Centaur Mk IV tank
Memorial Pegasus Museum, Ranville
Location and info
Memorial Pegasus, 1 Avenue Major John Howard, 14860 Ranville
Signposted off the D515 road from both Ouistreham in the north and Caen in the south, just head for Benouville and Ranville area.
The Centaur tank MK IV was a derivative of the British Cromwell tank and were used to give fire support to the Commando forces landing on three of the five D-Day beaches, Gold, Juno and Sword.
The initial plan was to use the tanks for the assault and for one week following the landings. They would then be replaced by the more heavily armoured and reliable Sherman tanks. However, the need was so great that the Centaur tanks continued to be
used during much of the Battle of Normandy.
In August 1944, several Centaur tanks served with 6th Airborne Division's armored reconnaissance regiment providing valuable support to the relatively lightly armed airborne division.
Each Centaur tank had a crew of five, the driver was a soldier of the Royal Armoured Corps, the commander, the gunner, loader and radio operator were Royal Marines.
The graduations on the turret enabled an observer outside of the tank to give gun fire directions, by radio, to the tank crew who had a very limited view of the combat.
This Centaur Tank, named "Vidette" by its crew, served in the 5th Independent Battery of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group.
On 6th June 1944, the tank was immobilised by German gunfire after landing on Sword Beach with the Commando Forces.
Vidette was recovered from a field on the coast in the 1970s, restored by the British Army and placed on the bank of the Caen Canal near Pegasus Bridge.
In 2013, the tank was in need of a second restoration and was moved into the Memorial Pegasus airborne museum grounds and renovated to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in June 2014.
Along with the original bridge from over the Caen Canal, the museum also displays a US half-track, anti-aircraft gun, field guns, and a replica Horsa glider.