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 Rivière 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.
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,
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.
One of three, in Germany found, and secured Würzburg Riese radars in Douvres
Before and during the battle the Würzburg Riese radar was severly damaged and the crumbled
pieces were removed. The French found after the war three Würzburg in Germany, who were not
complete. Two of those were donated to the scientist Yves Rocard, a member of the resistance
during the war who helped the Allies when they landed in the South of France. A third Würzburg
went to an observation center near Bordeaux (where it still is). Rocard, who was posted at the
Sorbonne, put the radars in the Navy test center near Marcoussis (in the Essone, at Montlhéry).
He worked here in the astronomy but also on guided missile testing. During 1957 both Würzburg
radars were brought to Nançay (in the Loiret near Orléans) where a large astronomy complex was
built. The radars were placed upon rails so they could move with the rotation of the Earth.
In 1991 the observation center at Nançay accepted the request hat one of the two radars would
be donated to the Caen Memorial who were planning to restore the radar complex at Douvres-la-Délivrande.
The moveable arms that hold the parabolic antenna were gone, but these could be replaced by copies,
made from the original German drawings. The operation cabin was stripped, but there are now information
panels for the visitor to read.
After the storm in the spring of 2016
In the spring in 2016, during a storm, the large parabolic disk broke
out of the carrier arms. The plan was to restore it in a couple of weeks,
but in September 2016 the disk was laying still forlorn in the grass.
It seemed the insurance was holding things up. But every day in the
damp grass was not good for the disk. In May 2017 there was movement
in the restoration, but the disk was only put up right and leans against
the rest of the construction, just as it did in June 1944 after the battle
(see the picture below).
After the war,
visitors came looking at this strange
Würzburg Riese radar
Old times relived,… but will the Würzburg ever be rebuilt to its former glory?
(Picture: Marcel Slomp)
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
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.
liberated house of Bernières, Then and
When the next wave 10 minutes later arrived, Regiment de La
Chaudière, there were only German snipers active. The local
people of Bernières 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.
Canadian War Cemetery near Riviers/Bény-sur-Mer, here are
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.
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
pages brings you to the last section of JUNO Beach and to GOLD
Beach (and Arromanches with the Mulberry Harbour)