Colonel Obituary: David Wood: Pegasus bridge D-Day veteran

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Colonel David Wood: Pegasus bridge D-Day veteran

    David Wood was the last surviving officer of the coup-de-main parties that captured the bridges over the Caen canal and the River Orne in the early hours of D-Day, June 6, 1944.

    The bridges were essential for the support of the 6th Airborne Division, dropped by parachute and landed by gliders east of the Orne, on the left flank of the Allied bridgehead. Gliders delivered the coup-de-main parties alongside the bridges, in what Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory commanding the Allied air forces on that day described as “the airmanship feat of the war”.

    The infantry and engineer assault troops, 126 men in all, were commanded by Major John Howard of 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Lieutenant David Wood led the men in the second of the three gliders that landed alongside the bridge over the Caen Canal, subsequently famous as “Pegasus Bridge”. Although severely shaken by landing on rough ground in the dark at about 90 miles an hour, he found himself in one piece and still clutching to his chest a bucket of primed 36 grenades he thought might come in useful in clearing the German defenders from around the bridge.

    Ordered forward by Howard, who had climbed out of the wreckage of the leading glider only minutes before, he led his men up the slight slope to the bridge, checking that every enemy weapon pit was clear as he went. As he reached the road, a burst of enemy fire hit him in the leg and he went down with three bullets in it and a compound fracture of the femur.

    His wound kept him out of action for the rest of the war and he needed a built-up shoe or boot for the rest of his life as his left leg was an inch and a half shorter than his right.

    Howard, who had originally doubted whether the young, fresh-faced subaltern straight from officer training would measure up to the standards of Airborne forces, had recorded immediately before the operation: “Wood is a rattling good officer and I wouldn’t lose him for the world.”

    After the war Wood resumed regimental soldiering, attended the Staff College and moved through a variety of posts to achieve the rank of colonel. He was Military Assistant to the C-in-C British Army of the Rhine, for which service he was appointed MBE, and second-in-command of 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, as his regiment had by then become, in Malaysia during the Indonesian “Confrontation” with the new Federation. In his final army posting, he was in charge of the Infantry Records office in Exeter.

    In 1994 he was appointed a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French Government in recognition of his work on behalf of the Normandy Veterans’ Association, of which he was president of the Exeter branch until his death.

    Until his final illness Wood had been planning to be present in Normandy this June to mark the 65th anniversary of the capture of Pegasus Bridge when a new memorial to the men of the coup-de-main parties, the glider pilots and RAF aircrew is to be unveiled as a result of a fundraising campaign organised under the title Project 65.

    The greater part of the money raised is to be donated to charities helping wounded and needy service and ex-service men and women.

    He is survived by his wife, Alice, a former officer of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

    Colonel David Wood, MBE, veteran of the Pegasus Bridge coup-de-main operation on D-Day, was born on February 23, 1923. He died on March 12, 2009, aged 86
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Farewell to an Airborne Warrior. R.I.P. Colonel Wood.
     
  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    RabidAlien Active Member

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    rochie Well-Known Member

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    R.I.P col Woods
     
  8. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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  9. Bernhart

    Bernhart <b>2012 Forum Fantasy Football Champion</ b>

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    my math correct? he was only in 21 ? Isn't that young for a Major ?
     
  10. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    He probably got promotions along the way.
     
  11. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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