TOUR THE BATTLEFIELDS OF NORMANDY
THE BRITISH AND CANADIAN SECTOR

SECTOR 'JUNO' 6 JUNE, 1944, 07.45 HOURS

The Canadian 3rd Division (15.000 men) and 9.000 supporting British troops were to land at the sector 'JUNO'. The sector started at La Rivičre and run all the way to St-Aubin-sur-Mer. After a bombardment by the British and American airforce, eleven navy vessels opened fire on the coastline. The Germans put up a fierce fight but the Canadians managed to get hold of a large piece of ground, the biggest of all units that landed that day (almost 10 kilometres inland). Unfortunately it was not possible to make the connection with the 'SWORD' sector.

LUC-SUR-MER/PETIT ENFER

This is the border between JUNO and SWORD Beach. This was the 'hole' where in the evening of the 6th June a small unit of the 21st Panzer Divsion 'Hitler Jugend' took a defensive position. The Allied troops encircled that night the German unit and the next day it was put out of action with help of some reinforcements of the 46th RM (Royal Marines) Commando at 09.00 hours in the morning of the 7th.

As mentioned above, the Canadian troops encountered many times the 12th SS Panzer Division 'Hitler Jugend'. This unit was responsible for several warcrimes against the Canadian soldiers (they murdered at least 156 Canadian prisoners of war). This link brings you to the Abbaye d'Ardenne where 20 Canadian soldiers were executed.

DOUVRES RADAR STATION: 6 until 17 June, 1944

The Würzburg radar station from Douvres lies in the hole between SWORD and JUNO, inbetween the places Douvres-La-Deliverande and the west Basley and Bény-sur-Mer on de D 83 (Route de Bény). Here is a little museum and has a spectaculair object, an original Würzburg radar. The museum can be visited in July and August.

This place was defended by 200 men of the Luftwaffe. It was the object of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment to take this radar post. In the early morning of June 7th at 07.00 hours the attack started. The defence was fierce. At the end of the afternoon the North Shore were retrieved and the 5th Battalion Black Watch (51st Highland Division) was given the order to attack but they were also thrown back. General Dempsey, commander of the 2nd British Army gave the order to try to put out the radar post with all the power that was available. The Germans could see all the movements the British army were making and report this to the German Army. The 51st Highland Division were again in action the next day, this time with the 80th Assault Squadron RE, again without success.

(Picture through Rossella Re, possibly my biggest fan in Italy)

On June 11 the 48th RM Commando tried to take the radar post. But the attack went no where and was cancelled. The final attack came on 17 June with the help of the 22nd Dragoon, 41st RM Commando and the 26th Assault Squadron RE. With the assistance of four mine sweeping tanks and twelve AVRE's to shoot mortars into the bunkers the complex was finally taken. With eight tanks lost and 'only' twelve casualties on British side, eleven days of struggle came at last to an end.

After the war some locals visit the destroyed Würzburg radar

In the spring of 2016, during a heavy storm, the disk from the Würzburg radar broke loos and dropped onto the grass. The plan was to restore it within weeks, but in the fall of 2016 it was still not done. The insurance has still to make a decision. Every day the disk is left in the wet grass, it will deteriorate fast.

Old days relived,... (after the storm in the sping of 2016)

ST. AUBIN-SUR-MER

After the visit to the radarpost, head for the coast, to St.-Aubin-sur-Mer. Make a stop near the small casemat where you still can find the 5cm Kwk gun installed. On the eastside of the casemat you still can see the damaged done by a Petard mortar shot from an AVRE tank.

St-Aubin-sur-Mer, Then & Now

BERNIČRES, 08.15 HOURS

This point was the object for the Queens Own Rifles of Canada of the 8th Canadian Brigade Group. This was the place were the most Canadian casualties fell. From their concrete bunkers the Germans had a free shooting range. The landing was here at 08.15 hours without any tank support and just 200 meters east of a 'Widerstandnester'. The first wave Canadians lost half of their men. Thanks to a gunboat, that almost beached itself, the Germans were silenced.

