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Sunday, 4 June, 2000, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Prince honours D-Day vanguard
Pegasus Bridge
The Pegasus Bridge at it's new resting place
Prince Charles has paid tribute to the Allied forces who took part in the D-Day invasion during a visit to a new museum in Normandy.

The Pegasus Bridge memorial is dedicated to the men of the British 6th Airborne Division who were the first land on D-Day, swooping in silently by glider and parachute just after midnight on 6 June, 1944 to capture the vital crossing.

The bridge - named after the mythical winged horse emblem of the airborne force - was the target in what became one of the Allies' most celebrated engagements and now forms part of the memorial site.

Although the original girder bridge was scrapped in 1993, it was restored and moved to the memorial site following pressure from veterans.

Pegasus museum
The new museum is designed to resemble the wings of a glider

Wearing combat gear and the red beret of the Parachute Regiment, of which he is Colonel-in-Chief, the Prince of Wales met veterans of the D-Day landing.

He said: "It is a great pleasure to be back in Normandy and a particular joy to be here at the site of one of the 6th Airborne Division's most famous actions.

"Names like Pegasus Bridge still catch the attention of the British people."

The daring pinpoint raid by Major John Howard's company of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was "one of the most remarkable episodes of the war", he said.

"I am of course delighted that the original Pegasus Bridge has, at last, found a permanent home.

'Team effort'

"But we must, none of us, forget that the operation by the 6th Airborne Division to seize, and then hold - for three months, against fierce opposition - this vital eastern flank of Operation Overlord was more than just a morning's work.

"It was a hard, unglamorous action that cost thousands of lives. "It was a team effort - glider pilots, parachutists, commandos, sappers, gunners and infanteers."

The Prince thanked the authorities in Normandy for their efforts in restoring the bridge and building the museum.

He then toured the museum's exhibits, which included the red beret worn on D-Day by Maj Howard, who died last year.

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See also:

04 Jun 00 | UK
The Longest Day
02 Jun 00 | UK
Dunkirk's heroes return
02 Jun 00 | UK
Little Ships in pictures
02 Jun 00 | Dunkirk
Dunkirk: The propaganda war
15 May 00 | UK
Dunkirk: Lest we forget
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