ARCHIVED - Canadian Participation on D-Day and In The Battle of Normandy

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Backgrounder / June 4, 2004

“History has its defining moments, and for the Second World War in Europe, June 6, 1944 has a status all its own. Although no one will ever forget the massive effort of the Soviet armed forces in the east, or of 1st Canadian Corps and our allies in Italy, D-Day represented the launching of the Second Front, the beginning of the liberation of western Europe, and the start of the long hard campaign to move from the English Channel to the Rhine and, ultimately, into the heart of the Third Reich. Canadians from all provinces and territories participated in this epic event: at sea, in the air, and on the ground – and they participated in the Battle of Normandy which followed the successful amphibious assault.”

- Dr. Steve Harris, Chief Historian, Directorate of History & Heritage, National Defence

It is very easy to allocate the named Army regiments of infantry and armour to current geographical areas, but with the way the Army artillery, engineers, and other combat service support units were organized during the Second World War, it is impossible to provide definite links to today's units. That means that whatever Army or militia units happen to be in a provincial capital could be participants because their 'corps' or branch as a whole was involved. The same would be true for the naval reserve: the navy should be represented at the 'service' level. Every RCAF squadron based in the United Kingdom was involved in supporting Operation NEPTUNE/OVERLORD.

East-West Boundaries of Juno Beach

Juno Beach - Centre of British Front that is from the Cotentin Peninsula to the mouth of the River Orne. Canadians were responsible for establishing a beachhead along approximately 8 km from about Courseulles-sur-Mer (~ 49 E 21 N N 00 E 27 N W) in the West to St-Aubin-Sur-Mer in the East. (~ 49 E 20 N N 00 E 23 N W).

Timing and Duration of landing:

The timing and duration of the landings pose some difficulty. Historians and servicemen alike cannot agree on the exact time, or who first reached the beach. Complications with time zones pose the most significant problems because there was no uniform way of keeping time charts.

The following is an outline of the sequence of events surrounding the landing. Interpretation varies as to when exactly the assault began (i.e. when the minesweepers left England, when the air force left, when the ships left, etc...).

Sequence of Events for D-Day

  • Early morning, June 5: minesweepers left Portland.

  • Approximately 09:00, June 5: the ships carrying the men left port.

  • 23:31, June 5: RAF Bomber Command began its attack upon the ten selected coastal batteries.

  • 00:50, June 6: the 6th Airborne made a drop near Ranville.

  • 06:34: landing craft headed for Juno Beach

  • Landings were scheduled to begin at 07:30 and they continued until 09:00.

  • Organized movement forward ceased before dark in order to allow preparations for defence to take place. However, fighting continued in several areas throughout the night.

Royal Canadian Naval Forces

According to "Preliminary Numbers on Normandy/D-Day," RCN provided 126 vessels on D-Day and ~11,000 sailors.

Ships

HMCS Algonquin

HMCS Mimico

HMCS Baddeck

HMCS Minas

HMCS Bayfield

HMCS Moosejaw

HMCS Blairmore

HMCS Mulgrave

HMCS Calgary

HMCS Ottawa

HMCS Camrose

HMCS Outremont

HMCS Canso

HMCS Port Arthur

HMCS Cape Breton

HMCS Prescott

HMCS Caraquet

HMCS Prince David

HMCS Chaudiere

HMCS Prince Henry

HMCS Cowichan

HMCS Qu’Appelle

HMCS Drumheller

HMCS Regina

HMCS Fort William

HMCS Restigouche

HMCS Gatineau

HMCS Rimouski

HMCS Georgian

HMCS St Laurent

HMCS Grou

HMCS Saskatchewan

HMCS Guysborough

HMCS Sioux

HMCS Haida

HMCS Skeena

HMCS Huron

HMCS Stormont

HMCS Kenora

HMCS Summerside

HMCS Kitchener

HMCS Swansea

HMCS Kootenay

HMCS Teme

HMCS Lindsay

HMCS Thunder

HMCS Louisburg

HMCS Trentonian

HMCS Lunenburg

HMCS Vegreville

HMCS Malpeque

HMCS Wasaga

HMCS Matane

HMCS Waskesiu

HMCS Mayflower

HMCS Woodstock

HMCS Milltown

 

However, on the list of "Canadian Armed Forces Associated With D-Day Landings" there are 57 ships listed, plus eight Flotillas. The flotillas comprised smaller vessels (minesweepers and the like, many of them not named but numbered) of eight to 12 vessels each.

