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It’s the Invasion!  It’s D-Day!  At Last!

Tu Thanh Ha
Globe And Mail, June 5, 2024

In the morning, he could see bodies around him. He wanted to numb his pain with morphine but, with only one uninjured hand, he tried to open the syrette with his teeth and spilled its content.”

Eighteen Halifax heavy bombers left their base in Yorkshire about two hours after midnight, on their way to hit a German coastal gun battery in Normandy. No. 433 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force, had struck targets in Nazi-occupied France before. But this time, as they reached the English Channel, they realized they were on a very different mission.

Aboard aircraft serial LV-839, Flying Officer Edwin Widenoja noticed that dots had started to fill up his radar screen. He looked down through the plane’s nose window and saw what had been pinging his surface-mapping device. “There was a tremendous mass of ships all spaced out in rows to the horizon. We were flying at 15,000 feet and the view below was thrilling. We knew now that we were taking part in one of the biggest moments in history,” he remembered.

He called over the intercom to the rest of the crew: “It’s the invasion! It’s D-Day! At last!”

It was the early hours of June 6, 1944. By the end of the day, 150,000 Allied soldiers, including 15,000 Canadians, would set foot in Normandy, opening a new front in the war against Nazi Germany.

Today, on the 80th anniversary of the landing, few of the Canadians who took part in that turning point of the Second World War are still among us. But there is a place where their recollections can be found, in dozens of stories – heroic, poignant or comical – that were written down just a few years after the event. … [To read the full article, click here]

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