Tribute to the first allied soldier to die on D-Day to be unveiled on 80th anniversary

The Veterans Charity has announced plans to unveil a fitting memorial plaque to the first allied serviceman to die on 6 June 1944.

LCpl Fred Greenhalgh, from Bury in Lancashire, was part of the daring operation to capture two bridges in Normandy in the opening minutes of D-Day. The bridges, now known as ‘Pegasus’ and ‘Horsa’, were vital the strategic plan and had to be captured intact.  The enormous task was given to Major John Howard of the 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry who, together with soldiers from 249 Field Company Royal Engineers, Glider Pilot Regiment, Royal Army Medical Corps and one man from The Parachute Regiment, spearheaded the entire liberation.

Loaded onto six Horsa Gliders, the group were to land close to their objectives and with the element of surprise and the cover of night, had to capture the two vital bridges and hold them until relieved later in the day.

LCpl Greenhalgh was part of a Bren Gun team and travelled in no3 glider which landed at around 0018hrs on 6th June 1944. The glider had to take evasive action to avoid colliding with no2 glider which had landed moments before. Sadly, as no3 suffered a heavy impact, the fuselage broke and LCpl Greenhalgh was thrown out and landed in a nearby pond where he drowned. His body was discovered the next day. He is buried at Douves-la-Deliverande, several miles away.

The Veterans Charity has commissioned a distinctive and fitting memorial plaque which will be unveiled in a ceremony on the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at the spot where LCpl Greenhalgh was killed. The base of the memorial has been designed to represent the structure of Pegasus Bridge and has been created by former Royal Engineer, Terry Simms. The plaque is engraved with LCpl Greenhalgh’s Regimental Cap Badge of The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Danny Greeno, CEO of The Veterans Charity said:

During a visit to Normandy last year, a friend of the charity suggested that something should be done to honour LCpl Greenhalgh for the 80th anniversary commemorations. As the charity which has previously honoured the heroic deeds of the operation to capture the two bridges, we felt it was essential to honour LCpl Greenhalgh and to mark the spot where he was so tragically killed in the opening minutes of D-Day. We are very proud to be able to do this and to ensure his sacrifice will not be forgotten.

“There has been fabulous support for this initiative including from the Madame Clementine Le Marrec, the Mayor of Benouville and Terry Simms who has kindly provided his skills to create the superb base for free.”

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By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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