The iconic footage below is from the grainy black and white film shot in the early morning of June 6, 1944 by Sergeant Bill Grant of the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit. It is one of the few surviving clips showing the landing of Canadian troops from the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment on Nan Red Beach, the codename for their section of Juno Beach at Bernières-sur-Mer, France.
In all 15,000 Canadians in the 3rd Canadian Division landed in France on D-Day. This number includes over 450 who landed by parachute or by glider as part of the assault by the men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion on the bridges on the Dives and Divette in Varaville. Ten thousand sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 109 vessels were also involved in the assault.
The Canadian objectives were to:
- establish a beachhead,
- capture the three small seaside towns of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières and St. Aubin,
- advance ten miles inland,
- cut the Caen-Bayeux highway,
- seize the Carpiquet airport west of Caen,
- and form a link between the British beachheads codenamed Sword and Gold.
Canadian troops endured some of the heaviest fighting on D-Day, second only to the American assault on Omaha Beach. Despite this the 3rd Canadian Division progressed further inland than any other of the Allies on D-Day. Casualties on D-Day included 340 killed, 574 wounded and 47 taken prisoner. During the first six days of the campaign, 1,017 Canadians died, and by the end of the two and a half month Normandy campaign, Canadian casualties totalled more than 18,000, including more than 5,000 dead. Lest We Forget.