COURSEULLES-SUR-MER, France – A monument was unveiled today next to the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy to commemorate the role of the Royal Canadian Navy in the D-Day landing.
During the ceremony, Veteran Affairs Minister Greg Thompson lauded the role of Canadian sailors in the allied landing, which began the march to victory in Europe during World War II.
Thompson said the contribution of Canadian sailors was just as critical as those from other allied countries.
He said victory would not have been possible without them.
"That morning, Canada's naval contribution far exceeded what anyone might have expected from a country of only 12 million people at the time," Thompson said.
"And on that morning 65 years ago, our navy had rightfully earned its place alongside the seven other allied nations."
"We're very proud to remember, to honour their service and their sacrifice."
Thompson noted that even before D-Day, Canadian sailors in both the navy and merchant marine were involved in convoys that kept open the supply lines across the Atlantic during the war.
"But D-Day was extraordinary," he said.
More about Canada's part in the invasion -- a history most canadians don't know because they watch US TV and movies -- here.
My Uncles Nick and Bill were both in the Royal Canadian Navy, both at D-Day, both on Corvettes, both ferrying our troops to that deadly beach. Both signed up. Both were underage. Both made it home. Both died just a couple of years ago. Both are very much missed.
"The corvettes spent monotonous months plodding back and forth across the trackless waste of grey seas that were never at rest. To the men who sailed in these ships came a great weariness from the relentless watches, the untempting food, and the constant, chafing motion."
- Lieutenant William Pugsley, excerpts from Saints, Devils and Ordinary Seamen
To serve aboard a corvette required unflinching courage and tenacity, as demonstrated by the glorious deeds of Canadian sailors escorting merchant convoys. The corvette remains the symbol of the Royal Canadian Navy's relentless fight against enemy submarines during WWII.
I thought I had a photo of them in uniform, standing together, looking cocky like the two crazy kids they were. But I can't find it. Maybe I just dreamt it.
And here's to Bill and Nick. So very much missed.
He also sent a few words on where the boys served.
When siblings served together in the same service, they were ‘separated’
Because of this, Uncle Bill was based out of the west coast and although served on a couple corvettes, served predominately on the Prince Henry…a cruiser-convert.
My Dad, who was posted on the East coast, served on 5 different corvettes, as well as the destroyer St. Laurent. He was wounded during North-Atlantic escort duty, somewhere near Iceland.
Thanks for remembering the ‘trouble-makers’ ...
BTW: I am given to understand that one of these guys was running a floating craps game.