Published by Sabrestorm, available from Casemate Publishers
Neil Barber’s guide of the sites around Pegasus Bridge is a gem. A fifty-two page long, 4” x 5.7” paperback, the book will truly fit in all except the smallest pockets but comes packed with graphics and black and white photographs. The book lays out a short walking tour that leads interested explorers to nine sites in the vicinity of the famous Normandy bridge. It provides written directions, simple maps, and a description of why each site is important to the story of Pegasus Bridge. Barber additionally includes supplemental information about other sites in the vicinity of the Bridge, such as the excellent Memorial Pegasus Museum.
Barber begins with a brief description of why the British airborne mission to seize bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River as part of the D-Day invasion of Europe on the night of 5-6 June 1944. He makes the strategic value of the bridges clear to the reader in a very distinct summary stressing the bridges’ importance in linking the British and Commonwealth parachute and glider troops with amphibious assaults landing at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. He also stresses that the airborne troops played an important role in protecting the beaches from German counterattacks.
Barber explains that planners tasked British glider-borne infantry to take the bridges in a coup-de-main in order to ensure they remained intact for later use. He starts the tour at the bust of Major John Howard, who led the assault and uses this opportunity to explain the tactical details of the assault plan. From there, the tour follows the action of what actually occurred during the attack, with stops at points of interest on both sides of the canal. Barber uses the words of the men who fought attacked the bridge at multiple sites, providing the reader with a sense of immediacy regarding the battle, as well as a human dimension.
The book is very well designed and laid out. It contains only the information necessary to make sense of the action that took place during the fight for the bridge and its subsequent defense during D-Day. The choice to keep it free of additional detail contributes to its compact appearance. Anyone choosing to use the book for a walking tour will more than likely be pleased with the choice for the will be unencumbered by a large guide, yet fully informed of the layout of the area and the pertinent details of the battle. Pegasus Bridge: A Pocket Guide is a worthy addition to the library of any D-Day student and highly recommended as part of any Normandy visitor’s packing list.
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