nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Juno beach, 70 years later

with 2 comments


On June 6, 1944, seventy years ago, my Dad was one of the men who landed on the beaches of Normandy.

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Dad was a member of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment of the Third Canadian Division, Company ‘D’.  He entered active service in 1940 and joined the New Brunswick Regiment in 1943.

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Will R. Bird wrote a comprehensive history of the North Shore Regiment (Brunswick Press, 1963).  In the book is a photo taken in February of 1945.  My Dad believed the soldier in the foreground was him.  The soldier certainly has my father’s stance, but the shovel on his back was what convinced my Dad.  Most of the shovels issued had a ‘T’-shaped handle.  My Dad’s shovel had an unusual triangular handle, like the one in the photo.  Dad certainly considered the shovel his friend since digging trenches was their main protection under fire.

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Canadian troops in 1945

Canadian troops in 1945 (photo from Will R. Bird, North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, 1963, page 322)

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I have never been to France.  But with Street View, in Google Earth, I can see the place where Dad came ashore.  Will R. Bird’s book, North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, includes a copy of an aerial map showing the beach where the North Shore Regiment landed – the NAN 7 Beach at St-Aubin-sur-Mer in northern France.  ‘D’ Company landed on the part of the beach indicated by the arrow to the left.

~

aerial map showing the beach where the North Shore Regiment landed on June 6, 1944 (Will R. Bird, South Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, 1963)

aerial map showing the beach where the North Shore Regiment landed on June 6, 1944 (Will R. Bird, South Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, 1963, page 316)

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The Google map shows the same area in July, 2013 …

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beach at St-Aubin-Sur-Mer

aerial view of beach at St-Aubin-Sur-Mer (map from Google Earth)

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A view looking out to sea …

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looking out to sea (image from Street View)

looking out to sea (image from Street View)

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And a sign commemorating the landing of the Canadian troops …

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sign showing Juno beach

view of the sign at NAN 7 Beach (image from Street View)

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We know the casualties of the Normandy invasion were staggering.  In the first hour after the landing, the Canadians suffered casualties of over 50%.  When the war was over, my Dad was one of only nine ‘D’ Company men who had landed at D-Day and made it through to the liberation of Holland.

~

Canadian troops landing at NAN Beach

Canadian troops landing at NAN Beach (photo from Wikipedia, public domain)

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 6, 2014 at 7:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. It’s important to understand our ancestors within the context of world history. Your dad was lucky – the casualties of war seem so random – it must have been hard for him to cope with the loss of so many fellow soldiers in his company. It was thoughtful of him to share some of his memories with you…

    Like

    Barbara Rodgers

    June 8, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    • Hi. He didn’t say much. When I think that my Dad’s life was 84 years long, almost 5 of those years were spent as soldier during the war. 5 years is a long time. Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      June 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm


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