June 6 marks the 76th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944 during the Second World War. Canadian troops were assigned the June Beach objective as part of Operation Overlord – the allied invasion of Nazi-controlled Europe.
The Canadian troops stormed ashore at Juno Beach in the face of fierce opposition from German troops. Soldiers raced across the wide-open beaches swept with machine gun fire. Amidst fierce fighting, Canadians fought their way into the towns of Bernières, Courseulles and St. Aubin, and then advanced inland, securing a critical bridgehead for the allied invasion. The victory was a turning point in the Second World War.
14,000 Canadians landed at Juno Beach; in the days that followed they displayed tremendous courage, determination and self-sacrifice. 574 Canadian soldiers were wounded and 340 killed that day, including 9 soldiers from historic Mississauga. British Historian John Keegan stated: “At the end of the day, its forward elements stood deeper into France than those of any other division. The opposition the Canadians faced was stronger than that of any other beach save Omaha. That was an accomplishment in which the whole nation could take considerable pride.”
Those from historic Mississauga who lost their lives at Juno Beach include Private Howard Rex Arthur, Gunner Cyril De-Lisle Askin, Lieutenant Norman Harold Victor Brown, Rifleman Allan Murray Cheeseman, Lieutenant Charles William Cooper, Rifleman Michael Costello, Rifleman Albert E. Crocker, Private Wallace Cameron Pickering and Flying Officer Philip Nairn Thompson Van Alstyne.
We remember their brave service.