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Juno Beach, 6 June 1944

Juno Beach, 6 June 1944



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Juno Beach, 6 June 1944

The landing on Juno Beach was the main Canadian contribution on D-Day, and saw the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade overcome some of the strongest German defences and a late arrival to achieve the deepest penetration into France of any Allied troops on 6 June (Operation Overlord).

Juno and Gold Beaches were the only two of the five Allied landing zones to be in direct contact with each other, with the boundary drawn just to the east of la Rivière. Despite this the Canadian troops landing on Juno Beach were part of the British 1st Corps (General John Crocker), as was the Britsh 3rd Division, further to the east on Sword. 1st Corps had the task of capturing Caen, the most ambitious of the D-Day objectives, even before the German 21st Panzer Division moved into the area.

Juno and Gold Beaches were physically similar, rising gently to an area of low flat ground. A series of coastal resort villages lined the beaches, and the Germans had constructed many of their defences within the villages. The beach was split in two by the Seulles Rive, which flows into the sea just to the west of Courseulles.

The Canadian 7th Brigade landed west of the Seulles River, with the Royal Winnipeg Regiment and the Regina Rifles in the first wave, the Canadian 1st Hussars providing the DD tanks and the Canadian Scottish in reserve.

The Canadian 8th Brigade landed east of the river, with the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and the North Shore Regiment in the lead, Le Regiment de la Chaudiere in reserve and the Fort Garry Horse providing the DD tanks.

The beach was defended by elements of Generalleutnant Wilhelm Richter's 716th Infantry Division. About 400 German and eastern European troops manned the defences on Juno Beach (the first wave of attackers was 2,400 strong).

The Canadians were meant to have landed at 7.45am, later than on any other beach, but the rough seas meant they were delayed even further, giving the tide time to rise far enough for some of the German beach obstructions to become effective. The delay also meant that there was gap between the end of the naval bombardment and the actual landings. Only about 14% of the bunkers were destroyed by the naval guns, but where there was a shorter gap between the gunfire stopping and the landings the occupants of many bunkers were still suffering from shock. At Juno they had time to recover and man their guns.

An unusually high proportion of landing craft were sunk or damaged during the landings on Juno beach, but the mines were often not powerful enough to stop them from reaching the beach. On the Canadian left the first three craft were all blow up, but only three men were killed, and the rest reached the beach.

Crossing the beach was the most dangerous part of the assault. A high proportion of the total casualties suffered during the day came during the dash from the landing craft to the cover provided by the sea wall. Here the parallels with Omaha Beach end. The Canadian's were supported by a much higher proportion of their armour than on Omaha Beach, there was no shingle bank to block the tanks and no bluff to give the defenders the advantage of height. On the right the DD tanks played an important part in the fighting, clearing a number of German strongpoints before the second wave of tanks arrived. On the left the infantry were able to clear the Germans out of Courselles and Bernières so quickly that neither the tanks nor the Régiment de la Chaudière found much to do on the beach.

By 9.30 the flail tanks had opened up routes through the minefields on both sides of the Seulles, and the Canadians began to advance through the virtually undefended countryside behind their beaches. The advance inland was slower than had been hoped, and only one tank unit managed to reach their final D-Day objective – the Caen to Bayeux road – before being forced to pull back by a lack of support.

The delay was caused by a mix of factors, key amongst them terrible congestion on the beach as the rapid build-up of armour and vehicles overwhelmed the exits; the knowledge that the 21st Panzer Division was in the area – a small force of German tanks advanced into the gap between the Canadians on Juno and the British to their east on Sword Beach, but retreated when a massive formation of gliders flew overhead carrying reinforcements for the airborne division; and the over ambitious plans for D-Day, which did at least have the benefit of making sure there was no repeat of the stalemate at Anzio. The decision not to attempt to push on to Caen on the first day was almost certainly correct – as it was the Canadians had to fight off a major counterattack on D-Day+1, which would have been much more dangerous if the Canadian 9th Brigade, which had made the most progress towards Caen, had been any more advanced.

By the end of the day 21,400 men had landed on Juno Beach and the Canadians had advanced further inland than any other Allied troops, at the cost of 1,200 casualties. The Canadian victory on D-Day more than made up for the disaster at Dieppe two years earlier.


Sword Beach

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Sword Beach, the easternmost beach of the five landing areas of the Normandy Invasion of World War II. It was assaulted on June 6, 1944 (D-Day of the invasion), by units of the British 3rd Division, with French and British commandos attached. Shortly after midnight on D-Day morning, elements of the 6th Airborne Division, in a daring glider-borne assault, seized bridges inland from the beach and also silenced artillery pieces that threatened the seaborne landing forces.


the “only son”, “the last son to carry the family name,” and ” sole surviving son” must register with Selective Service. These sons can be drafted. However, they may be entitled to peacetime deferment if there is a military death in the immediate family.

