Tag Archives: Pegasus Bridge

Of Skrim’d helmets and toggle ropes on Tonga

Almost forgotten in the shuffle with COVID and rioters, the 76th anniversary of the Overlord landings on Normandy just passed.

While over here we remember the double jump behind the lines by the 82nd (All American) and 101st (Screaming Eagles) Airborne Divisions are extremely well documented in their actions to the rear of Omaha and Utah beaches, the British/Canadian 6th Airborne Division also jumped that night behind Juno and Sword Beach in Operation Tonga, famously making a play for what is now remembered as Pegasus Bridge.

Two common pieces of kit observed on the Brit/Canuck Paras were skrim/scrim helmets and toggle ropes.

Future Elizabeth and the Queen Mother speak to British paratrooper 1944, prior to D-Day. Note his skrim camo helmet

1st Canada Parachute Battalion getting ready to leave Carter Barracks for their D-Day,. Note their STENs and chest pouches as well as skrimmed helmets.

Juno Beach, a weary 1st Canadian Paratrooper takes a rest in a slit trench. Varaville, Normandy. June 6, 1944. Toggle? Check. Skrim? Check

No. 4 Commando 1st Special Service Bde meet up with 6th Airborne Div Paras at Bénouville, 6 June 1944, behind Sword on D-Day. Note the Enfields, STENS with chest pouch, M1911 in the Commando’s hand, and various toggle ropes and scrim

British paratrooper during Operation Tonga with his skrim helmet and Mills bomb while a No. 4 Enfield bayonet is seen to the left, D-Day

Brothers, Lieutenants Joseph Philippe Rousseau & Joseph Maurice Rousseau, 1st Canadian Parachute Bn, looking like extras on “The Longest Day” of not “A Bridge Too Far” with their toggle & skrim

British 6th Para Div, DDay, Normandy. Do you see what I see? 

The Toggle rope was (supposedly) very useful

Uniform and equipment worn by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion paratrooper via Legion Magazine, note his helmet and toggle rope

Double helmet scrim. Helmet from Op Herrick 2010 on left and OP Varsity, March 1945, Via the Museum of the Parachute Rgt

1 SSB on D-Day, and the piper of the Pegasus Bridge

Note the Bren guns and covers on the Enfield .303s

The 1st Special Service Brigade (1 SSB) goes ashore at Sword Beach, 1944. The Lord Lovat Simon Fraser is visible to the right of the column wading ashore in the first photo, and is the one standing and addressing the brigade. After losing several men to sniper fire the unit switched from their distinctive berets to helmets shortly after coming ashore. Also visible in the first photo, closest to the camera, is the “Mad Piper” Bill Millin, who famously piped the unit across Pegasus Bridge.

Bill is interviewed below in 1991, which was demolished in 1994:

The airborne operation to seize Pegasus with just 90 glider-borne infantry of 6 Airborne Div with orders to “hold until relieved” (Operation Deadstick) is detailed below.