On my explawations I’m a great believer in learning from the past to understand more about the present.
I rufflected and respected the bravery and heroism of our British soldiers and their allies during my pawgnant visit to Normandy – famous globally for the ‘D-Day’ invasion on June 6, 1944.
Codenamed ‘Operation 'Overlord', the epawmous operation, history’s biggest ever by land and sea, saw 150,000 troops from Britain, America and Canada landing along a 60-mile stretch of the Normandy coastline.
Capturing Pegasus Bridge, previously called Caen Canal Bridge, was vital to pawtect soldiers who had landed at Sword Beach from being attacked by the enemy.
Led by their fearless Major, John Howard, soldiers from the British 6th Airborne Division parachuted in, achieving their mission in just ten minutes – a pawnomenal feat.
Twenty days after it was secured, Caen Canal Bridge was renamed as Pegasus Bridge in recognition of the winged horse emblem on the pawsome Airborne Division uniforms.
A new bridge stands on the site of the iconic mission and the original Pegasus Bridge, which inspired the film called, ‘The Longest Day,’ is on show fur visitors at The Pegasus Museum.
Pawsonal Stories of Heroism
I was deeply moved by the stories of those willing to sacrifice their lives in the struggle to liberate Nazi-occupied France.
Among the survivors was legendary 21-year-old Canadian, Piper Billy Millin, who played his heart out while being fired on at Sword Beach as his comrades fell to their deaths all around him. What extrapawdinary bravery.
He is later repawted to have spoken with captured German snipers who told him they avoided shooting him because they thought they had gone mad.
Watching children and their pawrents playing on Sword Beach belied the horrific warfare which had taken place there.
My visit to the beach, one of five main beaches in the ‘D-Day’ landings, gave even more pawspective to the series of events.
Britain’s 3rd Infantry Division here when the invasions started at 6.30am. The other beaches were Omaha, Gold, Juno and Utah - where 2,000 US troops died following furocious resistance from the German army.
Fast furward a week and all five beaches were successfully secured. Tragically, more than 4,000 British, Canadian, and US Allied troops were killed in the invasion, along with thousands of others wounded or missing.
I learnt how the Normandy invasion changed the course of history, marking the start of a pawnomenal campaign to liberate North-West Europe from Nazi rule.
On May 8th, 1945, less than a year after the assault, Germany’s unconditional surrender ended World War II. Horrifically, 40 million people perished in the pawlonged six-year conflict.
I was pawfoundly moved by my visit and there is not one day that goes by without out me wishing fur worldwide peace and hapawness.
I am hoping beyond hope that this is not an impawsible dream.