TORONTO, May 9, 2019 /CNW/ - June 6th, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day when 14,000 Canadian soldiers stormed Juno Beach on France's northern coast. Part of the largest seaborne invasion in history that included 142,000 British and American allies, D-Day marked the beginning of Europe's liberation from Nazi Germany and the end of the Second World War.
Tragically, more than 900 Canadians from communities across Canada died during the first five days of the Battle of Normandy -- between June 6 and June 10, 1944.
To mark this important milestone in Canadian history and honour the fallen, the Juno Beach Centre, Canada's only Second World War museum located on Juno Beach itself, is sending personalized postcards to the current residents of hundreds of homes across Canada linked to the soldiers who died. The postcards include the name, rank, and age of the soldier linked to each address.
"Letting someone know that a Canadian war hero left their house 75 years ago is a very special way of preserving the stories of these soldiers," says Mike Bechthold, Executive Director of the Juno Beach Centre Association. "It's also a unique way to bridge the years and connect generations so young people today can get a glimpse into the lives of the young soldiers who once lived in their very homes – all of them volunteers."
Recipients of "Postcards from Juno" are encouraged to share their home's special history and their personal reflections on receiving the card, through social media (@JunoBeachCentre, #JunoPostcards).
D-DAY FAST FACTS
The beaches: On June 6, 1944, the Allied assault force landed on a 75 km stretch of heavily-defended beach on the northern coast of France, in the Normandy region. From west to east, the beaches were codenamed Utah (American), Omaha (American), Gold (British), Juno (Canadian), and Sword (British).
D-Day participants by nationality: The Allies landed 156,000 troops on D-Day. By sea, the Americans landed 23,250 at Utah and 34,250 at Omaha, the British landed 24,970 at Gold and 28,845 at Sword, and the Canadians and British landed 14,000 and 7,000 respectively at Juno Beach. Approximately 23,400 paratroopers landed by air on the extreme west and eastern flanks of the assault area.
Canadian objectives on D-Day: The Canadian objective on June 6th was to storm Juno Beach and reach a railway line linking Caen in the east to Bayeux in the west. They would dig in here, link with British troops on their left and right, and create a fortress defence against expected German counter-attacks.
What the Canadians accomplished: While the Canadians did not capture all their objectives on D-Day, they did advance the furthest. Over the following three days, the Canadians fought a series of bloody battles holding off repeated German counter-attacks that threatened the entire Allied front line in France.
What happened next: After 76 days of intense combat in Normandy, the remnants of two defeated German armies retreated across France. The Canadian Army joined in the pursuit and fought through Belgium and the Netherlands before striking into Germany, which surrendered on May 8, 1945.
- Only known video of Canadian soldiers approaching Juno Beach by landing craft on D-Day (4:00)
- Jim Parks, D-Day veteran, describes landing on Juno Beach (0:13). Private Jim Parks served with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and was 19 years old on D-Day. He was born in Winnipeg but now lives in Mount Albert, Ontario (north of Toronto).
- Robert Spencer, D-Day veteran, describes the secrecy surrounding D-Day (0:16). Lieutenant Robert Spencer enlisted with the Victoria Rifles but served overseas with the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, 4th Canadian Armoured Division. Robert was 23 on D-Day and lives in Ottawa. He was enrolled at McGill University in Montreal when he volunteered for the Army.
About the Juno Beach Centre
The Juno Beach Centre is Canada's Second World War museum and cultural centre located on Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. Founded by veterans and volunteers in 2003, the Centre's mandate is to preserve the legacy of all Canadians who served during the Second World War. Fifteen years and one million visitors later, the Juno Beach Centre has been designated a site of national historic significance to Canada. The Juno Beach Centre Association is a Canadian charitable organization which owns and operates the Juno Beach Centre.
For more information, please visit www.junobeach.org.
SOURCE Juno Beach Centre Association
For further information: Media Contact: Lisa Murray, 416-565-2954, email@example.com