A THEATRICAL production telling the story of a daring and triumphant operation during the opening moments of D-Day will be performed in Oxford on Monday to raise funds for a charity called Project 65.

The Pegasus Bridge Show, written and narrated by Michael Bawtree, an ex-serviceman who served in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, is based on Operation Coup-de-Main — where a small party of British servicemen crash-landed into France to seize the Pegasus and Horsa Bridges in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The production draws on regimental histories, war records and personal knowledge of the men involved in the operation.

Mr Bawtree, 71, who attended Radley College, near Abingdon, and Worcester College, Oxford, served with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Cyprus in the late 1950s.

He said it had been a privilege to write the show.He added: “It’s a story of a very exciting adventure which took place just after midnight on D-Day and involved 180 men in six gliders.

“They landed and captured two bridges behind enemy lines.

“It was thought to be a suicide mission, but they caught the enemy by surprise. Two men were killed and 14 were wounded – a relatively small amount of people.

“It’s an incredible story.”

Mr Bawtree, a former resident of Horton-cum-Studley, said the show placed the raid in the context of cross-channel invasions since 1066.

He added: “I’m particularly interested because I met quite a few of the people who were involved in the raid. They use to talk about it a lot.”

Project 65 is celebrating the 65th Anniversary of D-Day next year by trying to raise £500,000 for the Royal British Legion, Army Benevolent Fund, RAF Benevolent, British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association, St Dunstan’s and Help for Heroes.

Some of the money will also fund a small memorial in Normandy bearing the name of every man who took part in Operation Coup-de-Main.

Project 65 president General Sir Robert Pascoe encouraged anyone interested in the Second World War to see the show.

He said: “It’s amazing, absolutely first class.”

Actor and Second World War veteran Richard Todd is also expected to attend Monday’s performance.

Mr Todd, 89, appeared in The Longest Day (1962), and played Major John Howard, the man who led Operation Coup-de-Main and, by coincidence, a policeman in Oxford prior to the war.

The Pegasus Bridge Show will be performed at Oxford Town Hall in St Aldate’s at 7pm.

l For tickets, which cost £25, call 0871 230 5538 or visit the website seetickets.com