Basically this is the biography of Major John Howard DSO, the courageous British Army officer who led the attack by the 6th British Airborne Division on the bridge over the Caen Canal of the River Orne in June 1944.
Having said it is a biography and a most enjoyable one at that, this interesting volume based on Howard's own diaries and papers and co-written with his daughter, provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the man himself, as well as conditions on the home front in the latter years of the Second World War. The majority and most interesting part of the book however is devoted to the recruitment and subsequent training of a battalion of the Airborne Forces for D-Day as well as the actual invasion itself.
Howard and his men of the 2nd Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry were amongst the first troops to land on enemy held soil on D-Day. Transported by Horsa gliders, they were towed across the English Channel by Halifax bombers and having been released from their towing aircraft at 8000 feet, they remarkably landed within meters of their target - a target that had been chosen as it would be via this bridge that the enemy would aim to re-enforce their positions in Normandy in the event of invasion.
John Howard died at the age of 86 in 1999. As a result of his actions during this particular campaign, Howard was awarded the DSO and Croix de Guerre with Palme, however many consider that a far greater and lasting tribute to him and his brave men was the fact that the road that crosses the bridge was re-named Rue John Howard and the bridge itself is now known both locally and internationally as Pegasus Bridge.
This volume will appeal to a wide range of readers from anyone who enjoys war biographies to those with a special interest in events at this time. It will no doubt be popular with military historians and anyone whose ancestors actually fought there.