Sunday, July 08, 2012

The 'Red Devils' of the night

1. Major Ray Devlin, T.D., Parachute Regt. Assn. (left)
Mme. Arlette Gondrée-Pritchett, Gondrée café (right)
[Photograph courtesy of Major Ray Devlin, 06.06.2012]
2. Statue of Brigadier. James Hill (1911 - 2006)
3rd Parachute Bde. HQ, 6th Airbone Div. (1944)   
["Memorial Pegasus" Museum, Normandy]

3. Major Ray Devlin, T.D., Parachute Regt. Assn. (left)
Pte. Gordon Newton, 9th Parachute Regt. (right)

[Photograph courtesy of Major Ray Devlin, 06.06.2012]
4. Cpl. James 'Marra' McGuinness MM,
9th Parachute Regt., (Author's collection)
[Courtesy of 'News & Star']

For additional infomation click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

The 'Red Devils' of the night

During the night of 5 / 6 June 1944 the 'Red Devils' came out of the darkness, coming to land in the Normandy countryside. This area would become the eastern flank of the Allied Normandy bridgehead during the summer of 1944 - the 'pivot' around which the final breakout would revolve. These first 'Red Devils' to fall out of the sky were the men of British 6th Airborne Division who were detailed to liberate the eastern flank of the bridgehead and hold it against any German counter-attack for as long as necessary and come what may.

The first dwelling in French 'liberated' by the 'Red Devils' of the 6th Airborne Division was the Gondrée café, Benouville. This café is next to the Caen canal and adjacent to the bridge over the canal that would subsequently become known as 'Pegasus Bridge'. The name comes from the winged horse Pegasus, emblem of the Allied Airborne Forces.

In June 1944 the Gondrée café was owned by Georges and Thérèse Gondrée, who lived there with their three young daughters, Georgette, Arlette and Françoise. Since the war, in early June each year many veterans, relatives and friends of the Allied Airborne Forces have returned on pilgrimage to visit the land they helped liberate and where many of their closest friends lost their lives.

Monsieur Georges Gondrée passed away on 5 April 1969. Madame Thérèse Gondrée, who became known as the 'Mother of the 6th Airborne Division', passed away on 2 July 1984 shortly after the 40th anniversary of the Liberation.

Their daughter, Mme. Arlette Gondrée-Pritchett, and her family still run the Gondrée café. They are also among the local residents from the area who take part in the annual Liberation commemorations. Mme. Arlette is seen in one of the photographs above with Major Ray Devlin, T.D., a Suez veteran (Photograph No. 1).

Among the other 'Red Devils' who dropped out of the dark of the night into Normandy were men of the 3rd Parachute Brigade, commanded by Brigadier James Hill, D.S.O., M.C. One of its battalions, the 9th Parachute Battalion, had as its first task to take out the German coastal defence battery at Merville before dawn on D-Day. Next, they had to capture Le Plein, hand over to Lord Lovatt's commandos when they arrived from the Sword Landing Beach in the afternoon, then take and hold the Château Saint-Côme overlooking the Orne river, Caen canal and the Pegasus and Orne river bridges.

A statue of Brigadier James Hill is now found in the grounds of the "Memorial Pegasus" Museum (Photograph No. 2 above). Among the men of 9th Parachute Regiment who helped 9th Para take its objectives were Pte. Gordon Newton (seen with Major Ray Devlin in Photograph No. 3 above) and Cpl. James McGuinness, M.M. (Photograph No. 4). Major Devlin was formerly a neighbour of Cpl. McGuinness and is President of the Cumbria Branch of the Parachute Regiment Association.

Sunday, 08 July, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further reading & information

1. To read an earlier article written by the author (with photographs of the Gondrée Café) click on the following link:
The first dwelling liberated on D-Day, 1944

2. To read the BBC "People's War" article written by the author about Corporal James "Marra" McGuinness MM in Normandy click on the following link:
'Marra' McGuinness MM at Merville, D-Day 6th June 1944

3. Access the "Memorial Pegasus" website by clicking on the following link:
Memorial Pegasus (Pegasus Bridge) website

4. Access the 'Merville Battery' website by clicking on thefollowing link:
Merville Battery Museum website

5. For further reading about the liberation of Pegasus Bridge on 5 / 6 June 1944:

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2003),
"Pegasus Bridge, D-Day: The daring British Airborne raid",
Pocket books, London.
ISBN 0-7434-5068-X

6. For further reading about the story of the 9th Parachute Battalion in Normandy (D-Day to D-Day + 6):

Barber, Neil (2002),
"The Day The Devils Dropped In",
Pen & Sword, Barnsley.
ISBN 978 1 84415 045 8


Monday, 09 July, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

7. To read Brigadier James Hill's own account of D-Day, which is on the BBC "People's War" website, click on the following link:
James Hill's D-Day: 3rd Parachute Brigade


Sunday, 29 July, 2012  
Blogger Musee de Pegasus Bridge said...