The first liberated house of Berničres, Then and Now

When the next wave 10 minutes later arrived, Regiment de La Chaudičre, there were only German snipers active. The local people of Berničres were surprised that the 'Tommy's' were speaking French! It was a French speaking Canadian regiment. One stubborn bunker was attacked by a bulldozer from 'behind' and just filled up with sand. Near 'the first liberated house' stands a monument as a remembrance to the first landing here by the Canadians. Further to the east, at 250 meters, is a bunker with more (eroded) memorial plaques.

The Canadian War Cemetery near Riviers/Bény-sur-Mer, here are 2.044 graves

COURSEULLES-SUR-MER, 08.00 HOURS

These were the landing beaches of the 7th Canadian Brigade Group at 08.00 hours. Despite the resistence the landings were going very well. An important factor here was the unloading of the DD tanks, just 800 meters from shore. In 1970 the DD Sherman tank , now a memorial at Courseulles, was salvaged from the coastel waters.

In Courseulles-sur-Mer is the Centre Juno Beach located (see picture below). To reach this centre, go over the large bridge at the harbour. Continue on the D 514. After a long bend to the left, take the first right (250 yards after the bridge). Pass the small bridge and go right. Centre Juno Beach is a modern museum. Do not expect large displays of puppets in uniforms, weapons or vehicles. It is a center of education were the landing by the Canadians in this area finds an important place, but it also is a center of culture and how the Canadians developed their country.

When you leave the Centre Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, do not cross the bridge again on your left, but continue on the road through the dunes. After the crossing, park your car after 50 yards near the beach exit.

GRAY-SUR-MER

Walk into the beach exit. Halfway you come across a big casemat which is tilted into the sand.
This is the so called ‘Cosy’s Pillbox’, named after Sergeant Cosy who was killed during the fighting for this strongpoint. A text on a board reads: ‘Cosy and 15 men from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles were given the task to neutralize this casemat. With machineguns and grenades the casemat was taken, but Cosy was deadly wounded in the lungs. Some 150 Engineers reinforced the attacking group and placed explosives. The explosion tilted the casemat and the Germans surrendered'. But is this realy what happened?

'Cosy's Pillbox', the tilded H 612 casemat

I have some doubts with the story above. I located a picture of this casemat, an H 612 with a 7,5cm gun, taken after the battle. On top are six men, probably from the navy. In the back a anti-aircraft balloon is visible. When closely examining the picture you may notice the similarities between that picture and the pictures taken today. If you look at the blocks on the right protective concrete slab, yoy see the similarities. But, what is most obvious, the casemat is not tilted, yet. This is probably caused by erosion of the dunes over the years.

'Cosy's Pillbox', Then and Now

Continue the road throug the dunes westwards. After a hundred yards passed the big Lorraine Cross, stop near the AVRE-Churchill tank.

This is the last stretch of JUNO Beach. In this sector were 128 casualties on the Canadian side. Behind the DD Tanks that landed here came the AVRE tanks (See 'Hobart' page) at 07.55 hours. The mine sweeping tanks and bridge layers were hard at work around the German strong points, you can still find the damaged bunkers over here. At this 'Exit' was an anti-tank pit dug and filled up with water. When an AVRE tank tried to put in load of wood, the edge of the pit gave way and the tank sank into it. The tank filled up with water and the crew almost drowned. They clambered out and took shelter behind a dune against the German fire. An mortar dropped between the men and four were killed. The two wounded were brought to England that afternoon. The tank had completely disappeared in the pit. The hole was later filled with debris and wood so tanks could run over her and leave the beach. The tank stayed there until 1976 when they salvaged her. Now it stands as a monument at the beach exit.

AVRE-Churchill MK VIII (Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers) near Gray-sur-Mer

For the next part of the tour, you may CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW. These pages brings you to the last section of JUNO Beach and to GOLD Beach (and Arromanches with the Mulberry Harbour)