Canadian 3rd Infantry Division
3rd Canadian Infantry Division on D-Day
Operation OVERLORD called for the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division to be the assault division on Juno Beach, the 6-mile-long beach that lay between Gold and Sword Beaches. H-Hour at Juno was set for 0745, which would give the landing craft enough clearance to make it in on the rising tide. Juno Beach had been divided into two main sectors: Mike which ran westward from the sea-side village of Courseulles-sur-mer and Nan, which ran eastward from the same town. D-Day objects for the Canadians were to cut the Caen-Bayeux road, seize the airport west of Caen, and make contact with forces from both Sword and Gold Beaches.
Actual landings began at 0755, due in part to rough seas. The Canadians faced a tough ride in and the delay gave the tide extra time to further move in. Coxwains had to steer their landing craft through the partially obscured German obstacles and many hit mines and exploded, taking a heavy toll on the attackers. Approximately 30% of the landing craft at Juno were destroyed or damaged. Many of the first wave units took heavy casualties from enfilading fire on the beaches. The Royal Winnipeg Rifles were especially hard hit and one company sustained more than 50% casualties. Determination and resilience carried the Canadian forward, and, by the middle of the day, units had secured the coastal towns of Bernieres and Saint-Aubin. By late afternoon, armored units forced their way to the Caen-Bayeux road, securing one of the Canadians most important objectives.
The fighting on Juno had been extremely tough, but the hard-charging Canadians pushed their way through. By nightfall, a link-up to the west with the British 50th Division had been achieved. There was still a 2-mile gap to the east in the direction of Sword Beach, however, and elements of the German 21st Panzer Division advanced in this area before being beaten back. But, by this time, the Allied had secured themselves a small, but solid foothold in Normandy. D-day losses on Juno Beach amounted to approximately 1200 out of the 21,000 plus that landed there on June 6th.
For more information about the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division:
The Juno Beach Centre – Homepage of The Juno Beach Centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy.
Juno Beach-The Canadians on D-Day – Lots of information about Canadian forces on D-Day.
CBC Archives: D-Day: Canadians Target Juno Beach – From CBC. Contains many video clips from then-and-now.
6 Juin 1944 : les Canadiens débarquent – Extensive amount of material regarding the role of Canadians in the Operation Overlord. In French language.