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Canadian History for Kids: D-Day

June 6 – World War II – The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division lands at Juno Beach, part of the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive looks at D-Day.

D-Day, began on June 6, 1944, and was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s Germans.

It was decided that on D-Day, the Allied Forces would land in Normandy in an effort to force the Germans out of France. The establishment of a foothold in Normandy was code named Operation Overlord. D-Day was originally scheduled for June 5, 1944 because there would be a full moon as well as a rising tide. The full moon would help the paratroopers see to land, and the rising tide would help the naval troops land farther from shore and any guns or obstacles placed there by the German. On June 5, 1944, the weather was so bad that it was decided D-Day could not go ahead on that day. The weather was not cooperating and finally it was decided that D-Day would go ahead on June 6, 1944.

On June 6, 1944, Allied troops of approximately 150,000 landed in Normandy either from 11,000 aircrafts (code named Operation Pointblank) or almost 7,000 naval vessels (code named Operation Neptune). The majority of the troops who landed in Normandy were British, Canadian and American.

The troops landed on beaches code named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Each beach was divided into sections and given letters, and then divided again into different colours. The different troops were then given a specific section and mission.

The airborne troops handled capturing bridges and crossroads, the paratroopers handled German counterattacks, and the naval troops took care of destroying beach guns and providing shelter for the ground troops by making craters.

The weather wasn’t helping. High winds, rough seas and high waves made it hard for both the airborne and naval troops.

Of the five beach landings, the worst was Omaha. The Americans found themselves in a race against death. Many of the landing vessels never made it close to shore and many of the men were killed before reaching the land.

Utah beach on the other hand had an easier time when a southerly current carried the troops to another sector and their landing went well. They were able to go inland quickly.

The British troops landed on Gold beach at a later time causing them to land in a higher tide and closer to land. This gave them a better assault run.

The Canadians at Juno found that many of the obstacles had not been cleared and were faced with a hard fight. The fight was also fast and before long they were inland as well.

The Sword beach, the easternmost landing, was the smallest of the Allied assaults. While the landing started well, it grew harder with each troop landing coming under heavier fire. It was also the only assault hit by a daylight air attack by the Germans.

Operation Neptune or D-day ended on June 30, 1944, with the Allied troops establishing a firm foothold in Normandy. By September 1945, the war would be over.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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