A Tous,
A Mesdames et Messieurs les Sénateurs, Députés, Maires,

Musée de Pegasus Bridge

Vous remercie de l’intérêt que vous portez à son Musée de Pegasus Bridge qui doit sa notoriété aux acteurs du 6 Juin qui l’ont crée avec Françoise Gondrée , une équipe de bénévoles pendant tant d’années et qui est toujours en activité .

Aujourd’hui, notre Musée de Pegasus Bridge dit ‘Mémorial’- il s’agit bien du même Musée - dont le siège est au Musée sur la commune de Ranville - que le Comité du Débarquement nous a usurpé avec la connivence des institutions locales depuis plus de 10 ans. Il faut maintenant dénoncer ce scandale !
Si le Musée de Pegasus Bridge, a toutes ses pièces, le comité du débarquement n’a strictement rien pour se justifier, d’où son emploi de coups bas et autres…….
Notre combat depuis plus de 10 ans avance cependant. Les procédures sont toujours en cours car le Musée de Pegasus Bridge ne cédera pas aux marchands du souvenir.
La démocratie doit être respectée et le patrimoine rendu .

Voir ”Conflit” dans le Menu de notre site
Rejoignez le comité de soutien en nous adressant un courriel/mail
en créant un lien à votre site ou blog, en signant la pétition, en diffusant partout notre vérité.

Françoise GONDREE Présidente
Pierre de Roquefeuil Vice Président

Saturday, 04 August, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

As the previous comment by 'Musée de Pegasus Bridge' (the Pegasus Bridge Museum) has been written in French, I have given an English translation below.

For Anglophones who may not be aware of the history of the museums and the WW2 collections in the Airborne Landing area of Normandy, it should perhaps be pointed out that there has been an ongoing legal process for some years between various interested parties. It would take up a lot of space to explain this in any detail.

However, the disputes have been well documented by the the local, national and international media.


To all,

My Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen, Senators, Deputies and Mayors,

From the Pegasus Bridge Museum

Thank you for your interest in the Pegasus Bridge Museum, which owes its origins to the players of 6 June who created it and have continued to run it for so many years, together with Françoise Gondrée and a team of volunteers.

Today, our Pegasus Bridge Museum, also called the ' Mémorial' - it is the same Museum - with its Museum headquarters in the community of Ranville - continues to be usurped by the Normandy Landings Committee along with the connivance of some local institutions for more than 10 years. We must now denounce this scandal!

If the Pegasus Bridge Museum has all of the collection, the Normandy Landings Committee has done absolutely nothing to justify itself. Hence the use of low blows and other means .......

However, our struggle for justice which has already lasted 10 years, will continue. Legal procedures are still ongoing because the Pegasus Bridge Museum will not give in to the souvenir sellers

Democracy must be respected and heritage retained.

For further details see "Conflict" ('Conflit') link on our website:

Join with those supporting us by sending us an email / mail:

or by creating a link to your website or blog, by signing our petition and by passing on the truth of the matter.
spreading across our truth.

Françoise Gondrée, President
Pierre de Roquefeuil Vice Président

Mlle. Françoise Gondrée is the youngest daughter of Georges and Thérèse Gondrée, owners of the Pegasus Bridge café at the time of the Liberation. It is as President of the 'Musée de Pegasus Bridge' that Françoise Gondrée has posted the above comment.

For anyone wishing to learn more about this, and to see the petition, click on the following link to access the English language version of their website:
Museums of Pegasus Bridge and Merville Battery (website)


Sunday, 05 August, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to find out more about my uncle (My mother's brother) George Caddock of London. (6th Airborne Division " Red Devils)

Wednesday, 19 September, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would to find out more about my uncle (my mother's brother) George Caddock (London) 6th Airborne Division "Red Devils"

Wednesday, 19 September, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

""However, the disputes have been well documented by the the local, national and international media.""

No, they never ask any enquiry to
Aspeg, Musée de Pegasus Bridge.

They are welcome to do so

If the vétérans, families or anyone knew the thruth, they would have a heart attack how the robbery as been done
They are also welcome-----------------

Friday, 05 April, 2013  

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