Today we travelled from Caen to Juno Beach, about a 20 minute drive. On the way we stopped at Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery. Many of those buried here were men of the 3rd Canadian Division who died either on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) or during the early days of the advance towards Caen. There are 2048 gravesites here with the majority of them being Canadian. The site honors the dead with lovely flowers, well kept lawns and hedges and a view that faces Juno Beach.
Once at Juno Beach we walked along the boardwalk and crossed over the dunes to the beach. There are a number of storyboards along the way telling the story of the first offensive of the Allieds on this day of days. Buried in the sand is a German bunker which gives you an idea of how close the enemy really was to the beach. Even though many young men perished that day, it is amazing to me that any of them actually made it up out of the water onto the beach without being completely slaughtered. Their courage is amazing!!
Situated immediately behind the beach is the Juno Beach Centre. This museum, established in 2003, gives a history of Canada before the Second World War, our contributions during the war – both in Europe and at home, our current role as peacekeepers around the world and finishes off with a very moving twelve minute film of the landing and subsequent fighting on D-Day and the days that followed. Richard and I spent at least three hours here and would recommend it to anyone – especially if you are a Canadian. It is emotional at times, very well organized and always informative.
We left the museum feeling that we have probably seen all that we can see at this time. Our minds are flooded with facts, our emotions are ragged, and yet our cup runneth over. We are so blessed to be Canadians and are so proud of those that have gone before us. There is nothing more to say.
The Canadian Flag greets you as you drive into the parking lot of Beny-sur-Mer.
The arrow on picture below this one shows where the German soldier was positioned at the top of the bunker.
Orders given to the Canadians as they landed at Juno Beach.
Col looking over the Memorial Bricks.
The five soldiers of the Remembrance and Renewal sculpture stand tightly in a circular formation, each looking outward in the distance. The massive figures undulate into one another, accentuating the unity and comradeship of those who served Canada at home and abroad. This memorial sculpture honours the sacrifices of all those who participated in the war effort, both in the field and in all operations in Canada, to help bring about the final victory.
As you know from the blog we paid a visit to Vimy Ridge which is the largest of the Canadian WWI memorials. Being as we were there just a few days ago Matthew Halton’s report connected with us in a profound way.