|John Wayne in the 1962 film The Longest Day|
|Screenshot of the Normandy landing from Saving Private Ryan.|
Canada was heavily involved in the fighting during both WWI and WWII. As a nation and military force, Canada does not hold the same level of prestige as Britain, the United States, France, Germany, etc. In both cases, it is because the Canadian efforts have been seen as joint efforts with others. In WWI, Canada was a dominion of the British Empire, and did not even hold sufficient right to declare war on its own: once Britain was in, Canada was in, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. As for WWII, although Canada had attained enough international clout to issue its own declaration of war and handle its own international affairs, it was still popularly conceived as "British".
Lance-Bombardier Walter Cooper, 14th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (R.C.A.), aboard a Landing Ship Tank counting out 105mm. shells which will be fired on D-Day. Southampton, England, 4 June 1944. (Photograph by Lieut. Frank L. Dubervill)
What this means is that like the other Commonwealth nations (ex. Australia and New Zealand), Canadians have taken particular responsibility in remembering their own achievements from WWI and WWII. For Canadians, then, we then sought out instances where our soldiers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to create something significant not just to our own history, but to the wars' progression overall. In WWI, that lot fell to Vimy Ridge (April 9-12, 2917); and in WWII, although the credit could be more diversely distributed, most of the emphasis has fallen upon Juno Beach.
Infantrymen of The Highland Light Infantry of Canada aboard LCI(L) 306 of the 2nd Canadian (262nd RN) Flotilla en route to France on D-Day, 6 June 1944. (Photograph by Lieut. Gilbert Alexander Milne)
Now, I'm not a military historian. I can't tell you the hows of Canada's victory at Juno Beach, or why the Canadians were the first to achieve success. There are plenty of books, websites, etc. addressing that issue, I reckon. All I want to do is give the Canadian troops that took part in D-Day their proper recognition. Hollywood might give us the American story, but D-Day was a joint effort - without each force involved doing its part, the offensive as a whole may not have succeeded.
And I think, for Canada, seventy years later, that's what matters most.
Three "D-Day originals" of the Regina Rifle Regiment who landed in France on 6 June 1944. Ghent, Belgium, 8 November 1944. (Photograph by Lieut. Donald I. Grant)
|Private C.L. Jewell of The North Nova Scotia Highlanders, who wears a "D-Day" beard, Normandy, France, 22 June 1944. (Photograph by Lieut. Ken Bell)|
Rifleman R.A. Marshall, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, pointing out a hole in his helmet made by a German sniper's bullet on D-Day. Bretteville-Orgueilleuse, France, 20 June 1944. (Photograph by Lieut. Frank L. Dubervill)
Screenshot from The Longest Day (c) 20th Century Fox
Screenshot from Saving Private Ryan (c) Amblin Entertainment
Map of Normandy Beaches (c) HMSO (Her Majesty's Stationary Office) and the National Archives (UK)
All photos of Canadian forces in 1944 (c) Library and Archives Canada