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Operation Overlord: The Briefing Room
Transcript of Operation Overlord: The Briefing Room
The Briefing Room
Of the 6,086 men who made it ashore, 3,623 were wounded, killed or captured
August 10-24, 1943
William Lyon Mackenzie King
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
May 26, 1944
Canadian, British and American forces are mobilized to the south coast of England. American General Eisenhower has selected June 5 as the date of the cross-Channel invasion. In the event of bad weather, the invasion will take place June 6 or 7.
September 10, 1939
Seven days after Great Britain declares war on Germany, Canada follows suit, for the first time as an independent nation.
This massive invasion force has crossed the English Channel to the coast of Normandy. 14,500 Canadians wait for morning light to land on the beach sector code-named Juno. But the first to land there will be a force of Allied paratroopers, under cover of darkness.
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
will be the first Canadian unit on the ground in France. Orders are as follows:
: Cover and protect the UK 9th Parachute Battalion's assault on the Merville Gun Battery
: Destroy the bridge over the river Dives and hold the area
: Secure the Drop Zone, destroy enemy HQ and blow the bridge over the Divette stream
June 6, 1944
a toggle rope
escape kit with French currency
2 24-hour ration packs
standard equipment, the total weighing over 70 lbs
Each paratrooper carries:
Marshal von Rundstedt transmits to the 7th German Army that he does not believe there will be a large scale landing. However by o300 hours, Allied air forces are bombarding key targets up and down the coast.
Among them is the
RCAF Bomber Group 6
. Their mission is to attack the German shore artillery ahead of the morning's beach landings. Another objective is the destruction of railways, bridges and fuel depots to prevent the Germans from rallying in defense.
The RCAF fighter pilots of
No. 438 Squadron
, meanwhile, must dive bomb two concrete block houses overlooking one of the landing beaches, just as the landing craft are to lower their ramps into the water.
Royal Canadian Navy ships drop anchor off the coast of Juno sector. The RCN contributes 110 vessels and 10,000 sailors, including:
Minesweeper vessels like the HMCS Caraquet, which must work through the night to clear the approach to all five Allied landing areas.
The 31st Canadian Minesweeper Flotilla helps to clear ten lanes, marked with lighted buoys.
Landing craft to transport troops and vehicles - the RCN and RN must land 176,000 troops and their equipment on the coast of Normandy during the first day of operations.
Destroyers like the HMCS Sioux, which pound the coastal defense positions with artillery
The four field artillery regiments of the
3rd Canadian Infantry
division embark simultaneously on their landing craft towards the beach sector code-named
. Objectives are to:
Break through German coastal defenses and establish a bridgehead
Create contact with the two British forces flanking either side
Move 18 km inland to the Carpiquet airfield
The first assault troops of the
7th Infantry Brigade
, including these men of the
Royal Winnipeg Rifles
, land near Courseulles-sur-mer. Bad weather hinders the operation; tanks are unable to land and landing craft are forced to move in closer to the beach, at heavy risk of hitting a submerged mine.
To the East, the
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
land and lead an assault on Bernieres-sur-mer. Both assault companies of the regiment are each commanded by one of the Dalton brothers: Major Hume Elliot Dalton and Major Charles Osborne Dalton. Before parting ways, Charles says simply to his brother, "See you on the beach!"
The 3rd division begins deploying its reserves as fighting moves further inland. The number of troops and vehicles on the beach is making circulation increasingly difficult.
Meeting point for troops is near Beny.
Fighting on the beach is over by noon, and as the day comes to a close Canadians succeed in advancing towards
Cruelly, Colomby-sur-Thaon and Anisy
. German prisoners of war are led off at Juno.
Over the course of the day,
574 men of the 3rd Canadian division were wounded, and 340 killed.
The Canadians' actions on Juno Beach were considered a major success. Allied forces had successfully broken through the Atlantic wall, thus beginning the Invasion of Normandy.
"You can never go to bed at night before thinking of the guys who died. They’re the ones that saved my life. They’re the ones that won the war. Not me, it’s them. They lived their life for their country, as simple as that."
- Leo Dionne, D-Day veteran
On the run-in Doug Reed and I were standing up eagerly, watching for shore. We began singing “The Bells Are Ringing for Me and My Gal” and continued until we saw the steeple of the church at our landing site. I said, “Doug, there’s the church, I thought it wasn’t supposed to be there.”
It suffered one shell hole in the steeple. We soon saw the big hotel that is a famous painting now.
Then we saw the five pillboxes mounted on top of the sea-wall. These were our first objective. About five hundred yards out, they had us in the sights of their small arms and began shooting. We had never been under real fire and realized it when bullets were hitting our assault craft. I said to Doug, as if we should be surprised, “they’re shooting at us” and we ducked down below the armour.
- Doug Hester, Queen’s Own Rifles, from Canadians, A Battalion at War, p. 3
of the Queen's Own Rifles must run 200 m against a German defensive position without much covering fire. Fighting on the beach lasts several hours.