Normandy A Personal Journey
by David Cale ®
It was D-Day plus 65. .The day was gray and blustery and a cold wind, blew in from the sea, typical June weather for Normandy. As It was high tide, I did not have to walk a great distance to the water's edge, so I walked straight out from the beach until I was standing, gazing out to sea, knee deep in the cold English Channel waters.
I had traveled for five days North from Paris to Dunkerque and then exploring on my way down along the coast of France to Caen, and to the D-Day invasion beaches of Normandy. Driving north I crossed the river Orne at Pegasus bridge, which marks the Eastern edge of the D Day invasion. From there it was a short drive to the beaches. First Gold and Sword Beach, where British troops landed and then my objective Juno Beach where my countrymen, Canadians, came ashore.
On a day similar to this, June 6, 1944, D-day, this six kilometer stretch of beach from Courseulles to St-Aubin sur Mer was newly christened -in blood- Juno Beach. It was here that Canadians of Toronto's Queen's Own Rifles, Regina Rifles, and Royal Winnipeg Rifles and others jumped into heavy surf and struggled ashore into the teeth of strong German resistance. Many of the German bunkers had not been destroyed by the preliminary bombardment, and until they were "silenced", these inflicted heavy losses.
Many of the Canadian Amphibious Tanks went straight to the bottom in the heavy seas, as they were not equipped to handle the heavy seas.
At the end of the day "The German dead were littered over the dunes, by their gun positions", a Canadian journalist reported. "By them, lay Canadians in bloodstained battledress, in the sand and in the grass, on the wire and by the concrete forts. ..They had lived a few minutes of the victory they had made. That was all." Three hundred and forty Canadians had given their lives. Another five hundred and seventy four had been wounded. This was just the beginning. In the days to come Canadians would see some of the bloodiest fighting of the invasion.