Royal Canadian Artillery
Before the infantry landed on the beach, all artillery launched a saturation barrage against the enemy defences. Destroyers pounded the beaches, large landing crafts fired their 4.7-inch guns and Landing Craft Tanks fired rocket rounds. Four field artillery regiments of the Royal Canadian Artillery, in all 96 guns of 105-mm, embarked on 24 LCTs, moved toward the beaches simultaneously. From its craft the 12th Field Regiment opened fire against a fortified position in Courseulles. At 0655, the 13th Field Regiment attacked another position west of the cliff. At 0744, the 14th Regiment fired on a fortified position at Bernières and at 0739, the 19th Regiment attacked a similar post in Saint-Aubin. For 30 minutes they fired a steady barrage onto the beaches above the heads of the infantry approaching the shore in their LCAs.
The Royal Canadian Artillery field regiments landed on the 7th Brigade front at about 9:00 a.m. Delays in opening exits from the beaches prevented the field artillery from moving inland as soon as had been planned. Lt.-Col. Webb brought the guns of the 12th Field Regiment ashore and put them into action on the beach. The artillery was deployed side by side amid the confusion of men and vehicles, and then opened fire in support of the advancing infantry. In the late afternoon the regiment moved to its planned gun area between Ste. Croix and Banville. The 13th Field Regiment landed later and the first battery to land established itself south of Courseulles. By evening the whole unit was in its designated position adjacent to the 12th Field Regiment's.
the 8th Brigade front, the self-propelled artillery of the 14th Field
Regiment and the 19th Army Field Regiment, R.C.A., began to land at 9:25
and 9:10 a.m. respectively. They moved off the beach and the 14th had
18 guns in action near Bernières by 11:30 while the 19th had its
first gun in action at 9:20. Both regiments had casualties in men and
guns from enemy artillery fire. The regiments spent most of the day in
action in improvised gun areas close to Bernières. In the evening
the 14th moved forward to a planned area a mile north of Beny.
On the 3rd Division front, the Royal Engineer's objective was to clear four landing zones. The Royal Canadian Engineer units consisted of the 5th Field Company of 1st Army Troops, the 6th, 16th and 18th Field Companies and the 3rd Field Park Company. The 5th Field Company and one section of the 18th had the vital role of clearing underwater and other landing obstacles while the other units were to help the Division get ahead once it landed. The Royal Navy cleared obstacles in more than three feet of water while the Royal Engineers gathered or destroyed obstacles in shallow water.
Due to the late landings and a higher than expected tide, clearing the beach obstacles was badly disrupted and was mostly delayed until the receding tide uncovered the obstacles. The 5th and 18th landed with armoured bulldozers at 0745 hours on Mike Red and at 0815 hours on Mike Green sectors. Working in over four feet of water, they managed to clear a 50 foot gap in the obstacles in 30 minutes. The 5th Field Company landed later at Nan Red and Nan White beaches. They suffered heavy casualties as they laboured to remove charges from the beach obstacles while under fire from 50mm anti-tank guns in the Bernières strongpoint.
Parties of the 6th and 16th Field Company landed between H+5 and H+90 depending on their assignment. The fire from machine-guns and mortars continued to vary in intensity from place to place but it was reduced as the infantry overran the positions. The 6th Field Company R.C.E who landed with the Winnipeg Rifles had 26 casualties during the day. As the tide turned the receding water revealed a dense pattern of steel shapes with mines attached ranging from Teller-mines to 75mm shells with igniters. Organized clearance of beach obstacles between the high and low water marks continued throughout the day as the tide turned. By evening the engineers had cleared a 40-yard gap on Mike sector and a 1600-yard gap on Nan sector.
The AVREs and bulldozers of the assault engineers (the 5th Assault Regiment Royal Engineers) and "Crab" flail tanks of the 22nd Dragoons had the responsibility of clearing the beach exits. There was difficulty in opening exits on the 7th Brigade front due to low sand-dunes and flooded areas. On "Mike Red" beach, one exit was opened across the dunes just west of Courseulles. A bridge was laid and a rough causeway built across the flooded area behind. Some tanks got across about 9:15, then the causeway failed and traffic had to be stopped. The exit was not working until noon or later. A second exit on "Mike Green" beach gave less trouble and was working fairly well by about 9:30. The assault infantry had made good progress inland, but very few tanks or other vehicles were available to get through and support them.
There was less difficulty on "Nan Green" Beach. The Crabs dealt with the mines, an anti-tank ditch was filled with fascines dropped by the AVRE's, and armoured bulldozers improved the lanes. Two exits leading into the East Courseulles strongpoint were working by about 9:00 a.m. The Centaurs of the Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment had little to do on the 7th Brigade's beaches. Some of the Centaurs were lost at sea, and others landed late. They received few calls for fire although one troop, answered a request received from the 13th Field Regiment observation party, and silenced a beach position which was harassing the Reginas.
On the 8th Brigade front at Bernières tides caused most of the
engineers craft to land east of their planned positions. The high sea-wall
combined with enemy fire caused trouble but the 5th Assault Regiment Royal
Engineers eventually cleared four exits by either breaking down the wall,
clearing obstructed ramps or by laying assault bridges over the wall.
On the beach east of Bernières the Crabs flailed paths through
mine fields in the sand dunes and two exits were opened. One troop of
Centaurs from the Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment engaged against
targets in St. Aubin and then gave assistance to No. 48 Commando in clearing
British Royal Marine Commandos
The No. 48 (Royal Marine) Commando was given the task of securing the
left flank of the Canadian assault. They were to land in the "Nan"
sector behind the 8th Brigade and capture Langrune-sur-Mer and as far
east as the divisional boundary. The No. 48 Commando landed at 8:43 am,
opposite and immediately east of the St. Aubin strongpoint. They suffered
heavily from the strong-point's fire and then met stiff opposition in
Langrune-sur-Mer. The No. 41 Commando which landed at Lion-sur-Mer on
the 3rd British Infantry Division front, also met difficult enemy resistance.
No. 41 Commando was unable to immediately capture Lion-sur-Mer nor capture
Petit Enfer to the west. This prevented the units from joining the divisional
fronts. It wasn't until June 8th that these towns were captured.
Canadian Field Ambulance Units & British Medical Units
Three Canadian Field Ambulance Units - Nos. 14, 22 and 23 had been attached
respectively to the 7th, 8th and 9th Infantry Brigades for the initial
landings. As the assault battalions pushed inland, the ambulance units
followed along behind, gathering the wounded and evacuating them to dressing
stations established behind the advancing lines. By 1100 hours, No. 14
Canadian Field Ambulance established a dressing station at Banville-sur-Mer
while No. 22 established a matching facility at Beny-sur-Mer shortly after
1800 hours. Closer to the beach, the medical units of No. 102 British
Beach Sub-Area were responsible for administering and maintaining Juno
Beach. They landed two field dressing stations, two field surgical units,
one field transfusion unit, one surgical team, a field sanitation detachment,
Pioneer Company stretcher-bearers, and a casualty evacuation unit. The
British medical units set up two advanced surgical centres at Bernières-sur-Mer
and at Graye-sur-Mer and were operational by 1100 hours.