Anyone visiting Pegasus Bridge will no doubt be aware of the corner house at the point of the crossroads (formerly the T-Junction) of the old Caen – Ouistreham road. This distinctive building, known as the ‘Morin House’, had been derelict for many years, and sadly, was demolished last week.
The house played a vital role in the defence of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. A four-man Forward Observation Bombardment Team comprising Captain Francis Vere Hodge, Wilf Fortune, Ted Eley and Alex Boomer actually took up position upstairs, as it provided the best view of the countryside to the west. They had the ability to call in support fire from warships off-shore. Wilf Fortune recalled: “Alec was trying to get a ship attached by radio and Vere was scanning the area when he saw some Germans coming into view over this sloping cornfield [to the south- west]. He called me to have a look. ‘They’re riding little motorbikes,’ I said to him. He agreed, it looked like that, but soon you could see they were running [with knees bent due to the slope]. Captain Hodge then sent Ted and me back to the platoon to which these Germans were heading, to warn them. He was also afraid of the OP being overrun.”
Captain Vere Hodge remembered: “Alex continued trying to get a ship, without success. There was a knock on the front door and the occupants spoke with a German soldier. Alex and I held our breaths, but they didn’t give us away and the soldier left.
A sort of eerie silence fell and I thought it was time to think of leaving. So I said to the family in my broken French, ‘If I don’t find my friends we’ll come back here. Ici.’ They didn’t say anything. They were absolutely terrified, poor things. It was terrible for them having two British soldiers in the house because they’d have got shot no doubt, if they’d been found out. Anyway, lying in the road was a dead man, don’t really know if he was a German or one of ours, and one or two other things. There was one of our Airborne tin hats which I took and put on ’cos I’d had mine knocked off in the landing, and there was a German rifle and a bandolier of rounds for it, both of which I picked up. And then I said to Alex, ‘I think this is where we exit, fairly briskly!’”
‘Progress’ is slowly eroding the historic topography of Normandy. A visit to Pegasus Bridge will never be the same.