Ceremony to mark brave heroics of D-Day glider pilots

Date: 03-06 Jun 05'Location: Normandy'Event: Normandy 61st Anniversary.''Unit: Army Air Corps'Photographer: Warrant Officer (Class 2) Steven Prendergast, Royal Logistic Corps.''Caption: The Annual pilgrimage to France with the Glider Pilot Regiment veterans to commemerate the 61st Anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy.''For Further Information Contact:'Media Centre'School of Army Aviation'Middle Wallop'Stockbridge'Hants'SO20 8DY'Civilian Telephone: 01980 674300'Military Telephone: 94329 4300'email: saavn-photo@btconnect.com
Date: 03-06 Jun 05'Location: Normandy'Event: Normandy 61st Anniversary.''Unit: Army Air Corps'Photographer: Warrant Officer (Class 2) Steven Prendergast, Royal Logistic Corps.''Caption: The Annual pilgrimage to France with the Glider Pilot Regiment veterans to commemerate the 61st Anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy.''For Further Information Contact:'Media Centre'School of Army Aviation'Middle Wallop'Stockbridge'Hants'SO20 8DY'Civilian Telephone: 01980 674300'Military Telephone: 94329 4300'email: saavn-photo@btconnect.com

As the country pays its respects to those who fought in D-Day a special ceremony is set to be held to honour a group of heroic men who played a vital role in making the landings a success.

Horsham resident Jane Barkway Harney has travelled across the channel to hold memorial services for the brave men of the Glider Pilot Regiment.

gliders

gliders

Jane’s father, Geoff Barkway, served in the regiment which was given the almost impossible task 75 years ago of gliding across Nazi occupied France and landing aircraft with no engines.

Their mission was to glide down the Caen Canal and River Orne and capture two strategic bridges to stop the German reinforcements reaching the beaches before the D-Day invasions began.

The regiment was made up of six 67 ft Horsa gliders - carrying more than 50 troops each - which were towed across the Channel by Halifax tow aircraft before being let go just before the French coast.

Geoff’s aircraft was the third to land at the Caen Canal bridge crossing - later renamed Pegasus Bridge. But as if flying into enemy territory with no engine wasn’t challenging enough, landing the glider proved even tougher especially with the aircraft travelling at around 90 miles-per-hour as it approached the ground.

Jane said the impact of the landing catapulted her father out of the cockpit and into the water. He then had to pull himself up and rescue co-pilot Pete Boyle who had become entangled in the cockpit.

The pair went on to help capture the bridge although Geoff lost his arm after being shot in the conflict.

Jane will be holding a memorial service at Pegasus Bridge on Thursday June 6 to pay tribute to her late father and all the brave men who fought to capture the important strategic points.

They will be joined by scores of other servicemen as well as three of her family members who are set to arrive with more than 100 others in glider formation after taking on a two-day charity trek from the former airbase at Tarrant Rushton in Dorset.

A new memorial for the fourth glider - which was released in the wrong place and landed at the River Dives - will also be unveiled whilst a second service is set to be held at the landing stones on Friday June 7.

For more on the Glider Pilot Regiment visit www.gliderpilotregiment.org.uk