Jun. 7, 2019

Canadians played a prominent role in Normandy invasion

I Was At Juno Beach in 2000 and there was nothing there to indicate Canadians were there.

It was one of the most profound feelings of emptiness I have ever experienced. And it is still almost as fresh this moment.

I did not know my country had nothing there to commemorate our soldiers’ valiant landing and assault on the enemy positions on June 6, 1944.

The Juno Beach Centre was built in 12003. On the centre’s website is the inscription:

“The Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s Second World War museum and cultural centre located in Normandy, France. The Centre pays homage to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the war, of whom 5,500 were killed during the Battle of Normandy and 359 on D-Day. Opened in 2003 by veterans and volunteers with a vision to create a permanent memorial to all Canadians who served during the Second World War, the Centre’s mandate is to preserve this legacy for future generations through education and remembrance.”

I remember coming home from France that year and hearing about the efforts of the Royal Canadian Legion and others to get the centre built. I remember the attempts of volunteers and the Legion to convince the Canadian Federal Government to play their part.

Imagine it took 60 years to get an appropriate place where our soldiers could be adequately remembered.

As we witness today the many attacks on our past by misguided individuals (we remember the removal of the statue of our first Prime Minister from Victoria City’s Hall’s entrance way) one wonders whether the denigration of those who served to defend freedom can be very far behind.

Let us remember what the Juno Centre says:

"The Canadian soldiers who landed on D-Day came from across the country.

The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division made the seaborne assault supported by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade.

At Courseulles, the Western Canadian battalions of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade made the assault.

The tanks of the 1st Hussars from London, Ontario supported the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, the Regina Rifle Regiment, and the Canadian Scottish Regiment from Victoria, British Columbia.

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada from Toronto assaulted Bernières while the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment landed nearby to attack Saint-Aubin.

Tanks from the Fort Garry Horse, raised in the Winnipeg area, supported both attacks. Le Régiment de la Chaudière, from the Québec City area, was the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade’s reserve and came ashore behind the Queen’s Own.

The Highland regiments of the 9th Brigade were in reserve and landed at Bernières later on June 6. They included the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, the Highland Light Infantry of Canada (Waterloo County, Ontario), and the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders from southeastern Ontario.

The Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment from Québec formed the armoured reserve.

Newfoundland was not yet a part of Canada in 1944. Nevertheless, many Newfoundlanders joined the Canadian military. Others joined the armed forces in Newfoundland and served in Normandy with the 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery or at sea with the Royal Navy.

Your Canadian city, town, village, or county was probably represented on D-Day, even if just by a handful of servicemen. A visit to your local Legion hall or Cenotaph might uncover some clues."

We invite your comments at editor@nanaimonet.com

COMMENT

Very good editorial Brian. I watched the D-Day 75 years and it was a honorable presentation. My question is, "Why is this part of our history not part of the school curriculum"?  Our school system sadly lacks what is our history – Gloria Saunders