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‘A fantastic museum, a credit to all those who fought’
Memories of D-Day: Juno Beach
Royal Navy Beach Commandos on Juno Beach
Juno was the Canadian beach. Here, the 3rd Canadian Division faced tough opposition before it was able to drive inland and link with British troops on Gold Beach, to the west.
A Canadian officer on board a Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) describes landing on Juno Beach:
“ At about 8 o’clock, our craft formed line and we were going in. Most of the fellows were ready. I was interested in the expressions on their faces – some looked like a wounded spaniel, some were quite nonchalant about it, others made a feeble effort at gaeity. What amused me most was a fat boy trying to whistle, but the best he could do was blow air, with a squeak now and then. Just between ourselves, I was pretty scared myself about that time. Those last few moments were awful, it was the waiting that was hard. We were coming under pretty intense small arms fire by this time. At last the gangways were run down, and it was a case of get up and get in and get down. I manoeuvred into position to be as near as possible to the front. I wanted to be one of the first to land, not because of any heroics, but waiting your turn on the exposed ramp was much worse than going in.”
Once he had landed: “Many of the troops had already crossed the beach and were fighting forward towards their objective, a ridge back from the beach a few hundred yards. If, as the radio announced later, it was an unopposed landing, God forbid that anyone should ever have to go in on an opposed one! Our beach was littered with those who had been a jump ahead of us. A captured blockhouse being used as a dressing station was literally surrounded by piles of bodies.”
[Warren Tute Collection, D-Day Museum]
M.G. Gale was the driver of a Sherman tank in 44th Royal Tank Regiment, 4th Armoured Brigade, and landed on Juno Beach on D+1 (7 June 1944).
“ We had been in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, and were I suppose veterans, having taken part in two D-Day landings. We knew when we were all told to man our tanks and prepare to start engines that the time to land was close. The ship slowed to a halt, the bows opened and there before us in the morning light was the beach. Fighting was going on just off the beach. I moved the tank very slowly down the ramp and began to ease her off the end, waiting for the drop into what we had expected to be about 6 ft of water. We were all battened down, and well waterproofed, which as it turned out was just as well, because instead of 6 ft there was 10 or 12 ft of water. Unknown to the ship’s captain, we had pulled in right onto a shell hole, and there we were, well under water. Before I could decide what to do, voices were reaching us over our radio telling us not to try to move. The water as it turned out was almost to the top of our air intake, and if we had tried to pull out, the rear of the tank would have gone down and perhaps we would have all been drowned. I was told to cut the engine and wait for instructions. We sat there waiting for the tide to go out for almost two hours. We were able to follow what was going on, on the radio, but seeing nothing except water through our periscopes, until at last as the water went down, we could see and finally with the better part of our Regiment well off the beaches we were able to rejoin them. We had not enjoyed our forced stay in the water but who knows, because of it perhaps I am alive today.”
[Warren Tute Collection, D-Day Museum]
Photographs courtesy of the D-Day Museum, the Imperial War Museum, US Navy/US Coast Guard, and The News, Portsmouth. Images may not be copied without permission.