Maroon Maple (20)
|... Nature's marching orders have been received.|
The buds have opened. Before these young sprouts are mature leaves they will have to endure high winds, lashing rain, and merciless heat from the sun...
I want to dedicate this shot to the Canadians who took Juno Beach at the start of the allied invasion of Normandy [ Operation Overlord ]:
June 6, 1944
The Canadian ships reach mid-channel. Heavy clouds make the night black; the ships plow through high winds, heavy seas and driving rain.
Canadian soldiers on the transport ships are served breakfast.
Canadians on the invasion ships watch flashes in the east from Le Havre where the RAF is bombing heavy German guns. To the west, they see flares where the Germans have spotted the American convoy heading for Utah and Omaha beaches. Overhead, the transport aircraft are heard returning from their mission.
All soldiers are ordered on deck of the transports and muster at embarkation stations.
Dawn. All ships go to action stations.
The men on the ships can make out the dark grey line of the French coast ahead. The allied battleships and cruisers begin the bombardment of the beaches.
Destroyers and other warships closer in begin firing. At Juno Beach there is no return fire from the Germans.
The convoy breaks radio silence.
At Juno Beach, after an hour of tank, artillery, and battleship fire, the Germans begin returning fire on the Allied ships.
Most heavy support firing ends. Germans continue to attack the invasion force. Landing craft head for the beaches.
Landing craft reach the beach; first men and tanks land.
The first Canadian beachhead is established in Courseulles in Mike Sector by the Regina Rifles, covered by the tanks of the 1st Hussars. Naval gunfire had taken out the German guns in their area but nearby the Royal Winnipeg Rifles come under heavy fire – there the navy had missed the German guns and many of the soldiers die in the water, never reaching the beaches. In Nan Sector, the North Shore Regiment lands under heavy German fire.
The Queen's Own Rifles land at Nan Sector, held up by high seas. The soldiers have to run 200 yards from the shore to a seawall under fire from hidden German artillery. Only a few men of the first company survive.
Canadian soldiers are on the beach in all sectors. Reserve troops begin to reach the beach on the rising tide. While the Canadian Scottish suffers only light casualties, the landing craft bearing Le Régiment de la Chaudière hit hidden mines, killing many men. Others drown trying to reach the shore.
Major General Rod Keller, the Canadian commander at Juno Beach, reports: "Beach-head gained. Well on our way to our immediate objectives."
All units of the Third Canadian Division are on shore at Juno Beach.