Pegasus Bridge is the 4th historical module for the tactical wargame system Advanced Squad Leader, and the last HASL module released by Avalon Hill before it went out of business and was acquired by Hasbro. The module simulates the fighting for the famous Pegasus Bridge during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The module includes a large historical map, counters, rules, and six scenarios that can be played as stand-alone games or as part of a campaign game. The module also requires other Advanced Squad Leader products to play, such as Beyond Valor, Yanks, and West of Alamein.
The campaign games allow the players to recreate the historical events of the night and day of the Allied assault on Pegasus Bridge, as the British airborne troops of the 6th Airborne Division try to seize and hold the bridge over the Caen Canal against the German defenders of the 716th Infantry Division and the 21st Panzer Division. The players can purchase additional forces, fortifications, and reinforcements with campaign purchase points, and the length of each game day varies depending on the situation. The campaign game also features historical events such as the arrival of the gliders, the counterattacks of the German tanks, and the relief of the airborne troops by the British 3rd Infantry Division.
There are two CGs in Pegasus Bridge:
- Coupe de Main: an 8-date CG that depicts the capture of the bridge by British forces. This CG is played primarily at night.
- Hold Until Relieved: a 5-date CG that depicts the German attempt to recapture the bridge the next day. It’s played entirely in daylight and is an alternative to Coup de Main if players don’t want to deal with night or glider rules.
Below is the original list of contents included in the original release of Pegasus Bridge:
- 22″ x 32″ Pegasus Bridge/Caen Canal map
- 2 counter sheets (224 counters total)
- 6 scenarios
- Special rules (Chapter Q)
- Chapter Q divider
- Chapter H update
- Chapter K update
As far as HASL modules go, Pegasus Bridge is one of the more reasonably sized compared to its counterparts at the time. Pegasus Bridge has been out of print for decades, but there are rumors that it will be reprinted as part of a “Bridges” type of HASL module that will include a collection of smaller HASL campaign games (new and out of print).
As mentioned above, the 22″ x 32″ Pegasus Bridge map is quite reasonable in size when compared to Red Barricades and Kampfgruppe Pieper I & II which were published in the same era of ASL. The map depicts only the Caen Canal which is straddled by Pegasus Bridge, and not the River Orne which lies just to the east of the canal (just off the bottom edge of the map below).
Below is a partial comparison between a historical image (taken shortly after the action) and the historical ASL map published by Avalon Hill. While relatively close in scale and detail you can see that some design liberties were taken with the village (Bénouville) just west of the canal (upper side of the image below). This is likely a result of the hex scale (40m per hex) and the tight nature of some of the roads next to one another. The scale just isn’t conducive to mimicking constrained details like this
Originally called the Bénouville Bridge after the neighboring village, Pegasus Bridge was a road crossing over the Caen Canal, between Caen and Ouistreham in Normandy, France. It was a vital strategic position for the Allied invasion of France on June 6, 1944. The bridge was the objective of a glider-borne force of 181 men, led by Major John Howard, of the British 6th Airborne Division. They were part of Operation Tonga, which aimed to secure the eastern flank of the landings at Sword Beach.
In Operation Deadstick the British troops landed near the bridge in six Horsa gliders at 00:16, and captured it intact within ten minutes. They also took the nearby Ranville Bridge over the Orne River, later renamed Horsa Bridge. They then held the bridges against several German counterattacks until they were relieved by the main British forces advancing from Sword Beach.
However, the battle also had some negative consequences. The British troops who captured the bridge were isolated and vulnerable to German counterattacks for several hours, until they were relieved by the main British forces. They had to endure intense shelling and sniping, and suffered casualties and exhaustion. The bridge also became a target for German bombers, and was damaged several times. The original bridge had to be replaced by a new one in 1994, due to its deteriorating condition.
The capture of Pegasus Bridge was a remarkable feat of daring and skill, and prevented the possibility that German forces could attack the eastern flank of the Allied invasion. It also enabled the Allies to establish a bridgehead over the Caen Canal and the Orne River, which facilitated the movement of troops and supplies. The bridge was renamed Pegasus Bridge on June 26, 1944, after the winged horse emblem on the uniforms of the British airborne forces.
The battle for Pegasus Bridge was one of the first engagements of D-Day, and one of the most successful. The British troops suffered only two killed and 14 wounded, while the Germans lost about 20 killed and 50 captured. The bridge and its defenders became famous and inspired several books and films, such as The Longest Day. The original bridge is now a war memorial and is the centerpiece of the Memorial Pegasus museum at nearby Ranville.
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ASL Map Spotlights are meant to be quick history lessons on available historical Advanced Squad Leader actions. These short articles are meant to highlight both a short history of the battle portrayed for players unfamiliar with the setting, as well as show the ASL map on which it plays out.
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