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Convoy of 90 Black cabs ferries veterans to Pegasus Bridge for the final time to commemorate the 73r

Back To The Beaches coverage in Mail Online

A convoy of 90 Black cabs has ferried veterans to Pegasus Bridge for the final time to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of D-Day.

The touching tribute was organised by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, with the elderly Second World War veterans and their families leaving Portsmouth for Caen, northern France, on Sunday.

There were moving scenes as the visitors, with chests of gleaming combat medals, met local people and attended a special service at Pegasus Bridge Museum.

During the five-day trip, the veterans will also lay wreaths at the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery (CWGC) at Ranville, attend a Royal British Legion Service at Bayeux CWGC and a reception given by the Mayor of Caen at the Town Hall.

Navy veteran and charity collector, Peter Kent said: 'I've been on numerous trips with the Taxi Charity and they're a smashing bunch, we have a wonderful time - it's the highlight of my year. 'It will be emotional but we have a lot of laughs too. I'm very grateful for what they do for us.' Dick Goodwin, vice president of the Taxi Charity Committee, added: 'Our youngest veterans are now touching 90, so very sadly the numbers that have the stamina and level of fitness for an overseas trip is falling every year.

'There is a great spirit of friendship on our trips and the old chaps and ladies are great fun to be with, we are looking forward to this latest adventure.'

The capture of Pegasus Bridge, formerly known as the Caen Canal Bridge, was vital to the success of the Allied Invasion of France in the Second World War.

The objective of the raid, code-named Operation Deadstick, was to land six gliders near two small bridges over the River Orne and Caen Canal, capturing them from the Germans.

Holding the crossings would stop Nazi tanks reaching the Normandy beaches, in code-named Sword, Gold, Juno, Utah and Omaha, where allied troops would land the next morning.

Some 380 British soldiers faced the Nazis' 21st Panzer Division, which had 12,350 men in the area, 127 tanks and 40 self-propelled guns.

At 12.16am on D-Day the gliders crash-landed just yards from the bridge at Benouville, now known as Pegasus Bridge after the 7th Parachute Battalion's winged horse insignia, carrying troops from D Company, 2nd Ox and Bucks Light Infantry.

They were later reinforced by the Paras' 7th Battalion. After a short firefight both bridges were taken.

The successful mission left 20 British dead and 50 wounded.

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