Anthony Costelloe examines the way in which Hollywood has treated three major incidents of WW2, the capture from the Germans of three key bridges that were vital to the Allies cause.

In the final year of World War ll, three bridges were of vital importance to the Allied offensive in Europe. They were, in chronological order, the Pegasus Bridge over the Orne River in North East Normandy; the Arnhem Bridge over the Rhine river and the Bridge at Remagen over the river Rhine in Germany, historically known as the Ludendorff Bridge.

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, June 6th, 1944, Dublin-born stage actor Richard Todd of the 5th Regiment 6th Airborne Division sat in the Stirling bomber poised to parachute onto Normandy soil.

24-year-old Captain Todd was one of the paratroopers sent to reinforce Major John Howard, commander of D Company, who were holding Pegasus Bridge in North East Normandy. 31-year-old Major Howard had successfully captured the bridge in a mission that relied on the element of surprise for its success.

Eighteen years later Hollywood recreated in celluloid the events of D-Day, June 6th, 1944, – code name ‘Operation Overlord’, a day when the dawn of freedom rose over Europe and the world, a day when the Allied forces launched the greatest amphibious offensive ever assembled.

Three million men, eleven thousand planes and four thousand ships converged on Normandy soil.Their objective was to crush Hitler and his army.

This three hour epic war movie, ‘The Longest Day’ gives a graphic account of that momentous day. It was filmed in black and white and is in documentary format, though dramatised.

One section of this star-studded epic was titled ‘The Orne River Bridge’.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own