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Home Canada at War Canada at War - Normandy

Canada at War - Normandy

The landing on Normandy heavily improved upon the Dieppe plan. Every aspect was meticulously thought out to avoid another failure. This attack was planned using the combined forced of the air force, the navy, and infantry commandos as well as the general forces. First, a huge wave of bombers were sent to destroy the sea wall and knock out fortifications while surface ships fired on the coast. In the early morning 15000 Canadian troops and 4000 British troops landed on an 8 kilometre stretch of beach code- named "Juno." Their orders were to destroy enemy resistance on the beach and push their way to Caen and Carpiquet airfield by nightfall.

Fierce German resistance kept the Canadian troops from reaching their goals for three weeks. Upon hitting the beaches the Canadians found a huge labyrinth of mines and debris covering the beach. The most troublesome of these were the pillboxes and 88-mm guns in fortified positions on a concrete seawall. Parts of this seawall were destroyed which allowed the Modified Sherman tanks or "Funnies" to gain access to the land.

The Canadians had to fight every step of the way to Caen and Carpiquet airfield. At one point they faced the elite 12 S.S. panzer division manned by young German fanatics commanded by experienced officers and non commissioned troops. But the Canadians Triumphed and on July 10th, Caen was liberated by Canadian and British forces.

Following the liberation of Caen, the Canadians turned their attention to Falaise. Pushing towards Falaise they came under heavy fire and again engaged the 12th S.S. panzer division. To stop the 12 S.S. panzer division from making any more trouble, Operation Totalize was devised. It was designed to entrap the 12th division in between the Americans from behind and the Canadian forces at Falaise. The plan had proved to be devastatingly effective. Of the 20,000 troops in the 12th S.S. division, only 300 managed to escape the vice created by the Allies. Continuing to push further inward, on August 25, 1944 Paris was liberated.

On September 1st, Canadian pride was reestablished as the Canadian Hussars captured Dieppe. Antwerp was later captured on September 4th. With Antwerp captured its dock could be used to land troops and equipment more easily. Unfortunately, German positions on the towering cliffs above were in range of the port and therefore no equipment or troops could be landed. The Canadians were ordered to destroy these positions and were successful in their task but they suffered a high casualty toll. By the end of Operation Overlord, Allied casualties included 150,000 troops, 1,500 tanks, 5,300 ships and landing craft, 12,000 aircraft, and 20,000 airborne troops while the Allies managed to land 155000 soldiers, 6000 vehicles, and 3600 tonnes of supplies on Normandy's beaches.

As with World War 1, Canadians were not only considered expert and professional soldiers, they were feared by the Germans as an omen of impending attack. The Canadian forces were relied upon to provide defence on the high seas and over Britain, and to spearhead assaults for major battles. Once again Canadians had proved themselves on the battlefield and fought ferociously to win every battle they were engaged in. However because "The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies"(Lester Bowles Pearson - Men `Zines) we should now try to avoid any other war at all costs because of technology involved today a new World war would destroy humanity.
- ©James McAllister
May 15 1998

 

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