Stephen E. Ambrose, the author of Pegasus Bridge, first met Major John Howard on June 7, 1981 at Pegasus bridge. Major Howard led D Company of the Ox and Bucks on D-Day, and when Ambrose heard Major Howard’s story while he was leading a tour group, he became very fascinated with the story of Pegasus bridge on D-Day and decided to write his next book about it. This book explains how Major Howard prepared his team for the invasion. Major Howard worked his way up through the ranks to get to be a company commander. He trained his soldiers endlessly, with an emphasis on competitive games to be played among one another. He wanted to keep their spirits high, while keeping everyone in the best shape, because he knew his company would have to be the best to accomplish their task on D-Day. “Howard selected two platoons from B Company, one commanded by Sandy Smith, the other by Dennis Fox (59).” This was to expand D Company for their important task they were assigned to do for when the invasion begins.
The mission occurred in the middle of the night to surprise the Germans. Each glider landed a minute apart to deliver the troops of D Company. A large concern that would add to the difficulty of the situation was that the bridges would be set up to explode if they were to be attacked. However, to the British’s surprise this was not the case, and they successfully seized the bridges from the Germans. As General Gale predicted, the real difficulty lied in maintaining control of the bridges until relief came. D Company had limited weapons to fight with, because they had to pack light due to the gliders. So, after the capture of the bridges Major Howard began setting up his defense to prepare for the counterattack. “Tanks coming down the T-Junction were by far his greatest worry” (107). However, Howard was prepared by placing M. Thornton thirty yards away from the T-Junction with his Piat, which was the strongest gun they had there. When the first German tank came, Thornton shot it right on target causing Von Luck to pull his German troops back. Because of Major Howard’s intense training and preparation of his men, they were ready for the invasion and were in their comfort zone, unlike the Germans who were tired and out of their element. D Company accomplished their mission through their hard work and determination, and started the invasion with a success on D-Day.
Pegasus Bridge was entertaining to read and provided much historical insight to a specific war event important to our history. The book was hard to put down once the invasion started, because Ambrose described everything in great detail which created a lot of suspense for the reader. It was very interesting to read about what happened at a specific location and time, with all of the preparation that went into the mission. Ambrose was very thorough and started with how D Company was formed, trained, the men’s personal lives, and then ultimately the invasion and what they did after. He did an excellent job with telling the story of how it happened; it wasn’t confusing like some war books can be. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about history.