John Joseph Paul Barrett
Francis Illuzzi Garcia-Pages
Txikia Tomeo Hernandez-Morales
Jesus Lazarus Miguelez

Operation Overlord: Juno Beach

Juno Beach was the code name given to the Canadian forces landing in Northern France on June 6, 1944 during Operation Overlord. Operation Overlord was the name given to the largest sea-to-land invasion in history. "At the outbreak of war in 1939 it was the militia battalions which were called out and, as in 1914, each individual serviceman was invited to decide whether or not he would serve overseas. (Keegan 119)"

"A Montreal militia battalion, the Regiment de Maisonneuve, was the first in Canada to produce a full complement for overseas service and, by January 1941, over 50,000 French Canadians were serving in the armed forces. (Keegan 120)"

"They provided nearly a third of the strength of the Royal Canadian Navy and fifteen of the seventy-five infantry battalions. (Keegan 120)"

"But all Canadians, even if they did not yet foresee how the invasion might precipitate a second conscription crisis, had special reason to hold their breath as what must be the invasion summer drew on. (Keegan 120)"

These men knew they were being thrown to their deaths. The 3rd Canadian Division had entered Dieppe and would not return. "Dieppe, in retrospect, looks so recklessly hare-brained an enterprise that it is difficult to reconstruct the official state of mind which gave it birth and drove it forward. (Keegan 121)"

Churchill was not enthusiastic but was encouraged that "if it was ever intended to invade France it was essential to launch a preliminary offensive on a divisional scale. (Keegan 121)"

"The 2nd Canadian Division was to sally forth in high summer from ports only seventy miles from the German-occupied coastline and disembark on the esplanade of a French seaside port. (Keegan 121)"

"The justification for choosing an objective which the Germans were known to occupy in strength was that the feasibility of capturing a harbour by direct assault had to be tested. (Keegan 121)"

"The risks were discounted by the argument that Commandos would disable the flanking batteries which bore on the beaches and harbour exit and that the close-in defenders would be overcome by tanks landed from the new Tank Landing Craft directly in the muzzles of their machine guns. (Keegan 121)"

On the morning of August 19th, 1942, "the Commandos, attacking up the high cliffs which march almost to the mouth of the little river Arques on which Dieppe stands, achieved their customary surprise and silenced the flanking batteries. (Keegan 121)"

"But the battalions of Canadian infantry and the tanks they had brought with them were stopped almost as soon as they had left their landing-craft, sometimes before. (Keegan 121)"

"The Royal Regiment of Canada, one of the three permanent battalions the dominion maintained in peacetime, was detailed to land in the mouth of a narrow gully which led into the cliffs at Puys, east of the harbour. (Keegan 121-122)"

"They had watched the approach of the landing-craft and, as soon as the ramps went down, directed the desperate fire of outnumbered men at the open mouths of the vessels. (Keegan 122)"

The Canadians "reeled momentarily before the storm and then burst through the curtain to find shelter under the sea wall. It was capped with [barbed] wire. (Keegan 122)"

"They blew a gap with their bangalore torpedoes. The first few scraped through to the cliffs beyond. The rest were barred by fire on the gap and killed by machine-guns firing 'in enfilade'-that is, at an angle to the Canadians' line of advance-from under the wall. (Keegan 122)"

Since they were constant fire, advancing was minute and required a lot of time. "By 8:30 a.m. every man on the beach was dead or captive. They had begun their landing only three hours before. (Keegan 122)"

One unit was able to pass the sea wall. However, "the party which had crossed the sea wall was, by report of the German 302nd Division, 'annihilated by assault detachment of 23 (Heavy) Aircraft Reporting Company.' (Keegan 122)"

"Out of 554 Royal Canadians who had disembarked, 94.5 percent had become casualties; 227 had been killed. Almost all were from the city of Toronto. (Keegan 122)"

"Operation Headquarters had decided to experiment with the direct disembarkation of a new tank--the Churchill-from a new type of assault vessel, the Landing Craft Tank. (Keegan 122)"

Each carried three smaller tanks. "There were ten LCTs, of which the first three were to beach with the craft carrying the two assaulting infantry battalions, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and the Essex Scottish. (Keegan 122)"

"In the event they arrived late and only five of their tanks managed to get off the beach on to the promenade...the following waves got ten of their tanks on to the promenade. (Keegan 122)"

However, due to large concrete obstacles, "all the tanks were confined within a zone on which heavy German fire played. (Keegan 123)"

"At first the fire was from guns too light to penetrate the thick armour of the Churchills...gradually the enemy brought heavier calibres to bear and, one by one, the Calgary Regiment's tanks fell silent. (Keegan 123)"

"When the badly shocked survivors of that terrible morning were got home and heads counted, only 2,110 of the 4,963 Canadians who had set sail the day before could be found. (Keegan 123)"

"It became known later that 1,874 were prisoners, but of these 568 were wounded and 72 were to die of their wounds, while 378 of the returning were also wounded. (Keegan 123)"

By July 1st, sixty-five percent of all Canadians were casualties. All the tanks that had landed had been lost. "The three Canadian battalions which had stormed the central beach had been opposed by a single German company. (Keegan 123)"

Over 7,400 shells of medium caliber had been fired. "[Germany] clearly could not be overcome merely by increasing of those embarked for the assault. That would be to repeat the mistakes of the First World War, when the solution of greater numbers resulted arithmetically in greater casualties for no territorial gain. (Keegan 124)"

"It would have to be offset by a change in technique. (Keegan 124)"

Works Cited
Keegan, John. Six Armies in Normandy. Viking Press: New York, 1982, pp. 115-125.