Le Régiment de la Chaudière
Le Régiment de la Chaudière was a French Canadian regiment from the province of Quebec. Their task on D-Day was to pass through the Queen's Own Rifles (QOR) and head south until they ran into the Germans. They landed near Bernières at 8:30. Coming in on the rising tide, many of the landing craft struck concealed mines. 'A' Company had four of its five LCA's damaged. The occupants had no option but to throw off their equipment and swim to shore. The Chaudière's reorganized behind the beach wall while the QOR cleared the remaining German resistance in Bernières. They then moved to their assembly area in the wooded area on the south edge of Bernières . Along the way they were greeted by the locals who were surprised and delighted to learn they spoke French.
By 10:30 the Chaudière's formed up with 'A' squadron of the Fort Garry tanks and 'Priests' (self-propelled artillery) of the 14th Field Regiment. They moved out towards Beny-sur-Mer and encountered significant resistance. The Chauds were prevented from passing through the QOR by the accurate fire from 88mm guns located south of Bernières. The first three self-propelled guns had pulled off the road and were preparing an artillery position when the hidden 88mm guns fired on them destroying all three in less than a minute. When the Chaudière's tried to move forward they came under machine gun crossfire. The guns were difficult to locate in the long grass and reconnaissance parties were sent out to locate the positions. Fire support from another location was directed on the presumed gun locations. Under the covering fire of the machine guns of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa the infantry moved up the road and infiltrated the German positions.
The Chauds regimental history: "'A' Company, commanded by Major Hugues Lapointe, was the first to attack. Despite the mined terrain our troops, supported by a squadron from the Fort Garry Horse and a machine gun platoon of the Cameron Highlanders, overcame the German position."
The Chauds regimental history: "A bit further, hidden in a hole, an 88 cannon was still firing on the village exit. Lieutenant W. Moisan attacked on his own initiative. As he advanced in front of his men, a bullet hit a smoke grenade he was carrying. The grenade's phosphorous caught fire. His battle dress started burning but Lieutenant Moisan continued the attack. The enemy was annihilated. Unfortunately, the phosphorous had burnt Lieutenant Moisan and he had to be evacuated. This act of heroism earned him the military cross."
'B' Company took the position known as the Beny-sur-Mer battery and Beny-sur-Mer itself was captured by 'C' Company by about mid-afternoon. Then the Chaudière's moved onto Basly and Colomby-sur-Thaon. 'D' Company, led by Major G.O. Taschereau, was the first to reach Basly, after the platoon of Lieutenant J.R. Grégiore had taken fourteen prisoners. On the right, 'B' Company led by Major J.F. L'Espérance, attacked six 105mm cannons and took fifty-four prisoners. The Bren carriers, led by Captain Michel Gauvin, reinforced by a platoon from 'C' Company reached La Mare. The carriers captured four vehicles and twenty prisoners, some of them German youth fourteen and fifteen-years-old who were manning the coastal and anti-aircraft guns.
The Chateau de Colomby-sur-Thaon had been converted into a small fortress surrounded by a system of trenches. A pocket of German resistance held the Chateau and controlled the Thaon Road. The Chauds attacked the fortress allowing the Bren carrier platoon to reach the bridge at Thaon. Thirty Germans were taken prisoner including a Colonel.
By 1600 hours all the companies had reached their objectives and were
consolidating. Le Régiment de la Chaudière's had completed
the first phase of the mission for which it had trained so long. This
first victory was the reward for days, nights, weeks and months of effort,
courage and sacrifice.