Visiting Normandy ? - don't miss the Cafe Gondree !
The first house to be liberated in France on
D Day, 1944.
The picture shows Horsa Glider PF800 Landing at just after midnight on June 6, 1944. It landed 50 metres from Pegasus Bridge and contained 38 troops from the OX & Bucks Regiment who were the first troops down on D Day. Leading the charge across the bridge was the first Allied Soldier to be killed on
D Day. He was Lt. "Den" Brotheridge, who was shot whilst crossing the bridge under fire..He was taken to the nearby Cafe Gondree, but died shortly afterwards.
The OX & Bucks Troops landed silently and accurately, thanks to the wonderful pilots of the Glider Pilot Regiment who brought their Horsa Gliders down right on target Just before midnight on June 5. This incredible feat of flying in almost complete darkness enabled the troops to take the Germans completely by surprise, and capture the vitally important Bridge over the Caen Canal (later called Pegasus Bridge). The Cafe Gondree was liberated and quickly turned into a Field Hospital where injured troops were treated. The OX & Bucks fought on against a determined assault by the Germans, but held out until they were relieved by Lord Lovat and his commando's led, as usual by Bill Millin, Lord Lovat's Piper. Eventually, British troops of the Parachute Regiment arrived and the whole area was secured.
Arlette Gondree (only four years of age at the time) was given chocolate by the British soldiers, whilst her father dug up his Champagne from the Garden where he had hidden it from the Germans, and happily dished it out to the British Troops who had arrived so secretly.
One word of warning - when you enter her cafe, hide your camera ! If she sees you taking photo's, she will shoot you !
Ever since that day, the Cafe Gondree has been kept as a living shrine to the bravery and sacrifice of the Allied troops in Liberating France from the German occupation, and today Arlette and her staff can be seen most days providing tea, coffee and wonderful sandwiches in her cafe which is full of marvellous memorabila that has been donated variously both by members of the armed forces from all over the Commonwealth, and by grateful visitors.
The Cafe Gondree is on the Benouville (north) side of the Caen Canal which is spanned by Pegasus Bridge. The existing bridge is an exact, but slighlty larger copy of the original bridge The original bridge has been resited in the grounds of the Memorial Pegasus Museum on the south side of the New bridge. The Museum is excellent and should not be missed.
Mark Worthington, the Curator is English, and excellent English is spoken by most of the staff.
Before you visit the Normandy Beaches of World War Two
Try these useful links for your unforgettable trip the the battlefields of France, where history was made
World War One, Ypres and The Somme
These links will take you to the Battlefields of WW1, where millions died to make history