The D-Day story
The Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 were undoubtedly the most complex military operation ever orchestrated.
On 6 June 1944, also known as D-Day, the Allied forces launched Operation Overlord, the code name for the Battle of Normandy.
More than 6 000 warships, transport vessels and landing craft carried the liberating land forces across the Channel, while thousands of aircraft supported this armada.
On June 6, 1944, 14000 of the 135000 Allies who landed or parachuted into Normandy were Canadians.
After the United States and Great Britain, Canada contributed the largest number of troops to the D-Day assault.
The beach sector codenamed Juno was stormed by the 3rd Infantry Division and the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade,
These divisions contributed to the liberation of the coastal villages of Graye-sur-Mer, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer and Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer.
The Canadian soldiers’ mission was to destroy the German coastal defenses, then advance inland towards Carpiquet airport.
They also had to link up with troops landing in the British Gold and Sword sectors.
Courseulles was liberated by the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, consisting of the Regina Rifles, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, and the Canadian Scottish regiments, supported by the First Hussars Tanks, the 12th and 13th Field Regiments and the Royal Canadian Engineers.
By the evening of D-Day, the Canadians were firmly established some 12 kilometres inland.
The 10-week campaign in Normandy resulted in over 18000 Canadian casualties; of these, approximately 5500 were killed.
Most are buried in the two Canadian cemeteries at Bény-sur-Mer-Reviers and Cintheaux-Bretteville-sur-Laize.
Things to see in the Canadian Juno Sector
The Juno Beach Centre
Discover Canada’s only museum of the D-Day landing beaches.
The Juno Beach Centre is not just the only Canadian Second World War museum in Europe but it is also a place for education that has been left as a legacy by the veterans who participated in its creation.
The Ministry of Canadian Heritage has designated this site to be of national historic significance to Canada.
It is also a place where many Canadians pay tribute and reflect on their own history.
Juno Park, which surrounds the museum, contains remnants of the defensive stronghold built during the German occupation, known as the Atlantic Wall.
Canadian guides from the Juno Beach Centre give 45-minute guided tours of this historic site from July to October.
This area is dedicated to the conservation of the natural environment and resources with an entertaining tour dealing with tree major themes: the D-Day landing on Juno Beach, the seaside resort and the plants and wildlife.
It is an exceptional site due to its location, the wealth of natural resources and its historic character,
It was the first house to be liberated by the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944.
The Queen’s own rifles of Canada – The first house in France to be liberated on 6th June 1944 during the Normandy Landings, this early 20th century Anglo-Norman house was taken over by the army regiment
The Queen’s Own Riffles of Canada early in the morning.
It stands facing Juno beach and can be seen on numerous photos taken on D-Day and in many commemorative films.
Canadian War Cemetery in Bény-sur-mer/ Reviers
It is in this Bény-sur-Mer Reviers Canadian War Cemetery that the 335 soldiers of the 3rd Canadian Division
These are the soldiers who on 6 June 1944 in the Juno Beach area and were engaged in the fighting are buried.
Most of these buried soldiers were killed in June and early July 1944 during the Battle of Caen and on D-Day in the terrible fighting on the beach.
The Canadian prisoners of war executed by the SS-Panzer Hitlerjugend at the Abbey of Ardenne are also buried in this cemetery.
Also buried in the 2,049 graves are 1,694 Canadian soldiers and 15 airmen who fell in the fighting on the advance into the interior, as well as one airman, three British soldiers and one French soldier.
This Canadian landing site still has many visible traces of the past.
A tourist map has been published which features all of these historic vestiges and memorial sites in Cœur de Nacre :
More information about the D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
Sword Beach, British sector:
Radar 44 Museum, Douvres-la-Délivrande
Housed in the former German detection station, the museum presents the history of the site, the use of radar technology by the Germans and the life of the soldiers on site.
Radar Station 44 consists of 9 underground chambers and a 3.5-hectare outdoor course.
Several options are available on site: self-guided, audioguided or guided tours.
The Bunker Atlantic Wall Museum, Ouistreham :
Over 5 levels, you’ll explore the interior rooms, which have been recreated down to the finest detail: engine rooms, mess rooms, infirmary, armory, ammunition depot, radio transmission room, switchboard, observation post…
One of the rooms is dedicated to the construction of the Atlantic Wall, the largest building site of the 20th century, which mobilized more than 2 million workers over 3 years.
Pegasus Memorial Museum, Ranville: this museum traces the arrival of the 1st liberators of the British 6th Airborne Division on Normandy soil on the night of June 5-6, 1944.
In the park, you’ll find the famous Pegasus Bridge and a life-size replica of a Horsa glider.
This bridge, made famous by D. ZANUCK’s 1961 film The Longest Day, has now been faithfully reproduced.
On the other side of the bridge, stop off at Café Gondrée, the first house in France to be liberated in the last hour of June 5, 1944, by the British 6th Airborne Division.
Built in 1865, it’s a must-see café-museum, where the multitude of souvenir photos and soldiers’ helmets bear witness to the passage of many a veteran.
Gold Beach, British sector, Omaha Beach, American sector:
- Arromanches and its artificial harbour, but also 360° cinema: projected onto 9 screens, never-before-seen archive images from Canada, the USA, Great Britain and France retrace the 100 days of this terrible battle.
- The Longues-sur-Mer battery: a major construction of the Atlantic Wall, atop a cliff overlooking the English Channel, this coastal defense battery includes a fire command post and four casemates, each housing a 150mm artillery piece.
- Omaha Beach and American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer: this 70-hectare site overlooks Omaha Beach. It contains the graves of 9,387 fallen soldiers. The chapel, memorial and garden of the fallen complete the site.
- La Pointe du Hoc, Cricqueville-en-Bessin: stormed on the morning of June 6 by Colonel Rudder’s Rangers, this was one of the strong points of the German fortifications on the coast. Today, the site is a reminder of what an artillery battery was like, with its fire direction post, casemates and shelters…
- The German cemetery, La Cambe: the cemetery contains the graves of over 21,200 German soldiers. 1220 maple trees have been planted as living symbols of peace and reconciliation between nations.
To be seen in the section :
- 3 apps to discover D-DAYThrough 3 free web applications and dozens of audio testimonies, archive images and videos, dive into the heart of this… Read more: 3 apps to discover D-DAY
- 5 good reasons to visit the Juno Beach Centre with your familyHave you decided to take the children to visit the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy? You’re right! It is by… Read more: 5 good reasons to visit the Juno Beach Centre with your family
- Our main D-DAY sitesWith over 200 remains and museums from the Second World War in Normandy, it’s not easy to know where to start. The Juno Sector might… Read more: Our main D-DAY sites