Sites and places
L'Eglise de Bénouville (Bénouville Church)
Even though Pegasus Bridge was soon in firm British hands, the surrounding villages of Benouville and Le Port were not. This soon became a problem when the bridge came under intense sniper fire and movement across the bridge was almost impossible.
Even when visiting Pegasus Bridge nowadays it is painfully obvious how vulnerable the bridge is to being observed from high landmarks such as the Bénouville church and the Bénouville Chateaux.
Picture taken while standing on Pegasus Bridge. The church has a great view over the entire area...
So something had to be done. The following has been quoted from a newspaper article that Lieutenant Richard Andrew Palethorpe Todd later wrote about his D-Day experiences on Pegasus Bridge and near Bénouville church:
""B" Company in and around Le Port repelled repeated attacks, one of the worst problems being the many snipers making movement difficult as they picked off men from cottage windows, roof-tops and the church tower. That stout little Norman tower was right in the centre of "B" Company's area, and very difficult to deal with. The church was surrounded by open ground and virtually impossible to attack. Finally, Corporal Killean of the anti-tank platoon found a solution. With his piat (a hand-held bazooka), he crept from cottage to cottage until he found a position with cover from view and within his bomb's range. His first blew a hole in the tower and succeeding ones practically shattered it. He then rushed the church, determined to finish off any snipers, but he had no need. His bombs had killed all the occupants...."
Bénouville church after Corporal Killean hit it with a PIAT anti tank weapon.
"... Later in the day, Corporal Killean recorded an interview with Chester Wilmot, the BBC War Correspondent who had joined us. I was present when he spoke to the embarrassed Killean, a good Irish Catholic lad. Chester drew from his a hesitant description of his exploit. It was the Corporal's last sentence that I shall never forget: "When I got to the church door I looked up, and, och! I was sorry to see what I had done to a wee house of God - but I did take off my tin hat when I went inside!" - Lieutenant Richard Andrew Palethorpe Todd
The Bénouville church in 2006 - fully restored
Those who'd like to duplicate Corporal Killean efforts in taking out the German snipers Bénouville church can do so by playing ASL scenario "PB4 Killean's Red" which mirrors the attack on the church and the effort to blow up the steeple. Interesting is that PB4 Corporal Killean is mentioned on the scenario card as a Private (in fact he was a Corporal) and that the mentioned "one sniper" was actually quite a number of them, with some reports mentioning up to twelve snipers being active at one time from the churches location!
My girlfriend showing us where exactly Bénouville church is located on the Pegasus Bridge Campaign map...
- PB1 Ham and bloody jam
- PB2 Howards men
- PB4 Killean's red
- PB6 It's about time
- PB-CG1 Coup de main
- PB-CG2 Hold until relieved
L'Eglise de Benouville
Le Port, France