Brothers serve together in special forces unit, carry on generations of service. FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Family members serving simultaneously in the military is rare, but even more uncommon is two siblings serving together in the same active-duty unit. In 3rd Special Forces Group, this rarity has become a reality.


Juno Beach - June 6, 1944 - D Day

Taking Juno was the responsibility of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, and commandos of the Royal Marines, all under the command of British I Corps, with support from Naval Force J, the Juno contingent of the invasion fleet, including the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The beach was defended by two battalions of the German 716th Infantry Division, with elements of the 21st Panzer Division held in reserve near Caen.

The subsequent push inland towards Carpiquet and the Caen�yeux railway line achieved mixed results. The sheer numbers of men and vehicles on the beaches created lengthy delays between the landing of the 9th Brigade and the beginning of substantive attacks to the south. The 7th Brigade encountered heavy initial opposition before pushing south and making contact with the 50th Infantry Division at Creully. The 8th Brigade encountered heavy resistance from a battalion of the 716th at Tailleville, while the 9th Brigade deployed towards Carpiquet early in the evening. Resistance in Saint-Aubin prevented the Royal Marines from establishing contact with the British 3rd Division on Sword. When all operations on the Anglo-Canadian front were ordered to halt at 21:00, by which time The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada had reached its D-Day objective, and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division had succeeded in pushing farther inland than any other landing force on D-Day.


Juno Beach, 6 June 1944 - History

U.S. Army infantry men approaching Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. The first waves of American fighters were cut down in droves by enemy machine gun fire as they scrambled across the mine-riddled beach. Source: history.com. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 American, British and Canadian troops stormed 50 miles of Normandy’s fiercely defended beaches in northern France in an operation that proved to be a critical turning point in World War II. Source: history.com. Galerie Bilderwilt/Getty Images

On this day, June 6, 1944, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the go-ahead for the largest amphibious military operation in history: Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of northern France, commonly known as D-Day.

By daybreak, 18,000 British and American parachutists were already on the ground. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion. At 6:30 a.m., American troops came ashore at Utah and Omaha beaches.

The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno and Sword beaches so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where the U.S. First Division battled high seas, mist, mines, burning vehicles—and German coastal batteries, including an elite infantry division, which spewed heavy fire. Many wounded Americans ultimately drowned in the high tide. British divisions, which landed at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches, and Canadian troops also met with heavy German fire.

But by day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches and were then able to push inland. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.

But by day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches and were then able to push inland. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east.

Before the Allied assault, Hitler’s armies had been in control of most of mainland Europe and the Allies knew that a successful invasion of the continent was central to winning the war. Hitler knew this too, and was expecting an assault on northwestern Europe in the spring of 1944. He hoped to repel the Allies from the coast with a strong counterattack that would delay future invasion attempts, giving him time to throw the majority of his forces into defeating the Soviet Union in the east. Once that was accomplished, he believed an all-out victory would soon be his.

For their part, the Germans suffered from confusion in the ranks and the absence of celebrated commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was away on leave. At first, Hitler, believing that the invasion was a feint designed to distract the Germans from a coming attack north of the Seine River, refused to release nearby divisions to join the counterattack and reinforcements had to be called from further afield, causing delays.

He also hesitated in calling for armored divisions to help in the defense. In addition, the Germans were hampered by effective Allied air support, which took out many key bridges and forced the Germans to take long detours, as well as efficient Allied naval support, which helped protect advancing Allied troops.

Though D-Day did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery–for example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France–the invasion was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe.

The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO series Band of Brothers (2001).


Trippy pictures of the Canadians on Juno Beach, June 6, 1944

Nitpicking here, but the article uses the wrong Canadian flag.

Yes, they are displaying the modern Canadian flag, instead of the Red Ensign, which was used until 1965.

Fuckin' hell those gravemarkers really get me.

18, 20, 22.. So easy to forget how young they were

Thanks for sharing this! When I look at pictures of Canadians during the war I can't help but wonder if my relatives are in them.

As a Canadian I am always so proud of Juno beach and I point it out any time people bring up D-day. Great job guys, seriously great job.

This is cool. I am not seeing a lot of bodies. Was Juno Beach not a bloody battle?

It was the bloodiest beach after Omaha, but still nowhere near as costly as Omaha. 340 died on the beaches, compared to perhaps 2,500 at Omaha. If you go and walk along Juno though (and Gold and Sword) you'll see the entire coastline is bristling with thick anti-tank bunkers of the same kind found on Omaha, backed by mutually supporting machine gun bunkers. The Canadians at Juno were able to penetrate the small seaside towns and come to grips with the German defenders quickly, attacking the bunkers from the land side.

