ONTARIO-L ArchivesArchiver > ONTARIO > 2004-07 > 1090284995
From: "Geogiana G. Webster" <>
Subject: Newletter about D-Day Celebration, May 2004
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2004 20:56:51 -0400
Part 3 -
George and Therese Gondree, who ran the Cafe Gondree on the south-west bank
of the Benouville Bridge, were the first to be liberated and offered their
premises for the wounded. George, a member of the resistance, excitedly dug
up 98 bottles of champagne which he had buried in 1940 and gave them to the
delighted liberators! Shortly after mid-day, the Gondree family were
treated to the spectacle of the legendary Bill Millin, playing 'Blue Bonnets
over the Border' on his bagpipes heading the reinforcements from Oistreham -
Lord Lovat's Green Berets - over the two bridges whilst under fire.
Miraculously he was not killed. Today, the Cafe Gondree is also a museum
and a shrine filled with 6th Airborne Division memorabilia.
Greatly depleted in numbers due to a disastrous parachute drop, men of the
9th Parachute Battalion overcame huge odds and destroyed the coastal
Merville Battery, thus safeguarding the British landings at Sword Beach.
The 3rd Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers completed the 3rd task of the
British 6th Airborne Division by blowing up 4 bridges over the River Dives
and one over the Divette to delay German reinforcements from the east. But
these actions on the first day cost the British dear. By its end, about
half of their 5,000 strong force were dead or missing, and many injured.
Civilian casualties must not be forgotten. In the Calvados area alone,
20,000 civilians died during the invasion and only 2 of the 763 towns
To be continued -