Like many countries around the world preparing to remember the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, we too remember.
On June 6, 1944, the Allied Invasion of Normandy was the largest seaborne invasion in history. An operation of the size of the this invasion doesn’t happen without pre-planning, and in this case, the planning started a year before in 1943.
It was so thoughtfully planned that postponement beyond 24 hours would mean they would have to put if off for two weeks in order to reach the perfect atmospheric conditions required.
With the combined forces of the allies working together, they managed to successfully land 24,000 US, British, and Canadian airborne troops just after midnight. While this didn’t all go the way it was intended, it led to what would go down in history as the day that brought the war to an end.
Of the 150,000 allied troops who landed or parachuted into the invasion area, 14,000 were Canadians. On D-Day, 1,074 Canadians were wounded and 359 killed. By the time the campaign was over, more than 18,700 Canadian soldiers were casualties and more than 5,000 soldiers died.
Here at home, news of the impending invasion was unknown because the whole thing had to be kept secret in order for the campaign to be successful.
In the June 22, 1944 edition of the Golden Star, there was an advertisement that captured the importance of keeping information to yourself. It was a quarter page with a big rooster that read “Let’s cut the CACKLE! So you know a secret! So You’ve come across some vital information! So you know about the movement of ships, planes, men or goods! Don’t crow about it! A secret told is no longer a secret! It’s a weapon in the hands of the enemy. REMEMBER – Our Enemies Are Everywhere.”
The importance of D-Day wouldn’t be fully recognized until well after the June 6 date. The following article that appeared in the Golden Star June 22, 1944 shows the recognition given to Canada’s contribution.
Canadian Troops – Their Contribution To the Vast And Important Assault on France
ARMY HEADQUARTERS, Somewhere in Britain. – Lt. Gen. Crear told correspondents that it will be difficult if not impossible to exaggerate the importance of the Canadian contribution to the cast and decisive assault on France.
The commander made the statement at the conclusion of a comprehensive off-the-record conference with allied war correspondents and gave permission for this portion of his remarks to be reported.
“I do not need to emphasize the eagerness with which I and all ranks of the Canadian army, wherever located, have been following the assault landing and the pride which we share in the magnificent part played by Canadians.
“We knew beforehand how well these especially-trained Canadian troops would carry out a difficult and vitally-important task.
“The enemy certainly shares that knowledge now.
“I believe that when the time comes that the complete story of the preparations and plan for this vast and decisive allied assault landing can be revealed the importance of the Canadian contribution to its success will be fully realized.
“It will be difficult if not impossible to exaggerate it.
“During the last year in Sicily and Italy and now in France, Canadian troops have shown their great and inherited qualities. You can count on it, they will continue to do so until the end and will spare themselves nothing to ensure that final victory suffers not delay.”