Juno Beach – Courseulles-sur-Mer
Juno Beach was the second easternmost landing beach; it indeed stretched on 10km, on both side of Courseulles-sur-Mer.
This assault sector was assigned to units of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division aided by specialized engineering tanks of the 79th Armored Div.
The Germans occupied the small fishing villages of Bernières-sur-mer, Saint-Aubin-sur-mer and Langrune-sur-mer, to the east of Courseulles.
They had installed their firing positions in the houses that overlooked the shore.
They also had fortified casemates and machine-gun positions in the small villages and hamlets situated in the dunes.
The disastrous weather conditions had altered the visibility.
As a result the German coastal defences had been hardly touched by the preliminary bombardments.
Juno Beach – The objective
The landing on Juno Beach was scheduled for 7.30 am, between Corseulles-sur-mer and Saint-Aubin and Langrune-sur-mer to the east.
It was divided in two sub sectors code named Mike by Corseulles and Graye-sur-mer (western side) and Nan between Corseulles and Saint-Aubin to the east.
The third sub sector Love to the west of Corseulles, was not a landing sector; it was indeed reserved for off-loading equipment.
The assault on Juno Beach was assigned to several units of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division commanded by Major-General Rodney Keller.
The amphibious tanks of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade and the specialized engineering tanks from the 79th Armoured Division backed them.
The Canadians were also supported by British commandos, specialized armour and assault engineers.
This resulted in a landing force with a ratio of two Canadians soldiers for one British.
Mike – Corseulles was assigned to the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade.
The assault was assigned to the Regina Rifles and Canadian Scottish Regiment from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles supported by the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment 1st Hussars.
Nan – east of Corseulles towards Saint-Aubin-Langrune was assigned to the the 8th Infantry Brigade with the support of the 10th Canadian Armoured regiment (Fort Garry Horse‘s tanks) and the British No48 Royal Marine Commando who was planned to land with the Canadians.
The Commandos’ objective was to move towards the Orne estuary in order to destroy a battery.
The assault in Bernières was assigned to the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
The assault in Saint-Aubin was assigned to the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment.
The French Canadians of La Chaudière Regiment were to be kept afloat in reserve along with various units of infantry and armour of the 9th Brigade.
They were to land once Nan was secured and would immediately move inland in order to link up with Sword beach.
Both groups would be supported by the Fort Garry Horse tanks and Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers.
The Royal Canadian Navy was to assist the landing operation from offshore.
Once Juno Beach captured, the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division were to help the Royal Marine establish contact with the British troops landed on Sword and Gold.
They then were to move together inland in order to seize the road Bayeux-Caen, Carpiquet airfield then Caen.
Landing on Juno Beach
The stormy sea and the discovery of unexpected offshore shoals meant that the rising tide would not be high enough.
This would impair the manoeuvrings of the landing crafts through the beach obstacles.
The assault was therefore delayed by 10 to 30mn (between the first assault wave and the last).
Tragically, the effect of a surprise landing was lost, and gave the Germans time to prepare for the assault.
Few landing crafts struck mines during their approach while carrying the troops.
However, many tragically did, as they withdrew and were either destroyed or severely damaged.
The weather conditions and shoals also hindered the progress of the 6th Canadian Armoured 1st Hussards, which were launched 1400m off the shore.
They indeed landed at 7.55am and were therefore unable to support the assault troops in the first ten minutes of their landing.
The delay meant that the first wave of assault had to engage in direct assault under fierce German fire until the armoured squadrons could land and assist them.
This sadly resulted in exceptionally high number of casualties in first the minutes of the assault.
The arrival of the armour, nevertheless, transformed the dynamics of the assault and the Canadian troops eventually captured the beach.
Juno Beach – Bernières
Bernières was one of the strongest points of the German defence.
This landing sector was assigned to the Queen’s Own Rifles Regiment.
The Queen’s Own Rifles landed 180m farther east of their intending landing zone and tragically just in front of the Cassine Battery where they found themselves under direct fire.
They had no choice, but to engage in an unprotected assault, as weather conditions had hindered the launch of the amphibious tanks.
These had landed too far and couldn’t provide them with immediate support.
This sadly resulted once more in a huge number of casualties.
At 8.30am the French Canadians of the reserve Régiment de la Chaudière and the reserve companies of the North Shore and Queen’s Own Rifles landed.
They re-enforced the exhausted and decimated assault troops.
A Royal Navy ship managed to come as close as possible to the shore.
It assisted in neutralising the bunkers, and therefore allowed the Canadians to move into Bernières and attack the enemy positions.
The fight ended in a fierce hand to hand fight and Bernières was eventually captured.
The first pigeons took off from the village in order to deliver messages in Fleet Street, the newspapers district in London!
Juno beach – The Outcome
By noon, most of the Canadian troops had landed on Juno Beach.
Some units had even progressed several kilometres inland among the dunes in order to capture the bridges over the Seulles River.
By 6pm, they had captured Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer and linked up with the British troops who had landed on Gold.
A squadron of 1st Hussards tanks had taken control of the Bayeux-Caen road.
It was actually the only unit that had fully reached its D-Day target!
By the evening of June 7, the Canadians linked up with the British who had landed on Sword.
The Canadian 3rd Infantry Division’s landing had been successful.
However, the price paid was huge, as 1,220 out of the 21,400 men who landed on Juno Beach on D-Day had been killed.
The Queen’s Own Rifles indeed suffered the worst casualties among the Canadian forces.
Gold Beach: Arromanches – Ver-sur-mer
Sword Beach: Ouistreham-Riva Bella
Rediscover all the landing beaches during the 75th Anniversary Commemorations
Department of Calvados
Coordinates: Juno Beach Bernières: Lat 49.335313 – Long -0.422743