Of June 6, 1944, history books and films have mostly captured the arrival of American troops in the early morning on the beaches of Normandy. On the night of June 5 to 6, the 6th British Airborne Division was indeed the first to reach the French coast in order to break the German lock. Her long-forgotten role is now highlighted in a documentary aired on May 19 on France 5.
On April 23, 1943, Winston Churchill decided to create a new airborne unit: the 6th Airborne. Nearly 12,000 men will constitute it. 180 of them will be the very first fighters of the Allied invasion, who came to liberate France on the night of June 5 to 6, 1944. Their objective: to take the Bénouville bridge over the Caen canal that they must hold until the next day, before the arrival of thousands of paratroopers. This British division liberated the first French village, Ranville, where nearly two thousand of them now rest. 70 years later, the last survivors return to where they landed. They tell about the preparations, the training and the mission entrusted to them.
At the same time, thanks to films, photographs and radio reports made from the start of the fighting, viewers relive minute by minute the exact course of operations. Through these testimonies and unpublished archives, this documentary lifts the veil on the prelude to Operation Overlord and pays tribute to these forgotten heroes of the Second World War.
June 6, 1944: they were the first. La case du siècle, presented by Fabrice d'Almeida, Sunday May 19 at 10 p.m. on France 5.