On the Beach
The Normandy Landing on D-Day did not go completely as planned.
Consider the worst traffic jam you have ever been in, then add in the organized confusion of a military attack using artillery, tanks, bulldozers and mechanized infantry with trucks and jeeps all attempting to move in the same direction! Now add an opposing military force determined to prevent the movement of people or vehicles. That was the chaos on the Normandy beaches during the D-Day landings between 8:00 am and nightfall of 6 June 1944.
The traffic jam on Juno Beach was so severe that the second wave of Canadians was held up for several hours before they could advance. After getting beyond sunken landing craft and tanks, the beach was covered with troops, vehicles, equipment, tanks and even bicycles, all attempting to move through exits too small for mass movement.
The Canadian Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, supported by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, had the direct responsibility to land on Juno Beach and take the towns of Courseulles, St. Aubin and Bernieres. After landing on the beaches, strewn with dead soldiers, disabled tanks, several trucks and artillery pieces destroyed by enemy guns, the Canadians fought their way into the sand dunes, stormed gun emplacements and slowly established positions.
All through the day of bitter fighting, the 7th and 8th Brigades, made up of the Canadian Scottish, Winnipeg and Regina Rifles, North Shore Regiment, the Queen’s Own Rifles and le Regiment de la Chaudiere, supported by the Sherman tanks of the 1st Hussars and the Fort Garry Horse, eventually won a beach head.
The traffic jam on Juno beach however, was so severe that the Canadian 9th (reserve) Brigade, made up of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, the Highland Light Infantry and the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, was held up for several hours before it could advance. After getting beyond sunken landing craft and tanks, the beach was covered with troops, vehicles, equipment, tanks and even bicycles, all attempting to move through exits too small for mass movement.
Fortunately, the 9th Brigade was able to land in support of the first Canadian wave without strong enemy opposition, a tribute to the Allied Air Support which had by this time, destroyed most of the German gun emplacements.
Not withstanding the confusion, in approximately twenty four hours the Canadian 3rd Division had landed 14,500 soldiers and a vast array of military equipment on the beaches of Normandy. During the vicious fighting that took place, the Canadians lost 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 captured.
By nightfall of the 6 June, all three Brigades of the Division had advanced farther than any other allied troops. Operation Overlord, the name given to the invasion of Normandy on D Day, had been a success.