A French veteran of the First World War greeting Universal Carriers of the South Saskatchewan Regiment during a Canadian advance in Normandy. July 20, 1944. Photo: George A. Cooper / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-131386
In the early hours of June 6th, 1944 the largest naval armada ever assembled – 5,300 ships carrying 150,000 troops - crossed the English Channel and landed at Normandy in Northern France. This was the first wave by Allied Forces in liberating Europe from Nazi control. Operation Overlord – D-Day was underway.
In conjunction with their British and American allies, the Canadian soldiers of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade landed at Juno beach; a key stretch of land in between British armies and a vital sector that, if broken, would jeopardize the entire D-Day invasion.
On this day, 72 years later, we take a moment to remember Canada’s important role in the liberation of Europe. I am reminded that the men landing at Juno beach, in the face of the strongest defensive fortifications the world has ever known, fearing for their lives and the lives of their friends, these men exemplify some of the best of what makes us Canadian; resilience, determination, and commitment to duty.
In the weeks and months that followed Canadian soldiers proved themselves time and again as they drove through Northern France. Along the way they suffered losses and atrocities, but they kept going. They were pivotal in freeing the Netherlands, cementing our country’s reputation in the hearts of millions of people in the process.
They knew then, as we know now, that they were not only liberating the people of Europe from a vicious ideology and dictatorship, they were safeguarding our country and our people back home from a similar fate.
And it is no less important today than it was 72 years ago. We must never forget the sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers then and today, as they fought for our freedom then, and continue to stand on guard for us today.
I invite everyone to learn more about Canada’s proud military history by visiting the Canadian War Museum and I invite everyone to take a quiet moment to think of those brave soldiers who, 72 years ago today, fought bravely to ensure all of us the freedom we all enjoy.
Greg Lawrence is the MLA for Moose Jaw Wakamow and serves as Saskatchewan Military Liaison, the Saskatchewan Party government's main contact with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces in Saskatchewan