Brave glider pilots honoured in special D-Day ceremony
As the country remembered this week those who helped turn the tide of the Second World War, a special ceremony was held for a remarkable regiment.
The Glider Pilot Regiment helped make D-Day possible as they did the almost unthinkable - flying over Nazi occupied France in aircraft with no engines.
Six crews of brave pilots were tasked with landing troops by the Caen Canal Bridge (later christened Pegasus Bridge) and Ranville Bridge (Horsa Bridge), allowing Allied forces to capture the strategically pivotal points to stop re-inforcements reaching the beaches.
Jane Barkway-Harney’s father Geoff was one of the pilots who flew a 67 ft Horsa glider across the English Channel, towed by a Stirling bomber, in the early hours of June 6, 1944.
He, along with co-pilot Peter Boyle, was tasked with landing the unpowered plane, carrying 28 troops, on a tiny strip of land beside the Caen Canal
Jane, from Horsham, is now chair of The Glider Pilot Regiment Society and travelled to France for a special ceremony honouring those who took part in the brave operation.
She said: “This 74th anniversary has been a wonderful but emotional experience.
“Sadly there have been less veterans able to join the commemorations but this is why it is more important for us to be here to remember.”
As well as the ceremony an oak tree was planted to remember all those who took part in the capturing of Pegasus Bridge.
Oak was used in the construction of the six gliders involved in the operation and Glider Pilot veteran Laurie Weeden was on hand to help plant the tree.
Jane said: “The Glider Pilot Regiment Society planted an oak tree in the grounds of the museum in memory of all who served with the regiment. We were honoured to have S/Sgt Laurie Weeden Glider Pilot on D-day to help plant it. Laurie landed in Normandy in 1944 on his 22nd birthday.
“We have attended many services at various cemeteries and memorials to lay a wreath in memory of those we have lost. We must never forget.”
The Glider Pilot Regiment Society aims to help to remember those who served in the regiment.
For more visit www.gliderpilotregiment.org.uk