Juno Beach - The Canadian Landings On D-Day
Juno beach was five miles wide and stretched on either side of the small fishing port of Courseulles-sur-Mer, France. Two smaller villages, Bernières and St. Aubin, lay to the east of Courseulles. The coastline had been fortified by the occupying Germans and bristled with guns, concrete emplacements, pillboxes, fields of barbed wire and mines.
The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division reinforced by the 2nd Canadian Armoured
Brigade landed in two brigade groups:
Each Brigade group was comprised of 3 infantry battalions (regiments), and supported by an armoured regiment, 2 artillery field regiments, combat engineer companies and extra units such as Armoured Vehicles, Royal Engineers (AVRE's). The Fort Garry Horse tanks (10th Armoured Regiment) supported the 7th brigade landing on the left and the1st Hussars tanks (6th Armoured Regiment) supported the landing on the right.
The 9th Brigade consisting of the Highland Light Infantry, Stormont Dundas
and Glengarry Highlanders, and North Nova Scotia Highlanders regiments
landed later in the morning and advanced through the lead brigades. The
Sherbrooke Fusiliers tanks (27th Armoured Regiment) provided tank support.
The first wave of Canadian infantry was brought into shore by LCA's landing at 7:55. When the ramps lowered the troopsdisembarked and waded ashore. The soldiers hit the beaches and began the deadliest runof their lives. As they worked their way through the obstacles and minefields they came into the killing zones of the German gun positions. The assault troops raced across the beaches through the curtain of machine gun fire, rushed the pillboxes and eliminated the German strong-points with Sten-guns, small arms fire and grenades. The first wave took heavy casualties on the beaches. DD tanks arrived on the beaches and fired on the pillboxes, decimating the remaining strong-points. In bitter hand-to-hand fighting the Canadians cleared the enemy gun positions and fought their way into the towns.
All morning long the battle raged along the precious strip of coast. The Regina Rifles and Royal Winnipeg Rifles fought their way through Courseulles and Graye-sur-Mer. The North Shore Regiment captured St.Aubin while the Queen's Own Rifles took the town of Bernières. Tanks and infantry struck inland all that day and pressed on through villages, fields and groves of trees defended by determined Germans.
Facing formidable gun emplacements, machine gun nests and snipers, the brave Canadian soldiers did not hesitate in their advance. Determined officers led their well trained platoons to take out the enemy strongholds. Countless times the soldiers showed acts of valour by engaging the enemy in vicious close quarter fighting. Soldiers lost their close friends in the fighting and somehow found the courage to keep going. Through the terror of the battle the disciplined soldiers pushed on to overcome the enemy positions. The fierce battles were won by the bravery of the individual Canadian soldiers and the collective actions of their regimental units.