What made Omaha so bloody was the failure of tank support to show up on time for the most part, the topography and the addition of a few extra companies of Germans at the last minute to stiffen the defense. The Americans were faced with a bluff that extended essentially the whole length of the beach and made it very easily defensible. Quite frankly, after going there and seeing it, it's remarkable they captured the beach at all.

You'll be able to see just what I'm talking about when I launch the Omaha Beach page shortly.

Almost all of the pictures were taken hours after the fighting, and casualties would have been long evacuated (you see in one picture wounded being cared for behind the sea wall).

This is awesome, can't wait for the others.

Wow very cool! You probably already seen this OP but.

This is an incredible website - not only for the Juno Beach photos as a Canadian with a grandfather in WWII, but also a west coaster, I'm really enjoying the Victoria and Vancouver pages. And so much information to go along with the photos! Thank you so much for creating and sharing all of this. I note that your donation link says that it's ɾxtended' - is it limited to time at all? (Just checking as it's gonna be way easier to budget a small donation out of next paycheck than this paycheck, but if it's time limited then dammit, I'll find a way.)

Why are the bunkers pointing towards land rather than towards the beach? The were obviously effective at taking out many tanks, but I would think that you would point the bunker towards the direction of invasion.

Those bunkers had heavy walls facing the sea to protect against navel bombardment.

I just want to point that.

In the 60 days after D Day, the Canadians suffered huge losses, in some Infantry units, the entire unit was either DEAD, wounded and in a rear hospital, or captured and a POW. In military terms that is know as Unable to Fight, Unfit for further use.

In the first 30 days, after D Day, the Canadian Artillery units who were supporting the Infantry, Armour, and Engineers, fired an amazing ONE million rounds of ammunition at the Germans. The gunners were firing around the clock, and on many occasions they were asked to fire ON the grid references of their OWN men, to stop a German counter attack. As long as you were dug in, below ground level, you MIGHT survive the shelling. If you were in the open as the Germans were, you would be killed.

The gunners not only fired their medium and heavy guns, they also had to unload the supply trucks, and carry the artillery round to the gun pits, usually 2 or 3 hundred yards from the road, into a field where the guns were set up. Then remove the rounds from their carrying cases, check the fuses, and stack them for use.

The plan was that on Day three, the Canadians would be in Caen. that actually took a month ! July and August were some of the toughest fighting that we were involved in during the entire war. We faced and defeated the very best that the Nazis had to offer. And we kept on doing it, day after day for the next 11 months, though Belgium, Holland, and finally across the Rhine into Germany.

Lets not forget the "D Day Dodgers " who had been fighting the Germans in in Sicily, and into Italy, since August of 1943. They got to fight in the "Spaghetti League " as they called it. Ignored by the press, so for their sins, after Italy was wrapped up, they got to go to Northwest Europe, for the water war.

For a relatively small population, less than 8 million in 1939, we really fought above our weight, and became a truly professional military force. To be able to field TWO complete Army groups, one in Italy, and another in France, at the same time, was quite an accomplishment. With about 900,000 Canadian men overseas, we were a force to be respected. Leaving 46,000 men behind in over 66 countries is our debt to the Vets. Lest We Forget.


On June 6th, 1944, John Ford commanded a film crew on Omaha Beach. Most of the footage was accidentally dropped overboard.

During World War II, Hollywood directors such as John Huston and John Ford volunteered for service with the military (Army, and Navy, respectively), where their talents were put to the best use, namely making movies. They, and others, were tasked with creating films for domestic consumption to bring the war home to American audiences, in other words, propaganda. Ford, for instance, shot the film "Battle of Midway", during the fight itself, although in part it was sheer luck he was present, the Navy having already sent him there to shoot more tranquil footage. He recalled the irony afterwards that "I think at the time there was some report of some action impending but [. ] I didn’t think it was going to touch us. So I [. ] spent about 12 hours a day in work, had a good time up there.

By far most famously though was D-Day. The Allies intended to thoroughly document their triumph there, and several hundred ships were equipped with movie cameras, as were some 50 landing craft, all constantly rolling and not needing human touch. In addition, Ford , along with George Stevens, was given film crews to be sent on in with the troops, part of a documentary force that numbered in the hundreds when you include still photographers (Ford was attached to the Navy and OSS, Stevens to the Army, and coordinated very little). Stevens run shooting at Juno Beach with the British [To clarify, yes, Canadians landed on Juno. Stevens was working off of a Royal Navy ship], while Ford was in charge for Omaha, where the most intense fighting was. He would actually refuse to talk about it for many years after, but did eventually offer his recollections:

Once I was on the beach I ran forward and started placing some of my men behind things so they’d have a chance to expose their film. I know it doesn’t sound blazingly dramatic. [. ] To tell the truth I was too busy doing what I had to do for a cohesive picture of what I did to register in my mind. We stayed on the job and worked that day and for several other days and nights too.

