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Juno Beach

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: The Regiment had gone ashore, moved inland behind the Winnipeg Regiment on the 6th of June, 1944. The position of the bridgehead at that time seemed secure. What do you remember about that first night, that you spent in France? I wouldn't say it seemed secure... again, looking back on it, I imagine that, the a... higher command were maybe more apprehensive, then the lower command, because we were more occupied with the on sight situation of digging in of wondering what, what's coming and so on. But, again I don't, I am not aware. I may be wrong in this. I'm not aware of any feeling that anything was going to happen except we were gonna win. I, I'm not aware of any feeling, there were times when our heavy counter attack would come in, it's up on the (inaudible) Line and, and many other ones. Where the pressure was terrific, but um, I don't think that there was a sense of pessimism it was always... my experience anyway a feeling of optimism. Interviewer: What do you recall on the second day that you were in France? Well, the second day we moved up. We, closer up on the, we were up on the Bay of Caen railway line and I have incidently, downstairs, cleaned up and framed, the map I was carrying and fighting over that day and the area where we were in the Bay of Caen railway line. Gerry put in a, a pretty heavy counter attack and as a matter of fact, I, I have a letter from a chap who was in the artillery, was in that position and when I became Dominion Secretary of the Legion, I believe he wrote me a letter and described the battle and he was there and remembered me from that day and it was a, it was a pretty heavy because the British as I recall hadn't managed to get up on the right to the Caen or Bay of Caen railway line. We were up and the British hadn't managed because of heavier resistence, they hadn't managed to get up that far. So our right flank was open and that made us vulnerable there and the, and the Germans put in a counter attack, which came in, and the Brigadier had given orders that, that, we were not to withdraw, as I recall, from the Bay of Caen railway line. And the Winnipegs took quite a, quite a pasting there and then the, I believe the Caen Scotts put in a counter attack and pushed the enemy back, but it was a heavy. It was a heavy engagement there, a lot of casualties, and I can still see the, the Bay of Caen railway lines, still see some of the Germans coming down over the railway embankment and coming up on the side. It was a, it was a close, it was a very close action, really. Again one can't, having seen that, one cannot have anything but respect for the soldier who does the job because they, they just stood to it and did their job and did it well.

Mr. Thompson remembers the first and second days in France after going ashore at Juno Beach.

Donald Thompson

Mr. Thompson was born in West Saint John, New Brunswick on August 19, 1922. He was the middle child in a family of three boys. His father worked as a railway engineer and fireman with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Mr. Thompson was first introduced to military training at an early age becoming involved with the militia when he was roughly 12 years old. He received his Royal Canadian Rifles certificate as a qualified infantry machine gun sergeant in 1939 at the age of 17. He was chosen to go overseas with a company from the Saint John Fusiliers as reinforcements. He travelled overseas on a pleasure boat that was in the midst of being converted to a troop ship and arrived in Liverpool, England. From Liverpool he travelled by train to Aldershot and then on to Crookham Crossroads. There he joined the Cameron Highlanders and trained to support an infantry battalion. In 1943 - 44, while only 21 years old, he achieved the rank of captain and was in Inverary training for combined ops amphibious landings. They trained, in preparation for D-Day, in a camp that was surrounded by barb wire and no one was allowed leave. On June 6th 1944 he landed on Juno Beach as part of the second wave behind the Winnipeg Rifles. On the third day of fighting after landing on Juno Beach he was hit by shrapnel and subsequently sent back to England on a hospital ship. Although he tried to return to action his wounds proved to be too much and he was sent back to England a second time and then eventually back to Canada. After the war Mr. Thompson worked with the Canadian Legion (later to be the Royal Canadian Legion) in Saint John. He moved up the ranks with the Legion and ended up in Ottawa as the Dominion Secretary. In 1970 he was appointed Chairman of the War Veterans Allowance Board and held this position until he retired in 1987. Mr. Thompson was also named Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Cameron Highlanders.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald Thompson
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Captain, Platoon Commander

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