Today, June 6th, marks the anniversary of D-Day when the allies landed at Normandy in 1944 and marked some of Canada’s most significant military feats of WWII.
On a personal note, it also marks the birthday of my uncle Webster Lee, who at the time was serving in Sicily and then Italy. He was part of the first large-scale land operation in which the Canadian Army that had been stationed in Great Britain took part. In this campaign, which was fought in Sicily from July 10 to August 6, 1943, and in mainland Italy from September 3, 1943, to February 25, 1945, the fighting was particularly bitter.
Whenever he talked of being overseas however, he made light of it saying how it was great to be there where the weather was always sunny and in the land of wine.
My uncle Bill, uncle Web’s younger brother, was also there except he wasn’t in “sunny Sicily”. He landed on D-day and lost both legs. We never did know how he survived but he did come home. He never talked about any of it.
They were not even men … they were boys.
The Canadian Army, invading at Juno beach, totalled 14,000 with the Navy having added 10,000 sailors and 110 ships in support, as well as the RCAF having 15 fighter and fighter-bomber squadrons as part of the assault. That day, there were 1,074 Canadian casualties including 359 killed.
When the Battle of Normandy ended in August, there were 18,700 Canadian casualties, with more than 5,000 having died.
D-Day tested the mettle of the Canadian troops and they proved their worth when it came to fighting in a land that few had even seen up to that day.
To read more about D-Day and the bravery of the Canadian young men who went to war, CLICK HERE
We will remember them …