that spot 75 years to the day was incredible. Would I do it again? Of course!”

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