Tuesday, June 06, 2006

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.

For the more regular and rentintive among you this was posted last year at this time, but I'm swamped and wanted to make sure this date doesn't go by unnoticed. Especially with the media busy getting preoccupied with the numbers of this day instead of the history. In these sanitized and ignorant days that we live, where people prefer to watch only happy crap and fun things, I think it deserves saying over and over until people better understand the sacrifices of a soon to be forgotten generation.


Anonymous happy and blue 2 said...

Nice post. It is a time to remember those that sacrificed everything so that we don't have to..

8:21:00 PM  
Blogger ...just-rambling... said...

Touching post! Very nice!

It is officially 6/7/06 or 7/6/06, depending on your point of view, so we have survived the apocalypse!!!!!!

12:20:00 AM  
Blogger PBS said...

What a wonderful post! We should always remember and honor those who fight for our freedoms.

8:44:00 AM  
Blogger Walker said...

Great Post.
We must never forget what it costs to have the freedom we enjoy today.
I have a friend over there now taking pictures of grave stones at her expense for families of the ones that never made it home and can't go visit.

2:04:00 AM  

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