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The BBC's James Coomarasamy
"The second battle for the bridge is finally over"
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The BBC's James Coomarasamy speaks to Wally Parr
"This is an emotional time"
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Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 11:06 GMT
Museum tribute for D-Day bridge

Pegasus Bridge The bridge, now rebuilt, is a popular tourist attraction

The site of one of the most famous battles of World War II is being installed as the centrepiece of a new museum.

The Pegasus Bridge in Normandy, France, has been sitting in a lorry park since it was dismantled in 1993.

But the bridge is to be resurrected after British veterans' associations pushed for it to be given a fitting memorial.

Pegasus Bridge was the site of the first allied action on D-Day.

pegasus bridge The bridge has been left to rust
By holding the bridge the Allies were able to protect the Normandy beaches from possible German counter attacks.

In a daring raid, British and Canadian airmen from the Sixth Airborne Division swooped down in gliders and seized the strategically important structure.

In 1993 the bridge, which had become a popular tourist attraction, was dismantled and replaced with a replica, designed to withstand the stress of modern day traffic.

But arguments have raged about the fate of the original, with some veterans calling for it to be moved to the UK.

Colonel Neville Jackson of Airborne Assault Normandy Trust said: "It's been a long struggle but there has always been optimism, particularly among airborne forces in England.

"And typical of airborne forces we never accept defeat.

"We have finally got what we wanted. It's been a struggle but it has been worth waiting for."


On Wednesday the 130ft-long iron structure was being towed half a mile to its new resting place.

The new museum, which is located at the bridge's original site, is dedicated to the airborne division's work.

It will be officially opened by the Prince of Wales at the beginning of June.

Museum curator Marc Jacquinot said: "All the veterans from the Sixth Airborne division are heroes in this small village.

"They were the people who liberated this part of the country in 1944.

"The French civilian people who were living here at that time will never forget them."

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See also:
06 Jun 99 |  UK
D-Day veterans remember 55 years on
06 May 99 |  UK
D-Day hero dies

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