Rememberin­g Glen­garry and D-Day

The Glengarry News - - Classified­s - News News Cana­dian Press. The News, The The

BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL

Staff Seventy-five years ago to­mor­row – June 6, 1944 – young men from the banks, farms, shops and wood­lots of Glen­garry took part in the largest seaborne in­va­sion in mil­i­tary his­tory –- Op­er­a­tion Over­lord, bet­ter known as D-Day.

How­ever, be­fore nightly tele­vi­sion news or con­stantly up­dated In­ter­net/so­cial me­dia cov­er­age, and dur­ing a pe­riod of wartime censorship re­stric­tions placed upon all types of pri­vate and pub­lic cor­re­spon­dence, de­tails of the Nor­mandy beach land­ings and the sub­se­quent cam­paign in­land were slow to make their way across the At­lantic.

In fact, it wasn’t un­til three days after the launch of the great­est mil­i­tary in­va­sion the world had ever seen that area res­i­dents fi­nally learned that lo­cal boys were in the thick of the fight­ing.

“Glen­garry men among in­va­sion troops,” de­clared the head­line across the front page of

on Fri­day, June 9, al­though the story ac­knowl­edged that in­for­ma­tion was not yet of­fi­cial.

And it would be three more weeks (the June 30 is­sue) be­fore the pres­ence and con­tri­bu­tion of the lo­cal boys in “the great in­va­sion” was of­fi­cially con­firmed by cor­re­spon­dent Ross Munro of

In a re­port picked up by Mr. Munro wrote of how the “SD&G High­landers pushed back Ger­man ar­mour and in­fantry” and “won a great name for the reg­i­ment in re­puls­ing the strong Ger­man drives at Les Buis­sons (a vil­lage taken from the Ger­mans on the morn­ing of June 7).”

Early the pre­vi­ous morn­ing, more than 150,000 troops, pre­dom­i­nantly from the Bri­tish, Cana­dian and U.S. armed forces, had de­parted Eng­land be­fore land­ing sev­eral hours later on five beaches in the French prov­ince of Nor­mandy, ini­tial­iz­ing the Al­lied in­va­sion of Nazi-oc­cu­pied Europe which cul­mi­nated in Ger­many’s de­feat less than a year later.

The mas­sive ar­mada was trans­ported by nearly 7,000 ships of all types, aug­mented by aerial sup­port and trans­port from more than 12,000 air­craft.

Al­most 22,000 Cana­dian ser­vice­men took part in the D-Day land­ing, with the 3rd Cana­dian Divi­sion, along with the 2nd Cana­dian Ar­mored Bri­gade, go­ing ashore at Juno Beach be­tween 7:30 a.m. and noon.

Ap­prox­i­mately 360 Cana­dian troops were killed and 574 wounded on D-Day – a fig­ure that was ac­tu­ally less than half of what the op­er­a­tion’s plan­ners had ex­pected.

Al­though there are no “of­fi­cial” ca­su­alty statis­tics avail­able, the to­tal num­ber of Al­lied sol­diers killed, wounded, miss­ing in ac­tion or taken pris­oner on D-Day has gen­er­ally been es­ti­mated at around 10,000 – in­clud­ing over 4,400 dead.

His­to­ri­ans have no fig­ures for to­tal Ger­man D-Day ca­su­al­ties ei­ther, al­though it’s es­ti­mated that be­tween 4,000 and 9,000 en­emy sol­diers lost their lives on June 6.

Dur­ing the en­su­ing two-and-ahalf-months-long post-D-Day Nor­mandy cam­paign, over 425,000 Al­lied and Ger­man troops were killed, wounded or went miss­ing in ac­tion. Over those 10 weeks in the late spring and summer of 1944, lo­cal res­i­dents con­tin­ued to learn about the brav­ery, ex­per­tise and fe­roc­ity of the boys from Alexan­dria, Ap­ple Hill, Lan­caster, Mart­in­town, Maxville, Wil­liamstown and through­out the re­main­ing ex­panses of Glen­garry as they en­dured some of the most in­tense fight­ing of the war.

Among the sto­ries reach­ing the home front were those of 24-yearold Pte. John Kennedy of Alexan­dria – wounded dur­ing the ill-fated Dieppe Raid of 1942, and again shortly after the Nor­mandy in­va­sion, only to be killed in ac­tion in Septem­ber 1944; and Pte. James (Jimmy) A. McDon­ald, an­other Alexan­drian who lost both hands and his left leg dur­ing the bat­tle for Caen, and con­se­quently spent the rest of the war at Christie Street Veter­ans Hospi­tal in Toronto.

Pte. Gor­don Lapierre of Lan­caster, killed in France on July 15, 1944 – his 19th birth­day – pro­vided one of the more poignant sto­ries of this pe­riod.

It’s un­clear to­day how many sur­viv­ing D-Day veter­ans there are.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Veter­ans Af­fairs Canada, an es­ti­mated 41,100 World War II veter­ans of this coun­try’s armed forces, with an av­er­age age of 93, were alive as of March 2018 – ap­prox­i­mately 4 per cent of the 1.1 mil­lion Cana­di­ans in uni­form be­tween 1939 and 1945.

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