"POSTCARDS FROM JUNO" SENT HOME 75 YEARS LATER:
JUNO BEACH CENTRE SHARES THE MEMORY OF CANADIANS KILLED IN ACTION ON D-DAY
June 6th, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day when 14,000 Canadian soldiers
stormed Juno Beach on France's northern coast. Part of the largest seaborne invasion
in history that included 142,000 British and American allies, D-Day marked the beginning
of Europe's liberation from Nazi Germany and the end of the Second World War.
Tragically, more than 900 Canadians from communities across Canada died during the
first five days of the Battle of Normandy -- between June 6 and June 10, 1944. To
mark this important milestone in Canadian history and honour the fallen, the Juno
Beach Centre, Canada's only Second World War museum located on Juno Beach itself,
is sending personalized postcards to the current residents of hundreds of homes
across Canada linked to the soldiers who died. The postcards include the name, rank,
and age of the soldier linked to each address. "Letting someone know that a Canadian
war hero left their house 75 years ago is a very special way of preserving the stories
of these soldiers," says Mike Bechthold, Executive Director of the Juno Beach Centre
Association. "It's also a unique way to bridge the years and connect generations
so young people today can get a glimpse into the lives of the young soldiers who
once lived in their very homes – all of them volunteers." Recipients of "Postcards
from Juno" are encouraged to share their home's special history and their personal
reflections on receiving the card, through social media (@JunoBeachCentre, #JunoPostcards).
D-DAY FAST FACTS
The beaches: On June 6, 1944, the Allied assault force landed on a 75 km
stretch of heavily-defended beach on the northern coast of France, in the Normandy
region. From west to east, the beaches were codenamed Utah (American), Omaha (American),
Gold (British), Juno (Canadian), and Sword (British).
D-Day participants by nationality: The Allies landed 156,000 troops on D-Day.
By sea, the Americans landed 23,250 at Utah and 34,250 at Omaha, the British landed
24,970 at Gold and 28,845 at Sword, and the Canadians and British landed 14,000
and 7,000 respectively at Juno Beach. Approximately 23,400 paratroopers landed by
air on the extreme west and eastern flanks of the assault area.
Canadian objectives on D-Day: The Canadian objective on June 6th was to storm Juno
Beach and reach a railway line linking Caen in the east to Bayeux in the west. They
would dig in here, link with British troops on their left and right, and create
a fortress defence against expected German counter-attacks. What the Canadians accomplished:
While the Canadians did not capture all their objectives on D-Day, they did advance
the furthest. Over the following three days, the Canadians fought a series of bloody
battles holding off repeated German counter-attacks that threatened the entire Allied
front line in France.
What happened next: After 76 days of intense combat in Normandy, the remnants
of two defeated German armies retreated across France. The Canadian Army joined
in the pursuit and fought through Belgium and the Netherlands before striking into
Germany, which surrendered on May 8, 1945.
- Only known video of Canadian soldiers approaching Juno Beach by landing craft on
- Jim Parks, D-Day veteran, describes landing on Juno Beach (0:13). Private Jim Parks
served with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and was 19 years old on D-Day. He was born
in Winnipeg but now lives in Mount Albert, Ontario (north of Toronto).
- Robert Spencer, D-Day veteran, describes the secrecy surrounding D-Day (0:16). Lieutenant
Robert Spencer enlisted with the Victoria Rifles but served overseas with the 15th
Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, 4th Canadian Armoured Division. Robert
was 23 on D-Day and lives in Ottawa. He was enrolled at McGill University in Montreal
when he volunteered for the Army.
About the Juno Beach Centre
The Juno Beach Centre is Canada's Second World War museum and cultural centre located
on Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. Founded by veterans and
volunteers in 2003, the Centre's mandate is to preserve the legacy of all Canadians
who served during the Second World War. Fifteen years and one million visitors later,
the Juno Beach Centre has been designated a site of national historic significance
to Canada. The Juno Beach Centre Association is a Canadian charitable organization
which owns and operates the Juno Beach Centre.
5,500 NAMES, 5,500 CANADIAN STORIES
On 6 June 1944, 14,000 Canadians landed on Juno Beach as part of the Allied invasion
of Normandy, known to history as D-Day. By the end of August, more than 90,000 Canadians
participated in the fighting from Juno to the closing the Falaise Pocket, the beginning
of the end for Hitler's Germany. Nearly 5,500 Canadians were killed in Normandy
and remain there today. In 2019, the Juno Beach Centre will mark the 75th anniversary
of these events by drawing special attention to the Canadians who were killed during
the days between D-Day and the end of the Battle of Normandy. Canadians have the
chance to engage in an Act of Remembrance by supporting the Juno Beach Centre and
paying tribute to those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Through the dedication of nearly 5,500 dog tags – one for each Canadian killed during
the Normandy Campaign – the Juno Beach Centre hopes to raise $500,000 to support
future educational and commemorative initiatives. Each tag is inspired by the actual
identity discs worn by Canadian servicemen during the Second World War.
For more information:
Canada's Juno75 Commemorative Campaign: