As part of the City of Toronto’s commemoration of the end of the Second World War, and to mark D-Day on June 6, 1944, we pause to remember again those who fought and honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans who were a part of this historic invasion share their stories.
Do you or your family have a story, memory or photo to share from this time – on the battlefront or on the homefront? We invite you to share your memories of times during the Second World War on social media and tag #TorontoRemembers.
We also invite to you watch the full remarks from veterans.
The City’s Golden Book of Remembrance pays tribute to those whose lives were sacrificed in the Second World War.
Marking the 75th year since the Normandy invasions by allied forces, a City of Toronto Flag was flown at the Juno Beach Centre in France on April 9, 2019 (Vimy Ridge Day). The flag was returned to the City and was hoisted at City Hall on the Podium Roof on June 6, 2020. This flag also flies on other commemorative occasions.
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.
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.
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 6, the Queen’s Own Rifles was 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. They were far away from their loved ones and waiting for news of the invasion and the liberation of European countries that was to come.
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.
Toronto Remembers D-Day
June 6, 2020
WHEREAS today we honour the 76th anniversary of D-Day, the veterans who fought and all Canadians who served overseas and at home during the Second World War.
D-Day represents the start of the Allied Forces’ campaign to liberate Western Europe from Nazi occupation. As part of the Allied Forces’ invasion, Canadian troops were assigned to invade Juno beach. On D-Day, 14,000 Canadian troops landed on Juno Beach and into the line of fire, as they sought to protect the eight kilometre stretch of the Normandy coastline. The Queen’s Own Rifles from Toronto had the highest casualties among the Canadian regiments, with 143 killed, wounded or captured.
We remember the contributions of the greatest combined military force in history, consisting of Canadian and allied forces.
We honour the legacy of D-Day by commemorating the sacrifice of those who brought peace and freedom to Europe and the world, as well as the courage and resilience of those who survived and those who contributed on the home front.
This year, more than ever, we are inspired by and honour the members of that generation who are still among us. We salute them and their bravery. We look to their example as we are asked to make sacrifices for the common good as we fight a global pandemic together.
The City of Toronto acknowledges the bravery, courage and sacrifices of all Canadian veterans who fought for the peace and freedom we enjoy today. We shall continue to honour those who have served and those who continue to serve, as we remain vigilant in our quest for peace around the world.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor John Tory, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim June 6, 2020 as “Toronto Remembers D-Day” in the City of Toronto.
As we are unable to gather this year, here are highlights from the City of Toronto’s 75th Anniversary commemoration of D-Day in 2019: