On the days coming up to our Remembrance Day I always think about our visits to the War Cemetery’s in France, Belgium, Holland and Italy. We have visited many of them. Susan & I toured Normandy in 1998. Youngest son Jackson and I toured Normandy, Belgium, and a bit of Holland in 2005. Susan and I visited Italian sites in 2012 and 2014. Having read a lot of the history of World War ll, I have found the need to see these places where so many young Canadians are buried.
Canadian troops landed on Juno Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944 and fought heroically all the way to Germany. Canadian troops landed in Italy in 1943 and helped drive the Gorman army out if Italy.
Not far from Juno Beach where Canadians landed on D-Day is the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery where 2,044 Canadian boys are buried. It’s a beautifully solemn place that we have visited twice. As one walks through the cemetery it’s unnerving to see the ages of these soldiers. 18-30 mostly.
We stayed in 1998 at the Chateau Audrieu about 25 k south of Juno Beach. It’s a wonderful hotel now but in the summer of 1944 it was a German Army Headquarters. The enemy had captured a number of Canadians who were murdered while POWS by Lt. Kurt Meyer. 63 were murdered at the Chateau, most of them members of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. The plaque in in the village of Audrieu .
Further south is the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery where 2782 Canadian boys, who fought the battle for Caen, are lying. Son Jackson and I visited here
Further south past Falaise is the small village of St. Lambert Sur Dives close to the famous Coridor of Death where 250,000 German troops tried to escape from the Allies. 100,000 made it but 250,000 were killed or captured. They had tried to move their equipment, much of it pulled by horses through a narrow single lane road with high thick hedgerows on either side. Canadian and Polish artillery and tanks decimated them.
In St Lambert stands a monument to Major David Currie who led the Calgary Horse Regiment, a tank unit, in the battle. He was honoured by the French people of the area. Later he became Sergeant at Arms in the House of Commons for many years. It is quite a proud moment to come over a hill in France and see the large Canadian flag flying here.
Also in Normandy, of course, is the large American Cemetery above Omaha Beach which is the resting place of over 9000 American fallen. If you are in Normandy it is a must see place. Quite overwhelming.
If you have not visited Normandy you might want to add it to your Bucket List. The beaches, the cemetery’s, the museums are wonderful to see.
Before a visit to Normandy you might want to read