6th Airborne Division

The War Illustrated, Volume 10, No. 249, Page 602, January 3, 1947.

Colours: Pale blue Pegasus on maroon

The badge of this formation is the same as that of the 1st Airborne Division – Bellerophon astride Pegasus. The 6th Division was formed in May 1943 and placed under the command of Major-General R. N. Gale, D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C. It was trained and equipped to play an important part in the invasion of Europe, its task being to cover the left flank of the British Army on the Orne. The first landings, by gliders and parachute troops, were made in Normandy in the early hours of June 6, 1944, the bridges over the Orne and Orne Canal being speedily captured.

The swing-bridge at Bénouville has been renamed Pegasus Bridge in recognition of the gallantry of the airborne troops. Units which were to have relieved the Division became absorbed in the heavy fighting around Caen, and the 6th remained continuously engaged for more than two months. From August 17, 1944, onwards, it advanced steadily eastwards, finally reaching Honfleur.

It was a seriously depleted formation that returned to England to rest and reorganize during the next few months. In December the Division was fighting in the Ardennes under the command of Major-General E. Bols, having been thrust into the western tip of the Ardennes salient. It returned to England early in the New Year, and was dropped east of the Rhine on March 24, 1945, landing with the U.S. 17th Airborne Division to seize the crossings of the River Issel and the important railway running from Wesel to Bocholt.

All the objectives had been taken by the following afternoon, and the next morning a firm junction was made with the British forces advancing from the Rhine. The Division then took part in the advance across Germany, reaching the Baltic Sea and having linked up with Russian troops at Wismar before the unconditional surrender of Germany. The formation remained in Germany until the autumn of 1945, when it was transferred to Palestine.