On June 6, 1944, a massive Allied force crossed the English Channel to engage in Operation Overlord on the coast of Normandy. There were five landing zones, given special code names that have become forever ingrained in the identity of the region: Juno Beach (Canada); Gold Beach (United Kingdom); Sword Beach (United Kingdom); Utah Beach (United States) and Omaha Beach (United States).
The mission of the 450+ Canadian paratroopers and the some 14,000 Canadian troops who joined the firefight on Juno beach was to establish a beachhead along an eight-kilometre stretch fronting the villages of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer, and Saint Aubinsur- Mer. Once secure, the troops would push inland to capture the city of Caen, an important communications centre for the Germans. The brutal battle for Caen dragged on for several weeks, but with so many German divisions focused on holding the city, the U.S. forces were eventually able to break through the sparse defences to the south, and moving east, threatened to encircle the German forces in Normandy from behind.
In mid-August, Canadians played an important role in closing the “Falaise Gap” as the Germans finally retreated in the face of the Allied offensive. Two days later, on August 25, 1944, Paris was liberated by the Allies, officially bringing the Normandy campaign to a close.
Canadian forces suffered the most casualties of any division in the Commonwealth Army Group, and more than 5,000 Canadian soldiers were laid to rest in the region.
Our D-Day tour will help you pay honour to this legacy of selfless bravery.