the day after d day

Deeper into France: So what happened the day after D Day? On June 7? And 8? 9? Whilst the D Day Landings on June 6 get the focus, landings on the coast of Normandy were ongoing and were often referred to in the notations as D+1 or D+2 (in other words, June 7 or 8).

The perception is that the first wave guys got the worst of it and it’s easy to forget about the risks taken in the ongoing push towards victory. Many don’t realize that beginning on June 7 more than 150 Canadian soldiers were captured and executed by the Hitler Youth under the command of the S.S., a total violation of the rules of war. Some men were sprayed with machine guns whilst others were shot in the back of the head with a pistol. A priest was bayoneted. The victims included Private Howard Angel, a father of four who was only thirty years old.

The commanding S.S. officer was Col. Kurt Meyer of the 12th Panzer Division. He was captured and sentenced (and incarcerated in Canada) but when it became apparent that his skills were needed during the Cold War, he was released in 1954.

When you are proudly told that Canadians were the only ones to meet our objectives on D Day this is super important and not just for bragging rights. That inland push was absolutely vital because German strategy was always to dig in and counterattack. As we were discussing the days after D Day on Twitter my friend @ElsbethMehrer made this comment:

“Love this thread. We were so taken by the cemetery at Beny-sur-mer and how far inland Canadians moved so quickly.”

Thank you so much for this comment, Elsbeth. Here’s a map showing Courseulles-sur-Mer (where Juno Beach is) and the place Elsbeth is talking about called Beny-sur-mer which is about six kilometres away. They have a Cimetière Canadien there too. The guys buried here died in the days and weeks after D Day.

Read more: Conduct Unbecoming by Howard Margolian.

Follow: @JunoBeachCentre.

Check out this outstanding article from the Ottawa Citizen.

d day

I definitely don’t feel qualified to weigh in on D Day as a historian. What I am going to do is share a few images and thoughts.

The map used on D Day

The journalist and historian Elinor Florence shared this image on her Twitter feed. Thank you @florencewriter for this map — it is awfully “primitive” looking as she says. It’s also the actual map used on D Day. (Wow!)

The German gun that was to cause such epic destruction on Juno Beach

This German gun had a great view of the beach, and it caused havoc on Juno All. Day. Long. It’s still sitting there on the coast of France, scowling across that beach, silenced.

Here’s what our Canadian boys were looking at and attempting to cope with on 6 June 1944, whilst being shot at. I have brothers in the age range of the majority of these young guys, and with love and respect, I wouldn’t necessarily count on them to pull of making a reservation at a restaurant for my parents’ anniversary, or to cook a meal for more than one person. Clearly, I underestimate them.

The average age of a soldier on D Day was 26.

Here in Calgary, the afternoon edition of the Calgary Herald reported that as news of the successful invasion in Normandy was emerging, thousands of Calgarians offered prayers of gratitude and relief. June is an odd time to quote a Christmas carol, but “a thrill of hope” is the phrase that comes to mind as one scans the articles. And already, the great pride that Canada would take in its contribution was growing in Canadian hearts. This young country had gone into battle with the biggest superpowers in the world, had done what it set out to do, and done it with valour.

I know we have times when we feel frustrated and resentful of our American neighbours. But I want to shout out to them, because in the integrated mission that was Operation Overlord, it was American pilots who were overhead in the skies protecting our infantry. Thank you, Americans. (Canadian pilots were at the British beaches, FYI). Whilst Canadians can be rightly proud of our accomplishments at Juno, the price paid on the American beaches of Utah and Omaha was exceptionally sobering. Juno had to be used in American propaganda photos because their own beaches were littered with corpses and deemed inappropriate for public consumption.

  • 340 Canadian families were to receive the news that a beloved person had been killed.
  • 574 Canadians were wounded (or, is that number — total. The brain of every single person who participated in and witnessed that battle was wounded and cursed and destined to remember. For life.)
  • 47 Canadians had the terrifying experience of being captured.

Seventy five years later, I am a Canadian woman who lives in a peaceful, first world country. I have never fallen asleep to the sound of gunfire (unless my brothers were shooting gophers). I have known nothing but peace, and safety, and freedom.

And far away at a beach in France there’s a tide that will always set a rhythm for my heart.