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June 6, 2018 will mark the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, a massive undertaking and the largest amphibious assault in history. The Allies attacked Northern France at 5 beaches with the ultimate goal being to establish a beachhead as part of Operation Overlord, to open a second front in the war against Nazi Germany, and alleviate pressure off the Eastern Front, where Soviet Russia faced the bulk of Germany’s forces.
Dieppe Raid by Charles Fraser Comfort at the Canadian War Museum
So what was Canada’s role on D-Day? 2 years earlier, Canadian forces took part in Operation Jubilee, also known as the Dieppe Raid. An Allied force predominantly composed of Canadians raided the French coast in hopes to gather intelligence and destroy coastal defences and strategic buildings. The raid was a disaster; no objectives were met and of the 4,963 Canadians that were part of the operation only 2,210 returned. However, the harsh lessons learnt there that day influenced the future D-Day invasion of Normandy.
On June 6, 1944, the majority of Canadian forces landed on the Juno beach. Here, they were able to seize control of the beach within two hours of landing but faces heavy resistance when pushing inland towards Carpiquet. Despite this, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was able to push further inland than any other force landing on D-Day. Canadians suffered nearly 1000 casualties on D-Day, but their success, and that of the Allies, meant that the Soviets could launch an offensive of their own, Operation Bagration, and signaled the final stages of one the deadliest conflicts in history.