29th Canadian Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla

65th Canadian Motor Torpedo Boat Flotilla

260th Canadian L.C.I. Flotilla

262nd Canadian L.C.I. Flotilla

264th Canadian L.C.I. Flotilla

528th Canadian L.C.A. Flotilla

529th Canadian L.C.A. Flotilla

31st Mine Sweeping Flotilla

Participating Army Units on D-Day

2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

6th Armoured Regiment –1st Hussars, London, Ont
10th Armoured Regiment – Fort Garry Horse, Winnipeg
27th Armoured Regiment – Sherbrooke Hussars and Sherbrooke Fusiliers

3rd Canadian Infantry Div

7th Recce Regiment, Royal Canadian Hussars, Montreal
Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa
Royal Winnipeg Rifles
Regina Rifles
Canadian Scottish Regiment, Victoria
Highland Light Infantry – Royal Highland Fusiliers, Waterloo.
Regiment de la Chaudiere
North Shore New Brunswick (now 2nd Battalion, Royal New Brunswick Regiment, Bathurst)
Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Highlanders, Cornwall
North Nova Scotia Highlanders – 1st Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders, Truro

The Battle of Normandy

18th Armoured Car Regiment – 12th Manitoba Dragoons
8th Recce Regiment – 14th Hussars, Swift current, Saskatchewan
29th Recce Regiment – South Alberta Regiment, now South Alberta Light Horse, Medicine Hat
Governor General's Horse Guards, Toronto
Governor General's Foot Guards, Ottawa
Canadian Grenadier Guards, Montreal
British Columbia Regiment, Vancouver
25th Armoured Delivery Regiment – The Elgin Regiment, now an Engineer regiment, Chatham
Toronto Scottish Regiment
Royal Regiment of Canada, Toronto
Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
Essex Scottish Regiment – Essex and Kent Scottish, Windsor
The Black Watch, Montreal
Le Regiment de Maisonneuve, Montreal
The Calgary Highlanders
Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, Montreal
The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, Winnipeg
The South Saskatchewan Regiment
The New Brunswick Rangers
The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, St Catharines
The Algonquin Regiment
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Hamilton
The Lake Superior Regiment – Lake Superior Scottish, Thunder Bay.

The Lorne Scots, Brampton, provided defence platoons, as did The Royal Montreal Regiment and Prince Edward Island Light Horse.

No Longer in Order of Battle

New Brunswick Rangers, South Saskatchewan Regiment, 14th Hussars, and 12th Manitoba Dragoons.

Royal Canadian Air Force Squadrons

2nd Tactical Air Force - 83 Group:

126 Wing - 401, 411, 412 Squadrons
127 Wing - 403, 416, 421 Squadrons
144 Wing - 441, 442, 443 Squadrons
143 Wing - 438, 439, 440 Squadrons
39(R) Wing - 414, 430 Squadrons

2nd Tactical Air Force - 85 Group:

409, 410 Squadrons

Fighter Command - 10 Group:

406 Squadron

Fighter Command - 11 Group:

402, 418 Squadrons

Bomber Command - 6 (RCAF) Group:

408, 419, 420, 424, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 431, 432, 433, 434 Squadrons

Bomber Command - 8 (P.F.F.) Group:

405 Squadron

Coastal Command - 15 Group:

423 Squadron

Coastal Command - 16 Group:

415 Squadron

Coastal Command - 19 Group:

404, 407 Squadron

D-Day Casualties

RCN

7 wounded

CANADIAN ARMY

Killed in action/died of wounds (34 officers, 335 other ranks), wounded (49 officers, 666 other ranks, including one officer and 25 other ranks who died of wounds from 7 to 28 June 1944). Total fatal and non-fatal casualties were 73 officers and 1001 other ranks for total of 1074.

RCAF

43 killed

Sources: For the army, the official history is C.P. Stacey's The Victory Campaign; for the air force, vol. 3 of the official history, The Crucible of War; for the navy, vol. 2 part, 2 of the official history, not yet published.

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