D-Day – June 6
Toronto remembers the courage of those who fought in the Allied Forces’ invasion of Normandy, France in 1944.
What is D-Day?
D-Day was part of Operation Overlord, the plan for the liberation of Europe. It was the final push by the Allied Forces to win back control of Europe during the Second World War. The D-Day invasions were the start of the year-long Battle of Normandy. It would end with the German surrender on V-E (Victory in Europe) Day, May 8, 1945. The operation was the largest seaborne invasion in history. Canada’s goal was to secure an eight-kilometre-long stretch of French beach and move towards an inland airfield.
The D simply stands for “day.” The designation was traditionally used for the date of any important military operation or invasion. The day before June 6, 1944, was known as D-1 and the days after were D+1, D+2, D+ and so on. As the date of the invasion could only take place in certain weather conditions, planning was based on a day without a date.
June 6, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the year-long Battle of Normandy.
On this 75th anniversary of the Operation, join members of Toronto City Council in honouring those who gave their lives in the battle and those who have since gone, along with those veterans of this conflict who are still among us.
The ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy will take place on the following day and time:
75th D-Day Ceremony Program:
- Last Post
- Two Minutes of Silence
- The Act of Remembrance
- D-Day Address: Mayor John Tory
- Keynote Speaker: Captain Martin Maxwell, Glider Pilot Regiment, British 6th Airbourne Division
- Remarks: Mr. Marc Trouyet, Consul General of France in Toronto
- Wreath Laying
- Parade marches off
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, allied forces departed the southern coast of England in total silence and under the cover of darkness. As dawn broke over the coast of Normandy, France, the immensity of the allied armada was revealed to the German occupying forces and the liberation of Europe was underway.
The battle that ensued on that fateful day marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Approximately 14,000 Canadian soldiers fought on the beaches of Normandy. Their mission was to invade and secure a stretch of the Normandy coastline code-named Juno Beach, one of five beachheads, which were the objectives.
The city of Toronto was not immune to the events transpiring on a different continent thousands of kilometers away. Among the soldiers fighting on D-Day were many brave Torontonians. The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, based in Toronto, had the highest casualties amongst the regiments in the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. On June 6th, the Queen’s Own Rifles were the only Canadian regiment to achieve its objective: the village of Ainsy.
On the “home front”, thousands of men and women worked to support troops fighting on foreign soil, far away from their loved ones while waiting for news of the invasion and the liberation of European countries that was to come.
Marking the 75th year since the Normandy invasions by allied forces, the City sent a city of Toronto Flag to the Juno Beach Centre in France. With the kind permission of the Centre, the flag flew on Juno Beach on April 9, 2019 (Vimy Ridge Day) and was subsequently returned to City Hall.
The Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s Second World War museum and cultural centre located in Normandy. The Centre pays tribute to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the War. There were 5,500 Canadians killed during the Battle of Normandy and 359 Canadians were killed on D-Day.
The flag will fly on the Podium Roof courtesy flagpole on Nathan Phillips Square on June 6, 2019 as the City of Toronto commemorates D-Day with veterans, diplomatic representatives, the City’s Honour Guards and many others who will gather at the Old City Hall Cenotaph.
The flag will fly each year only on June 6th at Toronto City Hall.
Journey Across Canada – Toronto Ceremony
The City of Toronto was honoured to partner with Veteran Affairs Canada in hosting the Journey across Canada –Toronto ceremony on May 15, 2019 at Union Station.
The Journey across Canada presents combat boots of veterans as a symbol of the many Canadians who served during the D-Day landings and in the Battle of Normandy. As they stop across the country, ceremonies will commemorate the Canadians who fought and sacrificed to defend peace and freedom during the Second World War.
A pair of combat boots from this initiative will be displayed in the Rotunda of Toronto City Hall along with historical photographs on June 6, 2019.
Legion of Honour Investiture
William George (“George”) Carpenter is a Canadian Artillery veteran of the Second World War, and currently a resident of Kipling Acres, one of 10 long-term care homes operated by the City of Toronto.
On May 9, 2019, George was formally invested as a Knight in the French National Order of the Legion of Honour during a ceremony in Kipling Acres.
The French National Order of the Legion of Honour was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte. Since 2014, the Government of France has been awarding its highest medal, the Legion of Honour, to veterans who participated in the liberation of France from June 6 to August 30, 1944.
The City of Toronto D-Day commemorations have always featured a Canadian veteran. We were honoured to have had the following veterans join us for the City’s D-Day ceremonies:
2019: Martin Maxwell
Martin Maxwell, Captain, Glider Pilot Regiment, British 6th Airborne Division, enlisted in the British Army in 1942. He was among the first few to land in Normandy the night before D-Day. You can also listen to Capt. Maxwell at The Memory Project.
2018: Charles Scot-Brown
A seventh-generation soldier, Charles Scot-Brown was 17 years old when he enlisted in the Canadian army, and in 1943 he took his commission when he turned 19. He volunteered with the British army, and was assigned to the Golden Highlanders.
2017: Edward Stafford
Trooper Edward Stafford was born on January 31, 1921 in Toronto. He joined the Governor General Horse Guards on June 30, 1941. He served primarily in the United Kingdom and in Italy, driving a Daimler Dingo – an armoured reconnaissance vehicle.
2016: Richard Rohmer
Honorary Lieutenant-General Richard Rohmer – Royal Canadian Air Force – began his military career in 1936 serving with the ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) at Eagle Rock High School in Pasadena, California. Arguably Canada’s most decorated citizen, he served with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a fighter-reconnaissance pilot during 1942-1945.
2015: Jim J. Parks
Jim J. Parks (Joseph James) joined the Army Cadets at the age of 10 in 1934. At 15 years of age, he joined NPAM (Reserves) Winnipeg Rifles, in 1940 joined Active Force Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, and in May 1941 transferred to Royal Winnipeg Rifles.
2014: Alex Adair
Alex Adair served with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, which received the worst battering of any Canadian unit on D-Day. The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum has posted a video of Mr. Adair discussing Juno Beach, which was one of five beaches that was part of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, during the Second World War.
2013: Weldon Clark
Weldon “Clarkie” Clark was a decorated veteran who served with the Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment (2nd Armoured Brigade). He landed on D-Day as a tank Gunner serving in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
2012: John Hadley
Trooper John Hadley joined the army on June 6, 1940 with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. In July 1941, he sailed off to England. About a week before D-Day, his regiment moved to camps near South Hampton, moving from camp to camp.
2011: Jack Martin
Jack Martin was born in Toronto. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Canadian Army and was assigned to The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. He was part of the initial landing at “Nam White” near Bernières-sur-Mer at 8:05 on morning of June 6th, 1944.
2010: Edward James (Ted) O’Halloran
Warrant Officer Edward James (Ted) O’Halloran was a stretcher bearer (medic) with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada during the Second World War. He became a paramedic with the Toronto Emergency Medical Services until he retired at age 70.
2009: Martin Maxwell
Martin Maxwell, Captain, Glider Pilot Regiment, British 6th Airborne Division, enlisted in the British Army in 1942, and was among the first few to land in Normandy the night before D-Day.
2008: Jan de Vries
Jan de Vries enlisted in 1943 and served with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and later parachuted over the Rhine River into Germany on March 24, 1945.
Visit the Toronto Archives D-Day Web Exhibit for a collection of photos captured by Lieutenant Gilbert Milne, a photographer with the Royal Canadian Navy.