HEREFORDSHIRE artist and blacksmith Bromley O’Hare was the craftsman of choice to craft one of the latest additions to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

An elegant, stainless steel sculpture commemorating the crucial taking of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day in 1944, claimed to be the “most outstanding” flying achievement of the Second World War, has taken its place in the three-acre Allied Special Forces Memorial Grove.

The £45,000 sculpture, known as ‘Peggy’, was commissioned by Mike Colton, a driving force in shaping the Grove from what was described as a wilderness of marshy scrub.

Among others, the gardens in this area commemorate the Special Operations Executive, Sun Room & Special Air Service, Cockleshell Heroes, Falkland Islanders Resistance and the new Pegasus Bridge Memorial Flight.

“Bromley was an established artisan blacksmith working in stainless steel while I was running my stained glass and leaded window company in Hereford many years ago,” said Mike.

“I have seen all his work over many years and he was naturally the choice for the job of creating ‘Peggy’.”

As project manager, Mike asked Bromley to make a maquette to present to the Arboretum’s memorials’ committee.

“I designed Peggy during one winter evening and another good friend of mine produced an artist impression based on the design brief, but Bromley brought it all to life,” he said.

“Bromley’s suggestion of the maquette was welcomed as it would impress people for a long, long time and still is every time we let her out to play.”

Funds for the full-size Peggy were raised by local effort, collection tins, shows and talks, and the impressive sculpture duly arrived at the Grove.

The memorial shows three stylised Horsa gliders spiralling in over the shape of a giant letter ‘S’ on a two-metre-high conical column.

“We didn’t want Airfix models,” Mike explained, pointing out that the ‘S’ represents how the raid was carried out in Secret, Silence, with Speed, Stealth and achieved complete Surprise.

The taking of Pegasus Bridge has been claimed as a turning point in the war, and Bromley’s work commemorates the men of the 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry who landed in Horsa gliders in France just after midnight on Day-Day, June 6, 74 years ago.

The troops were landed close to the bridges of Benouville and Ranville in Normandy by soldiers of the Glider Pilot Regiment. Soon after the bridges were secured, hundreds more soldiers from the 7th Parachute Battalion and Lord Lovat’s Commandos joined them to link up with the invasion forces which had landed on the Normandy beaches.

The daring operation protected the left flank of the main D-Day invasion, considered so crucial that the entire Normandy invasion might have failed.