HART team remember war dead while training in France

Trio visit scene of daring World War 2 raid.

A NATO training exercise in France during the week leading up to Remembrance Day proved to be a poignant experience for three members of the NEAS Hazardous Area Response Team.

Marianne Ellison, Sean Storey and Graham Brooks were the only non-military personnel who travelled across the channel for the five-day day course  near Lyon.

The three began the journey back to Newcastle on Friday November 11. As 11am approached, they pulled over at a French motorway service station en-route to the Caen Ferry Terminal to observe a one-minute silence.

Marianne said: "It was an impressive sight to have 25 people who had been on the NATO exercise paying their respects alongside ten vehicles. Some passing French motorists also stopped and joined us. It was a very humbling experience to think about those who had lost their lives fighting for their country."

As they approached the ferry terminal, the trio made a spontaneous decision to visit the near-by war museum at Pegasus Bridge.

On the night of 5 June 1944, a force of 181 men took off from southern England in six gliders to capture Pegasus Bridge. The object was to prevent German armour from crossing and attacking the eastern flank while the allies landed at Sword Beach.

Five of the gliders reached their target, and  soldiers poured out of their battered gliders taking the Germans by surprise. The bridge was taken within 10-minutes, with the loss of just two men in the process -  Lieutenant Den Brotheridge and Lance-Corporal Fred Greenhalgh. The mission was later described as "the most outstanding flying of World War 2."

On the ferry back to Portsmouth, the NEAS team were joined on board by some members of the British Veterans Association. Another short Remembrance ceremony followed, where Dave Bull said a few words, before Marianne threw a poppy wreath overboard.

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