Monday, June 06, 2005

The Beginning Of The End

June 6th, 1944 saw one of the most critical battles of the Second World War take place along the beaches of Normandy, France. The Canadian troops focused on an eight-kilometer long stretch of beach bordering Saint-Aubin, Bernieres, Courseulles-sur-Mer and Graye-sur-Mer. Codenamed "Juno Beach" this would be their setting for the now infamous D-Day offensive that began the push to end the war.

After a massive aerial attack and naval barrage, platoons of men were dropped on the beach from the roughest seas possible in their landing craft to begin the assault. Many tanks and landing craft were capsized before landing and I can't imagine what it must have been like for the poor souls, beaching with the world around them being blown to hell. Just the trip in was unnerving for the men as this quote shows.
    "As we moved farther from the mother ship and closer to shore, it came as a shock to realize that the assault fleet just behind us had completely disappeared from view. All that remained within sight was our own fleet of ten assault craft, moving abreast in the early-morning silence in a gradually extending line facing the shore, the A Company boats on the right and the B Company boats on the left.
    Daylight. We had never felt so alone in our lives."
    - Charles Cromwell Martin, Battle Diary
Once on the beach the men fought their way up the beach into a raging firefight while their own artillery whizzed over their heads. They stormed in and ran for cover from the machine gun emplacements and the bunkers and prayed the reinforcing tanks would arrived soon. The bulk of the losses occurred during this harrowing time. These men were after the 75 and 88mm guns that were the biggest threat to the landing craft and tanks.

After securing the beachfront, they pushed inland and dug in as the day drew to a close. In a single day, 340 men of the 3rd Canadian Division were wounded and 574 were killed. These paled by comparison to some forces that spent the bulk of the day mired in conflict on the beaches most of the day.

What a way to start a day off. To think I get that sense of dread when faced with the morning commute! We honour those whose lives were sacrificed and put at risk to ensure our freedom on Remembrance Day, but not usually much more. If you know someone who was involved in the war so many years ago take a moment to give them a call or pay them a visit and thank them. You can be sure that with this grim anniversary in their minds, they could use contact with an appreciative soul. Thank them for defending people who they not only didn't know, but people who wouldn't have even been born today had they not put their own selves aside and taken up the cause.

I want to offer my thanks to those that gave their lives and their hearts to the preservation of the lives and world we know and love today. Your sacrifice and dedication will never go unappreciated by myself and hopefully, with the efforts of we that care, they also never go unforgotten. As the years go by and time claims those that the war was never able to, we need to remember what they fought for and their love for their fellow man that drove to them such extreme heroic measures.

Your place of honour in my heart shall always be there for you for taking those steps that we hopefully never take again and may never have been able to do ourselves.

May the Lord watch over you and never again let you see conflict again.

For more information on the Canadian role, please take time to check out the Juno Beach Centre website. This was constructed to remember our role in the war fought by many countries to free a world mired in conflict.


Blogger blue2go said...

Great post to make us all think. My Dad was there, but not in the first wave. He didn't like to talk about it or other things about his service with the Army Engineers in WWII. That kinda says it all....

10:23:00 AM  
Blogger JODSTER said...

Yuo are great at keeping this topical! Thanks for remembering...

10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Excellent post, Rainypete!

11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Schotzy said...

it give me chills to think of the bravery on sacrafice these men gave for the rest of us, my dad was there too, not in the invasion but throughout the whole thing before the invasion. That is one portion of his life he never shared with us kids. S

1:36:00 PM  
Blogger dan said...

Wow, that's a heavy duty post.

Both my grandfathers fought in WWII and were lucky enough to survive.

Neither of them ever spoke much about the war.

1:42:00 PM  
Blogger Rainypete said...

One of the first things I hear fom any veteran I talk to is that they don't want to talk about it. That's one of the biggest ironies of the whole tragic war. Those that were there wish to forget and those who weren't there have no business forgetting. We owe so much to those that gave, the least we can do is remember their sacrifice.

5:26:00 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Your last comment has said it all.

5:57:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

A very moving tribute Pete. And your comment above is so true. My ex father in law refuses to talk about it. I dragged him along to Xmas Carols at my children's school many years ago...during Silent Night a lone tear travelled down his cheek. He said "Can you imagine over 500 soldiers singing that on a lonely Xmas night?" My heart aches for those that endured such a time, and I'm grateful for the efforts of their service to their respective countries. May we never forget.

8:04:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Thanks, RP, for reminding us.

11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Hick said...

Wonderful post. May the good Lord bless and keep those brave men and their families who gave so much.

11:08:00 AM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

i would like to thank you for your post. we should never forget the people that have fought so we can be free. thanks again.

3:32:00 PM  
Blogger glomgold said...

Well stated. They certainly sacrificed for something worthwhile.

11:19:00 AM  

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