Ironically, for all their efforts, almost none of the footage would see the light of day, for several unfortunate causes. In the first, much of the footage was destroyed, packed into a duffle-bag that was accidentally dropped into the water! As for what little remained, after being processed in London a few days later, at least according to Ford "[a]pparently the government was afraid to show so many casualties on screen." The camera crews hadn't held back, and it was simply too real for the people back home, it would seem. It was not entirely lost though. Those familiar with the story from Stephen Ambrose's book on D-Day will likely only know the conclusion at that point, when no one knew where the footage was still, but since that time, some of it was, in fact, rediscovered in US government storage, although just how much remains unclear, and almost none of that has ever been released

As detailed in this 2000 article from Time:

Yet somehow Ford's footage was lost until 1998, when Melvyn R. Paisley, a World War II aviator and Reagan-era Assistant Secretary of the Navy, found a few canisters of the missing film deep within the National Archives. Spielberg, whose father had also served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and who would win the Best Director Oscar for his own D-day movie, Saving Private Ryan, was intrigued when he read about Paisley's find in the New Yorker.

So intrigued, in fact, that he recruited documentary maker and TIME film critic Richard Schickel and immediately started hunting for more raw footage from World War II. With Paisley's help, they amassed 600 hours' worth and began editing the remarkable trove. The result is Shooting War, a spectacularly conceived and haunting 90-min. documentary that premieres June 5 [2000], in conjunction with the opening of the National D-Day Museum, at a conference sponsored by the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans.

The Shooting War, at least, is on YouTube, but it is about war photographers during WWII, not D-Day, so the actual D-Day footage is only a small part. This is the timestamp for when D-Day starts up. What parts are actually Ford's team's footage seems to be unclear, as much of it was legitimately lost, Paisley only recovering part of it. This I think is when it starts, as as you can see, it is quite brief, shot by a cameraman who was wounded and evacuatted early on, presumably keeping his footage out of the cursed duffle.

Other D-Day footage of course exists. The aforementioned George Stevens, similarly tasked to run shooting at Juno Beach, also has surviving footage, some of which is excerpted here for instance. But the Omaha footage is almost entirely lost to the ages.

More broadly focused on the Hollywood men who contributed by shooting the war, "Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War" by Mark Harris is a book on the topic, focusing on Ford and Huston, as well as Frank Capra, George Stevens, and William Wyler, who were also involved in the war effort.

Additionally, an extensive interview by Ford was given in 1964 which expands upon the above quotations. He was speaking with Peter Martin, and it was published in The American Legion Magazine, Volume 76, No. 6 (June 1964). Conversely though, Ford's account must be balanced by allegations that his recollections were mostly fabricated. While he certainly was assigned to run the filming, he may very well have done so while never setting foot on the beach!:

"How would I describe my job?" John Ford said, when I asked him. "Unofficially, I was in charge of cinemaphotography, but in all honesty I was really more or less a logistic officer. It was up to me to see that everybody who should have a camera had one. I take my hat off to my Coast Guard kids. They were impressive. They went in first, not to fight, but to photograph. They went with the troops. They were with the first ones ashore. They filmed some wonderful material. Fortunately, most of them came through well. There were a few casualties. I lost some men. It is a coincidence that one of the cameramen who works for me today — his name is Archie Stout — had a son in my outfit. He was one of the two photographers who rode ashore on a Phoenix concrete breakwater. He rode his Phoenix all the way over from England photographing everything in sight. He did a fine job riding that big box. He got a Silver Star for it. Later, he was to be flown back to England to sign his papers for a commission for which he certainly qualified in every way. On his way, even before heɽ left France, a lone German fighter popped out of nowhere and shot him down. He's buried there in a cemetery where the landing was. That cemetery was a new one and Stout's was one of the first graves there. I've been back to it several times to leave flowers.

"I think it's amazing that I lost no more, when you consider how much some of them were exposed to fire, although I wouldn't let them stand up. I made them lie behind cover to do their photographing. Nevertheless, they didn't have arms, just cameras, and to me, facing the enemy defenseless takes a special kind of bravery. When a man is armed with a gun he's probably much braver than if he doesn't have one.

