Thursday, May 28, 2009
Canadian assault troops head to Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944
Queen Elizabeth is said to be "fuming" that she was not invited to join Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to mark the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6th. It's hard to blame her, since it appears that Sarkozy was hoping to pull off a "Franco-American" affair that would put him in the spotlight with Obama, despite the nettlesome fact that only a handful of Free French troops under British command participated in the Normandy landings.
But there is a more glaring omission: no role for the Canadians!
The D-Day assault force included about 14,000 Canadian troops -- the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, the 2nd Canadian Armored Brigade and a battalion of Canadian airborne soldiers. The Canadians had responsibility for the landing on Juno Beach at the center of the British Second Army's zone. Fighting at Juno Beach was second in ferocity and blood only to that faced by the Americans at Omaha Beach. Casualties among the initial Canadian assault troops were 50% in the first hour of combat. In one sector where troops in the first wave had to cross 200 yards under German fire to reach the defilade of a seawall, only handful of men from an entire Canadian company survived.
After D-Day, many more Canadian troops poured into Normandy, fighting step by step with the Americans and Brits. More than 5,000 Canadians died in the Battle of Normandy.
If I were a Canadian, I'd be a lot more miffed than the Queen, particularly at the French, who played, at best, a bit part in their own liberation.
Thoughts about this? Post a comment.
Posted by J. E. Burke at 1:51 AM