Around 11pm on 5 June 1944, six Halifax aircraft took off from RAF Tarrant Rushton, each towing a Horsa glider. On board these Horsas were British troops of 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (part of 6th Airborne Division). Little more than an hour later, men from these gliders seized the two bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne, on the eastern flank of the Allied landings in Normandy – later known as Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge respectively. They were the first Allied troops to land in Normandy.
This vital operation seized control of the two bridges, thus preventing the Germans from attacking the beach landings in the flank, and enabling the Allies to mount future attacks in that direction.
Other glider-borne troops from 6th Airborne Division also left from Tarrant Rushton to land on D-Day, including Tetrach light tanks carried in the larger Hamilcar gliders.
Besides its role on D-Day, over a longer period RAF Tarrant Rushton was also used for clandestine flights to drop supplies to the French Resistance. Armed with weapons supplied in this way, the Resistance were able to hamper the German war effort, thus directing aiding the advance of the Allied armies after D-Day.
|Address||Tarrant Rushton, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11, UK|
|Site Ownership and Access Information||Private land - former airfield site has now reverted to farmland.|
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