"In action, I didn't tell my boys where to aim their cameras. They took whatever they could. Once they got ashore they just started photographing our troops in different groups rushing to their assigned places. Not that they rushed wildly, they rushed with a definite purpose. After they got ashore, they made for a certain objective. There was no panic or running around. I've often wondered why they didn't run faster. Probably they weighed too much with all their equipment on. They hurried, but there was no frantic dash, just a steady dogtrot.

"I remember meeting Col. Red J. Reeder on the beach. I knew him well and I met him a long time later when I went to West Point to do a picture. The Long Gray Line. On D-Day, Red was sitting with one leg smashed so badly it had to be amputated. 'Got any orange juice?' he asked me. I said, 'Orange juice! What the hell would I be doing carrying orange juice? How- about a shot of brandy?' We had been issued little bottles of brandy in case anybody needed it. Doggedly he said, 'No, I want orange juice.' I said. Colonel, I'm afraid that's something I can't get you, but I can help you get back to our ship which is close in. Once there you can get some aid.' He said, 'No, I just want some orange juice.' Red and I had a laugh about that long afterward at West Point. In a moment of crisis, people get funny fixations. I asked him, 'Why didn't you take that brandy?' He said, i don't know. It's the first time in my life I ever refused a drink of hard liquor. All of a sudden I was pure. As a matter of fact, I don't even like orange juice.' He was in shock, and as I've said, they had to cut off his leg in an emergency operation.

"The film my men took was processed in London, in both color and black-and-white. Most of it was in Kodachrome. It was transferred to black-and-white for release in the news weeklies in movie theaters. All of it still exists today in color in storage in Anacostia near Washington, D.C. My cutting unit was in London, too. They worked 24-hour watches, picking out the best part of the film that had been shot. I'm sure it was the biggest cutting job of all time including the cutting done for the recent picture Cleopatra. The cutters worked four-hour shifts — on four, off four. Allen Brown, the producer, now a captain in the Reserve, was in charge. There were literally millions of feet of film. When Brown's unit saw something they liked, they pressed a button, and put clips on that portion of film. When they cut the stuff all they did was cut at the places marked by those clips. It saved a lot of time. Very little was released to the public then — apparently the Government was afraid to show so manv American casualties on the screen. After all. even The New York Times best-seller list that summer had only six 'war books' on it out of a total of 30.

"As I've said, I don't think I ever saw more than a dozen men at one time on that beach. That's all my eye could take in. For that matter. I don't think any- body on the beach saw more than 20 at the outside. After all. they all were at- tacking in small groups. They were trained to do that. The first wave consisted of about 3.000 men. and not all of them got ashore alive. Numerically, that wasn't so many really.


Well after the visceral gritty appeal of Ortona, where I felt like I was there with the soldiers whose stories I came to know and love (and gave 5 stars), this was just OK. So many brigades, means so many regiments, means so many C Companys for example. The techniques of drilling down to such specificity of personnel sort of worked, and it was great to know when an action resulted in a Military Medal or a Military Cross right as you read about that soldier, but the same attachment and "coming to Well after the visceral gritty appeal of Ortona, where I felt like I was there with the soldiers whose stories I came to know and love (and gave 5 stars), this was just OK. So many brigades, means so many regiments, means so many C Companys for example. The techniques of drilling down to such specificity of personnel sort of worked, and it was great to know when an action resulted in a Military Medal or a Military Cross right as you read about that soldier, but the same attachment and "coming to life" just didnt work at the company and regimental level, because there were just too many, the subject matter too big. Just like the beach, it was a big confused mess as to who was where and why.

I had already bought The next book in the series about defending Juno (what a great idea, by the way - a book about the immediate aftermath, not just the landing day itself), but I need a break. . more

Canadian soldiers were a big part of the D-Day invasion in WWII. They were to take Juno Beach while the British took Gold and Sword Beaches and the Americans took Omaha and Utah Beaches.

This is a very detailed account of the Canadian troops as they fought for Juno Beach and made their way inland on June 6, 1944. I did have a little bit of trouble with some of military terminology, but I might have done a bit better with it (and possibly rated it higher) if I&aposd been reading at home wit 3.5 stars

Canadian soldiers were a big part of the D-Day invasion in WWII. They were to take Juno Beach while the British took Gold and Sword Beaches and the Americans took Omaha and Utah Beaches.

