The Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 were undoubtedly the most complex military operation ever orchestrated.
On 6 June 1944, also known as D-Day, the Allied forces launched Operation Overlord, the code name for the Battle of Normandy. More than 6 000 warships, transport vessels and landing craft carried the liberating land forces across the Channel, while thousands of aircraft supported this armada.
On June 6, 1944, 14000 of the 135000 Allies who landed or parachuted into Normandy were Canadians.
After the United States and Great Britain, Canada contributed the largest number of troops to the D-Day assault. Canadian casualties totalled 1074 men, of whom 381 were killed. The 10-week campaign in Normandy resulted in over 18000 Canadian casualties; of these, approximately 5500 were killed. Most are buried in the two Canadian cemeteries at Bény-sur-Mer-Reviers and Cintheaux-Bretteville-sur-Laize.
The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade assaulted the stretch of beach codenamed Juno, capturing the coastal towns of Graye-sur-Mer, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer and part of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer. Courseulles was liberated by the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, consisting of the Regina Rifles, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, and the Canadian Scottish regiments, supported by the First Hussars Tanks, the 12th and 13th Field Regiments and the Royal Canadian Engineers. By the evening of D-Day, the Canadians were firmly established some 12 kilometres inland.
This Canadian landing site still has many visible traces of the past. A tourist map has been published which features all of these historic vestiges and memorial sites in Terres de Nacre :
Things to see in the Canadian Juno Sector
The Juno Beach Centre
The Juno Beach Centre is not just the only Canadian Second World War museum in Europe but it is also a place for education that has been left as a legacy by the veterans who participated in its creation. The Ministry of Canadian Heritage has designated this site to be of national historic significance to Canada. It is also a place where many Canadians pay tribute and reflect on their own history.
Credit : Ph. Delval
The Queen’s own rifles of Canada – The first house in France to be liberated on 6th June 1944 during the Normandy Landings, this early 20th century Anglo-Norman house was taken over by the army regiment The Queen’s Own Riffles of Canada early in the morning. It stands facing Juno beach and can be seen on numerous photos taken on D-Day and in many commemorative films.
Canadian War Cemetery in Bény-sur-mer/ Reviers
It is in this Bény-sur-Mer Reviers Canadian War Cemetery that the 335 soldiers of the 3rd Canadian Division who landed on 6 June 1944 in the Juno Beach area and were engaged in the fighting are buried. Most of these buried soldiers were killed in June and early July 1944 during the Battle of Caen and on D-Day in the terrible fighting on the beach. The Canadian prisoners of war executed by the SS-Panzer Hitlerjugend at the Abbey of Ardenne are also buried in this cemetery. Also buried in the 2,049 graves are 1,694 Canadian soldiers and 15 airmen who fell in the fighting on the advance into the interior, as well as one airman, three British soldiers and one French soldier.
More information about the D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
To be seen in the section :
- 3 apps to discover D-DAYThrough 3 free web applications and dozens of audio testimonies, archive images and videos, dive into the heart of this […]
- 5 good reasons to visit the Juno Beach Centre with your familyHave you decided to take the children to visit the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy? You’re right! It is by […]
- Our main D-DAY sitesWith over 200 remains and museums from the Second World War in Normandy, it’s not easy to know where to start. The Juno Sector might […]