Operation Tonga was the codename given to the airborne operation undertaken by the British 6th Airborne Division between 5 June and 7 June 1944 as a part of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings during World War II.
The paratroopers and glider-borne airborne troops of the division, commanded by Major-General Richard Nelson Gale, landed on the eastern flank of the invasion area, near to the city of Caen, tasked with a number of objectives. The division was to capture two strategically important bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River which were to be used by Allied ground forces to advance once the seaborne landings had taken place, destroy several other bridges to deny their use to the Germans and secure several important villages. The division was also assigned the task of assaulting and destroying the Merville Gun Battery, an artillery battery that Allied intelligence believed housed a number of heavy artillery pieces, which could bombard the nearest invasion beach (codenamed Sword) and possibly inflict heavy casualties on the Allied troops landing on it. Having achieved these objectives, the division was then to create and secure a bridgehead focused around the captured bridges until they linked up with advancing Allied ground forces.
Todays A2A Sortie will see us drop members of 'D' Company, 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, from our C47's near the Caen canal bridge, later renamed the Pagasus Bridge after the mythical winged horse utilized as the formation sign of the British airborne forces. Their aim is to take the bridge, then hold it until reinforcements arrive from the seaborne assault later in the day.
The original mission departed from Royal Air Force Tarrant Rushton or more simply RAF Tarrant Rushton, East of Blandford Forum in Dorset. It was used for glider operations during World War II and later revived for civilian operations. It is currently disused, though some buildings survive. Today it serves as a visual reference point (VRP) for VFR flights, in particular NW departures from Bournemouth Airport. As Bournemouth is the nearest airport that currently exists we'll use this as out starting point for todays sortie.
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Aircraft Type C-47
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