This is a very detailed account of the Canadian troops as they fought for Juno Beach and made their way inland on June 6, 1944. I did have a little bit of trouble with some of military terminology, but I might have done a bit better with it (and possibly rated it higher) if I'd been reading at home with less distractions. I certainly ended the book feeling proud to be Canadian. The author has a couple more books focusing on the days following D-Day, so I have added one of them to my tbr. Just after Remembrance Day was a good time to read this. . more

Strongly focused on the personal experiences of wide cast of participants at the expense of an understanding of the plan, the tactics and context. Some loose ends are left dangling - probably to create interest for the follow-on volumes relating the continued experiences of Canadian forces i Normandy and NW Europe.

The author admits that this is intentional and perhaps an account like the official history should be read prior to studying this volume.

This is a must-read for everybody interested in WWII. The Canadian landing on Juno Beach isn&apost as well known as the American or British landings.

Juno Beach: &aposHowever the figures are examined, it is indisputable that the battle for Juno Beach was won at a loss in men killed or wounded that was only exceeded by that of the Americans at Omaha.&apos
This is a must-read for everybody interested in WWII. The Canadian landing on Juno Beach isn't as well known as the American or British landings.

Juno Beach: 'However the figures are examined, it is indisputable that the battle for Juno Beach was won at a loss in men killed or wounded that was only exceeded by that of the Americans at Omaha.'
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NB: I read the eBook version, which may be different from the hardcover.

A quick, informative, journalistic view of Canada&aposs involvement in the D-Day operation, Juno Beach. Zuehlke&aposs style makes for a well-documented overview of this complex operation, and would do well as a text for schools. NB: I read the eBook version, which may be different from the hardcover.

A quick, informative, journalistic view of Canada's involvement in the D-Day operation, Juno Beach. Zuehlke's style makes for a well-documented overview of this complex operation, and would do well as a text for schools. . more


Juno Beach: Day of Courage

Canadian infantrymen landing on a beach in Normandy. Canadian infantry landing from invasion barges in Normandy. Canadian troops disembark from landing craft in an orderly manner onto beachhead in Normandy. Canadian soldiers in amphibious tank arriving in Normandy, June-July 1944.

Juno was the randomly chosen code name for a 10 km stretch of coastline that included the villages of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer and Bernières-sur-Mer and the small port town of Courseulles-sur-Mer. Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” was much less impressive in Normandy than on the English Channel coast but the beach defences included a series of fortified resistance nests and an elaborate strong point at Courseulles where the Juno Beach Centre is located now.

Hitler and his generals neglected Normandy partly because of an elaborate British deception scheme that leaked information designed to reinforce their own ideas about the location of the attack. Hitler and his intelligence agencies thought that “Garbo,” a British-controlled agent, was a reliable source of information on Allied intentions and continued to believe his reports about a second invasion front long after D-Day. The Allies were able to track the success of their deception thanks to Ultra, the top-secret information obtained from decrypting the enemy’s coded radio transmissions. Ultra provided regular updates on enemy strengths and locations, confirming hopes that the Normandy landings had a good chance of success if the enemy were taken by surprise.

If Operation Neptune, the assault phase of Operation Overlord (the code name for the Normandy invasion), were to succeed the beach defences could not be subjected to air and naval bombardment until shortly before H-Hour on D-Day. The terms D-Day and H-Hour were used for all military operations. Since the actual date might change, D signified the day the attack began and H the hour, allowing planners to refer to the day before as D-1 (D minus 1). Likewise, the hour before was referred to as H-1, thus outlining the tasks to be conducted before and during the battle.

D-Day for Normandy was originally 5 June, but it was postponed for 24 hours due to weather. General Eisenhower gambled on a more favourable weather forecast for the next morning and the battle to liberate Western Europe began on 6 June. While the improved weather allowed the landing ships to reach the right beaches at more or less the right time, overcast skies limited air support and at Juno, as well as Omaha, no serious damage was done to the beach defences.

Sergeant Charlie Martin’s description of the Queen’s Own Rifles (QOR) assault on Nan White Beach, the code name for the section of beach near Bernières-sur-Mer, where he found no sign of bombardment, paints a hauntingly accurate picture of the landings:

“As we moved farther from the mother ship and closer to the shore it came as a shock to realize that the assault fleet behind us had disappeared from view. Suddenly there was just us and an awful lot of ocean. Ten boats stretched out over fifteen hundred yards is not really a whole lot of assault force. The boats began to look even tinier as the gaps widened with more than the length of a football field between them.”

When the order “down ramp” came at Nan White Beach, there was nothing to do but race for the sea wall, enduring the heavy machine gun and mortar fire. There was no sign of the Duplex Drive tanks, which had not been launched because of sea conditions. The armour was only able to offer fire support during the final stages of the struggle to subdue the Bernières’s resistance nest. By 0845 both reserve companies were moving toward the forward edge of the town and the reserve battalion, Le Régiment de la Chaudière, had landed. The QORs had cracked through the Atlantic Wall in less than one hour. The cost of 61 killed and 76 wounded was the highest price paid by any Canadian battalion of D-Day.

