D-Day: Juno Beach
3rd Canadian Infantry Division Land in Normandy
Canadian infantrymen on Juno Beach, France, 6 June 1944. The beach spanned from Courseulles, a village just east of the British beach Gold, to Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, and just west of the British beach Sword. Taking Juno was the responsibility of the Canadian Army, with sea transport, mine sweeping, and a naval bombardment force provided by the Royal Canadian Navy and the British Royal Navy as well as elements from the Free French, Norwegian, and other Allied navies. The objectives of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division on D-Day were to cut the Caen-Bayeux road, seize the Carpiquet airport west of Caen, and form a link between the two British beaches on either flank. Juno Beach was defended by two battalions of the German 716th Infantry Division, with elements of the 21st Panzer Division held in reserve near Caen.
Supporting the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division were the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (with amphibious DD tanks) and No. 48 Commando, Royal Marines.
The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, with the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade under command, landed in two brigade groups, the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade and the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade. Each brigade had three infantry battalions and an armoured regiment in support, two artillery field regiments, combat engineer companies and extra units from the British 79th Armoured Division. The 10th Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse) tanks supported the 7th Brigade landing on the left and the 6th Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) tanks supported the landing on the right. The 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade was kept in reserve and landed later that day and advanced through the lead brigades. The 27th Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment) provided tank support.
The initial assault was carried out by: North Shore Regiment on the left at St. Aubin (Nan Red beach); Queen’s Own Rifles in the centre at Bernières (Nan White beach); Regina Rifles at Courseulles (Nan Green beach); and the Royal Winnipeg Rifles on the western edge of Courseulles (Mike Red and Mike Green beaches).
After a less-than-effective preliminary bombardment and delays due to rough seas, the Canadians initially encountered heavy resistance from the German 716th Division. Several assault companies—notably those of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada—took heavy casualties in the opening minutes of the first wave. Strength of numbers, co-ordinated fire support from artillery and armoured squadrons, cleared most of the coastal defences within two hours of landing. The reserves of the 7th and 8th brigades began deploying at 08:30 (along with the Royal Marines), while the 9th Brigade began its deployment at 11:40. Allied losses were 340 dead, 574 wounded and 47 captured.
Military Units Featured
3rd Canadian Infantry Division
The 3rd Canadian Division is a formation of the Canadian Army responsible for the command and mobilization of all army units in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, as well as all units extending westwards from the city of Thunder Bay. It was first created as a formation of the Canadian Corps during the First World War. It was stood down following the war and was later reactivated as the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division during the Second World War. The second iteration served with distinction from 1941 to 1945, taking part in the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944. A duplicate of the 3rd Canadian Division was formed in 1945 to serve on occupation duty in Germany, and was disbanded the following year. In 2013, Land Force Western Area, a peacetime military organization in western Canada, was ordered to be redesignated as 3rd Canadian Division. On 6 June 2014, the 3rd Canadian Division adopted the insignia, traditions and history of the previous formations. From the middle of 1916, the division has been identified by a distinctive French-Grey patch worn on the uniforms of its soldiers.
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