Every Royal Canadian Air Force squadron based in the United Kingdom was involved in supporting Operation Neptune / Overlord. The RCAF was involved for several months in bombing key enemy targets in the invasion area: roads, bridges, railways, airfields, and command and communications centres. Before H-Hour on D-Day, RCAF Lancasters of No. 6 Bomber Group dropped thousands of tons of bombs on German coastal defences.
There were many Canadian pilots in the RAF, but all RCAF fighter squadrons were assigned to 83 Group which worked closely with the Anglo-Canadian invasion forces. A day-fighter wing consisted of three squadrons of 18 aircraft, 39 officers and 743 other ranks. RCAF squadrons in 83 Group were assigned to the 126, 127, 143 and 144 Canadian fighter wings. The 143 wing flew the Typhoon IB fighter-bomber while the other three flew the Spitfire IXB. The Typhoons could carry two 500 lb or 1,000 lb bombs to provide direct support to the ground forces.
Canadian fighter pilots fought the Luftwaffe and helped achieve Allied air superiority over the bridgehead. Fighter squadrons escorted invading troops and attacked German ground positions. Later, as ground forces forged ahead, air superiority was easily maintained over an area that now reached some 100 km behind enemy lines. Allied ground forces could then move freely while German troops, whether they used roads or railways, or moved across fields could not do so without being targeted by RAF and RCAF fighters.
Canadian and British squadrons demonstrated the meaning of air superiority to the soldiers fighting through the Atlantic Wall. When more than a dozen Ju 88s tried to break through to bomb the beaches, pilots of 401 Ram Squadron destroyed six and forced the remainder to flee.
No. 438 Squadron was assigned the task of dive bombing two concrete block houses overlooking the beach on which the 50th British Division was to land tanks. This operation had to be performed just as the tanks landing craft lowered their ramps.
The first Allied planes to operate from French soil since 1940, RCAF squadrons No. 441, 442, and 443 continued to ravage enemy columns and support offensives throughout the Normandy campaign, helping to tilt the tactical balance in the Allies' favour.
A massive armada of 5,300 Allied vessels put to sea on D-Day. Canada's contribution to the Operation Neptune, the naval part of Overlord, was 109 ships and 10,000 men - 4 percent of the total naval strength. The navy transported the assault troops and then ensured the continued flow of more troops, ammunition, equipment and supplies.
Far in front of the armada were the minesweepers. There were sixteen Canadian minesweepers including the Canso, Caraquet, Thunder, Vegreville and Wasaga that performed the crucial task of clearing a safe route across the English Channel. The destroyers Algonquin and Sioux bombarded the enemy defences and provided fire support for the ground attacks.
The landing ships Prince Henry and Prince David carried fourteen assault landing craft to Juno Beach. Twenty-six landing craft infantry (LCI) transported second wave troops. Canadian motor torpedo boats patrolled the Seine estuary. Many other corvettes and frigates escorted landing craft and patrolled the convoy routes. RCN flotillas of landing craft transported infantry and tanks to shore and provided additional fire support for them.
Destroyers (V Class)
Tribal Class Destroyers
Motor Torpedo Boats
Landing Craft Infantry, Large