Infantrymen of Le Régiment de la Chaudiu00e8re resting behind a Universal Carrier in a low ground position along the Normandy beachhead in June 1944.

The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment was able to land both assault companies with fewer casualties than the QOR’s, but the resistance nest, with its 50 mm anti-tank gun, mortars and machine guns, was still completely intact and delivering continuous and accurate fire. The company assigned to clear the position found that all approaches were covered by machine guns and by snipers who could move underground as well as from house to house. Without armour, this was a tough proposition, but a battalion 6-pounder antitank gun was brought forward and one pillbox was put out of action by two direct hits. The 2-inch mortars were also used effectively before the first armour — an AVRE mounting a Petard, and the Fort Garry tanks — arrived to complete the work (see Armaments).

The 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade and the tanks of the First Hussars were to land on the beaches at Courseulles-sur-Mer to capture a strong point that contained one 88 mm gun, one 75 mm gun and two 50s. Two additional 75s were positioned on the town’s flanks to cover the approaches. Twelve machine gun pillboxes, fortified mortar emplacements, and large protective shelters added to the defences, making Courseulles one of the most heavily fortified positions attacked on D-Day.

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, landing on the west side of the River Seulles, found the enemy defences untouched by the bombardment. Their War Diary entry reads:

“0749 hrs. In spite of air bombardment failing to neutralize, RN bombardment spotty, the rockets falling short and the AVREs and DDs being late C Company Canadian Scottish Regiment and RWR companies landed all within seven minutes. The bombardment having failed to kill a single German soldier or silence one weapon these companies had to storm their positions cold and did so without hesitation. Not one man flinched from his task.”

Francis Godon at training camp in North Bay, Ontario, 1942.

(courtesy Francis Godon/The Memory Project)

The Daynard family contributed to the war effort in both World Wars. This collage contains photo of Mr. Kenneth Daynard and his father, uncle, and cousins, all of whom served in the Canadian Armed Forces. (courtesy The Memory Project)

East of the river, the Regina Rifles’ experience paralleled that of their sister regiment from Winnipeg. No damage had been done to any of the defences, and there was no apparent neutralization as the Reginas came under fire before touchdown. The men of the German 716 Infantry Division were stunned by the noise and volume of fire but were in position when the Regina company came ashore directly in front of the strong point. The Regina’s were immediately pinned down by heavy fire. The First Hussars launched 19 DD tanks at 2,000 yards and 14 made it to the beach without sinking but they landed well to the east of the strong point. Lieutenant Bill Grayson saved the situation by taking out a machine gun post and then capturing the 88 mm gun position. This incredible feat, which won Grayson the Military Cross, allowed the rest of his company to clear the strong point, which took most of the morning.

No one who examines the events of the first hours of D-Day can fail to be impressed by the accomplishments of the assault battalions. Most of the elaborate fire-support plan failed, leaving the infantry, combat engineers, and armoured troopers to overcome the enemy by direct fire. It took incredible courage just to keep going words cannot do justice to the individuals who rose to the challenge and led assaults on deadly enemy positions.


D-Day by the hour: A timeline of Operation Overlord in Normandy

4:27 D-Day invasion leaves lasting impression of compassion, camaraderie for veteran Norm Kirby
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D-Day was a pivotal moment in the Second World War, when thousands of British, American and Canadian soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy to gain a foothold in Nazi-controlled Europe on June 6, 1944.

The D-Day invasion of Normandy took a tremendous amount of co-ordination to pull off from the Allied stronghold of Britain, which was one of the few European territories not under Adolf Hitler‘s control. Germany had effectively conquered the mainland in 1940, and the Allies needed to take some of it back in order to defeat the Nazis.

Nearly 133,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel in a fleet of more than 5,000 amphibious ships, with 1,213 warships defending them at sea. The Allies also dispatched approximately 4,000 bombers and 3,700 fighter-bombers to hammer the enemy’s coastal defences.

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The cross-Channel invasion was called Operation Neptune, while the overarching plan to invade mainland Europe was dubbed Operation Overlord.

Here’s how the battle played out, hour by hour. All times are local.

June 5, 1944 — The original D-Day

The Allies originally plan to invade Normandy on June 5. However, U.S. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the Allied supreme commander, decides to postpone the invasion by 24 hours due to poor weather conditions. Eisenhower worries the weather will be a problem for the Allied landing ships when they cross the English Channel.

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The Allies have a massive force of troops, planes and ships gathered in Britain, but they conceal their invasion plans by deploying dummy armies throughout the U.K. to threaten other German targets across the water. They set up fake tanks and stage fake radio chatter at several points, including Dover, which is across the water from German-held Pas-de-Calais. The ruse convinces the Germans that Calais is the Allies’ true target.

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June 5 — 10 p.m.

Approximately 7,000 ships leave Britain under cover of darkness. The ships are loaded with Allied troops primarily from Britain, the United States and Canada.

The soldiers are split up to invade five landing points along the coast of northern France, each with its own code name. The U.S. Army is assigned to Utah and Omaha beaches, the British are tasked with taking Gold and Sword beaches and the Canadians draw Juno Beach.

That night, Eisenhower pens a morbid note announcing the invasion is a failure, just in case he needs it.

“If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone,” he writes, underlining the last two words. He mistakenly dates the note “July 5” and tucks it away in a drawer, hoping never to use it.

June 6 — 12 a.m.

Allied aircraft arrive in Normandy. Bombers start bombarding the coastline while personnel carriers fly inland to drop off squads of paratroopers. The paratroopers attack bridges and seize several key points to cut off the Nazi supply lines.

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Several paratrooper groups land on the beaches and begin chipping away at the heavily fortified coastal defences. Many others are scattered across the countryside, making them slow to get into position.

1 a.m.

The German navy detects Allied ships off Pas-de-Calais. The ships are part of the feint to distract from the Allies’ true target in Normandy.

Allied warships drop anchor off the coast of Normandy to wait for dawn and provide cover for the landing ships.

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2 a.m.-4 a.m.

The Allies continue to drop paratroopers into France, with more than 13,000 deployed by morning. An additional 4,000 troops fly in on gliders. Approximately 450 members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion are among the paratrooper force.

Some of the paratroopers die in crash-landings or drown in flooded fields.

The Germans notice the paratrooper invasion and begin to scramble a response, although they don’t yet fully grasp the scope of the invasion.

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5 a.m.

Allied battleships start firing on the Nazi defences while the first landing ships head ashore.

German and Allied ships clash in the first skirmishes at sea.

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The sun rises, and the landing operation is fully underway. The Allied battleships stop firing as their landing boats approach the shore at 6:30 a.m., dubbed “H-Hour” for the designated moment of the invasion.

German forces pepper the landing boats with gunfire, killing scores of Allied troops before they can reach the beach.

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The landing ships are tightly packed together, and they suffer heavy casualties under the German assault. Nevertheless, the Allies manage to land their troops, and the fight for the beaches begins.

The Allies deploy amphibious tanks on the beaches of Normandy to support the ground troops and sweep for defensive mines.

American troops face heavy machine-gun fire on Omaha Beach, the most heavily fortified landing point of the invasion. Approximately 2,500 U.S. soldiers are killed on the beach in the bloodiest fight of the day.

Eisenhower announces the invasion has begun in a communique to soldiers.

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months,” Eisenhower writes. “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”

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The Allied forces send a separate communique announcing the invasion to the media.

“Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces, supported by strong air forces, began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France,” the brief communique says.

11 a.m.

American troops turn the tide of battle at the Omaha landing point, with warships backing them up at sea.

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12 p.m.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill informs U.K. Parliament that the invasion is underway and it’s going well.

“So far, the commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan!” Churchill says. “This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place.”

After sleeping through the morning, Adolf Hitler wakes up and learns of the attack. He remains convinced the landings are a decoy and that the real invasion will come at Calais. He refuses to reassign his army to defend Normandy.

2 p.m.-6 p.m.

Canada’s force of 14,000 troops takes Juno Beach and presses inland. British and American forces, including those at Omaha, take control of their beaches as well.

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The Allies bring in tanks, tend to the wounded and clear away mines on the beaches. They also start pressuring German forces at Caen, a key city in the area.

Hitler finally agrees to send reinforcements to Normandy rather than waiting for an assault at Calais.

Allied reinforcements from Britain arrive in Normandy. Ground troops link up with the paratroopers further inland and press on toward Caen. However, the city does not fall until July 10.

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12 a.m.

At least 4,000 Allied soldiers are killed in the initial attack, including 359 Canadians. However, the invasion ultimately prevails, and the German forces are either killed, captured or forced to withdraw to Caen.

The Allies have won the day and taken their first step toward liberating Europe. They continue to ferry troops and equipment across the Channel, and by the end of June, the Allies have more than 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles and 570,000 tonnes of supplies in France. These forces allow them to march across western Europe, freeing Allied nations and driving the Germans back to Berlin, while the Soviets do the same from the east.

Hitler dies by suicide during the siege of Berlin on April 30, 1945. The Germans surrender a week later on May 8.

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