Plans for the D-Day landings in Normandy. (United Kingdom Government)

Special feature: D-Day was the beginning of the end of the Second World War

The 75th anniversary of D-Day isn’t just about marking this momentous day in history

By T.W. Paterson

The 75th anniversary of D-Day isn’t just about marking this momentous day in history; D-Day, after all, was just the beginning of the liberation of Europe after five years of German occupation. The Second World War in Europe, with all its horrors, would drag on for almost another year.

But June 6, 1944 was the final turning point; those first crucial hours and days on the Normandy shore known to Canadians as Juno Beach helped to turn the tide of history. Hence, three-quarters of a century later, our fascination with this epochal event.

To mark the diamond jubilee of D-Day the Cowichan Valley Citizen asked historical columnist T.W. Paterson to prepare this special report on how D-Day and its immediate aftermath impacted local families who had loved ones and friends in the front lines: on the beach, in the air and at sea. From local newspaper accounts of the day he has tried to capture what it was like for Valley residents to sit by the radio and to pore over the latest news reports, all the while wondering and worrying about the safety of their fathers, sons and brothers who, they worried, were in the thick of the fighting.

Newscasting has changed dramatically in 75 years; today we can follow the latest developments on our TVs and smartphones as they occur; 75 years ago, strict military censorship prevailed. Until troops actually landed, it must be remembered, the long awaited invasion of France was kept top secret, not just to the Germans but to the folks at home.

T.W. begins by placing D-Day in historical context with the help of The Canadian Encyclopedia:

A stretch of six miles (10km) of Normandy shoreline was Canada’s share of the Allied invasion of France. The men chosen to lead the assault were the Canadian Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade. German resistance was fierce and the Canadians took heavy casualties before, as much thanks to innumerable acts of personal courage as to outstanding planning and leadership, they established a beachhead by day’s end. In total, more than 14,000 Canadian soldiers landed or parachuted into France on D-Day. Casualties were somewhat fewer than expected but dear: 1,074 in total, including 359 killed.

This is the momentous role played by Canadians that we’re most familiar with: the hundreds of landing craft supported by an armada of warships and soldiers storming the beaches. But many other Canadians were involved in the air and at sea: 100 Canadian warships — 10,000 Canadian seamen — and 15 fighter and fighter-bomber Squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Among them, soldiers, seamen and airmen from the Cowichan Valley whom we honour today…

Just Posted

Editorial: Election vandalism poor way to express an opinion

It was discouraging to hear that two acts of vandalism targeting candidates… Continue reading

Rain raises water levels in Cowichan Lake

Possibility that pumps could be shut down soon

Caps beat Chiefs at home, then bow to Kings

Injuries, suspensions, travel all effect trip to Powell River

Cowichan residents invited to apply for seats on affordable housing committees

“Lack of affordable housing is a critical issue in the Cowichan region”

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Man who crushed Nanaimo RCMP cars with stolen truck gets more jail time

Majore Jackson, 34, sentenced to two more years in jail in provincial court in Nanaimo

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

B.C. population on pace to fall behind Alberta

Provincial population could reach almost seven million in 2043, but Alberta is growing faster

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Most Read