Saturday, February 5, 2011

WWII

The Juno Beach Centre wasn’t built at the same time as the Great Britain and United States memorials. On the 60th anniversary of D-Day the Veterans came back to remember their brave comrades. The Canadian Vets were disappointed by the lack of acknowledgement of Canadian support in the war. One of them took a sum of their own money, and started fundraising to build a Canadian War Memorial. So the building is newer than the other memorials.

Inside the Juno Beach Centre, they started out with a 300° movie from the perspective of one of the soldiers. The room it was in was shaped like one of the boats. The movie was what they might've seen or heard, and was also what they might've been thinking; pictures of home, the war, and much more. It was well presented, but I don't think I would be convinced that I was a soldier in the war even if I was one. The feelings it did give me, were more of sympathy for what they've been through. When we exited the vessel, we came into a room with information on Canada at the time of the war. There were around ~ 5000 people in the Canadian military at the time. By the end of the war, there were 1 million! At the time, there were only 11 million people in Canada; with 2 million fit to fight, that's half of all the eligible people! Did I mention that it was voluntary?

Anyway, the prime minister at the time was Mackenzie King. Mackenzie King strongly believed that Canada should be its own country and be run by its own rules. Working towards Canada's independence, he didn’t ask for approval from the UK when signing a Salmon treaty on fishing rights between the US and Canada. Then when Great Britain declared war on Germany, he delayed a week before also declaring war on Germany, even though Canadian citizens were eager to help there relatives; just to prove his point to the world.

Attacking Dieppe was a test, to see what the world was up against. The war smart people sent some Canadian soldiers to fight the Germans at Dieppe, because they were eager to jump into the war. With no prep, no planning, no backup, and little knowledge of our enemy, when the soldiers reach Dieppe, Canadian soldiers were slaughtered. Very very few men survived the attack at Dieppe. Even though the 'surprise' attack was a complete disaster, it was represented as a lesson: of what not to do.

The people who attacked the beach weren’t alone. There were the Battleships with their long range guns attacking up to 12 miles away, attacking the land equal which also shoots long distance, there were the bombers bombing the Germans to ease up the deadliness, and there were paratroopers who were greatly risking their lives trying to come from the direction the guns weren't pointing at; the Germans had flooded some fields in order to try to drown some of the paratroopers, which some of them did drown. (Try swimming with heavy boots, a metal hat, a lot of gear, a parachute, and a big heavy gun in the middle of the night. Actually don’t; you'd drown.)

On D-Day, code-named Operation Overlord or just Overlord, Thousands of boats of soldiers gathered at the meeting point nicknamed Piccadilly Circus, and prepared for the attack. Imagine; you're a German soldier, you've been assured that you shouldn't have much work; you're in a highly defended area. You're in the middle of a card game, when someone comes in the room, sheet white, and says you should have a look outside. You go up and look out towards the water. You look at the horizon. You look at the horizon and see hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, of black dots. You, are scared silly. You can hear the crack of battleship's heavy guns as they shoot something they cant see, you hear the buzz of bombing planes, you hear the subtle low hum… of an entire army.

Now imagine that you're on a \__/ shaped boat, with countless numbers of others around you, your hearing all the war noises I just described, you don't know what's going on, or what you have to do. You know you have to be near land, because the battleships are shooting. You, are very nervous; not to mention, scared silly.


Being on Juno Beach was moving. Everything you saw seemed to be a relic, a memory, or some sort of way to freedom. I tried to hold back tears as dad ran up the beach. It took very long; too long to be missed by 1200 bullets. Hughh, can you feel the emotion stirring in your upper chest? Man, Juno Beach was an emotional place. Almost every decision I made, I changed my mind 2 or 3 times, sometimes not even succeeding in changing it.

2 comments:

maryanncart said...

Oh, Oh dear Rhys, the tears are streaming from my eyes reading your blog...I totally agree with you...the men (and some women) that gave their lives to defend Canada without any feeling of protecting themselves..but they wanted to defend their country.. and you and your family were at this spot...wow...not many families have this opportunity...Did you know that P.E.O., which is an organization I belong to...during WWII, provided an ambulance for the war? These were women that didn't even have the right to VOTE atthat time ! But they believed in what was right. Love Grandma Mac

Mynnette said...

This is all new to me, a place I did not know existed and am so glad to have read about. Jim and I remember the name Juno Beach from the war, but did not know about the Canadian commitment. You write so well. I read your Gma Mac's note and did not know about the ambulance donated by Canadian PEOs. So much to learn...Hugs- Mynnette