"Canada House" at the right in the Canadian sector of the landings is believed to be the first building liberated by the Allies. Veterans Affairs Canada has cancelled a visit by 40 elderly WWII veterans citing traffic congestion and concerns over their health. (Google)

Sorry, Canadian veterans won’t be at D-Day 75 event at Bernieres

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(updated May 30th)

The 75th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy to free Europe from the Nazis will be a huge event, but apparently not quite as huge as the occasion would normally suggest, at least not at the international ceremony in the evening of June 6.

For the first time, and on this major anniversary date, the international commemoration ceremony will be held at Juno beach. This is the eight kilometre stretch of the Normandy coast where some 14,000 Canadian soldiers landed as part of the Allied invasion force. And where Canadians are believed to have liberated the first building of the invasion, a large building now known as “Canada House” which overlooks the beach at at Bernieres-sur-mer. The stately building prior to the war was two semi-detached summer homes, a typical style of the time along the Norman coast.

Map of Normandy coast showing Canadian landing area known as Juno beach, (From the village of Vaux to St Aubin and including the towns of Courseulles and Bernieres

But also for the first time, the President of France will not attend the international event to be held at Courseulles-sur-mer which is a short distance away.  According to French press reports, President Macron will instead spend the day at events elsewhere including those with American President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Teresa May.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in France for a variety of events, but his itinerary has not been released as of yet.

 Disappointment at Bernieres

However, the attendance by some 40 elderly Canadian veterans who had been scheduled to attend an event at Bernieres-sur mer and Canada House, has been cancelled by Veterans Affairs Canada.

In a statement emailed to RCI, Veterans Affairs wrote, “The Government of Canada considered sending its delegation to the first light ceremony organized by Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada at Canada House on June 6th. The health and well-being of our Veteran delegates is a top priority and, regrettably, given the already demanding June 6th itinerary, attendance is not possible. Veterans will have an opportunity to visit Canada House on June 8th, 2019”.

Most of the veterans are in their early to mid 90’s and they and family members, will however be occupied with several other visits, ceremonies, and events in and around Normandy on the June 6th anniversary date and throughout the week.

Photo from a Canadian film showing Canadian soldiers running toward the beach from the landing craft

As for the Bernieres event, the local mayor was quoted in a French newspaper about the cancellation there saying ,”This is unbelievable and shameful! Our Canadian friends really wanted to come to Bernieres to pay homage to their comrades, and now they’re not going to let them, We had met with Canadian delegations to prepare the visit, now we look like fools. Bernieres, the bridgehead in 1944, was honoured to receive them” (C’est ahurissant et honteux ! Nos amis canadiens tiennent vraiment à venir à Bernières pour rendre hommage à leurs camarades et là on va les en empêcher. On avait reçu des délégations canadiennes pour préparer tout cela. On passe vraiment pour des guignols ! Bernières, tête de pont en 1944, était honorée de les recevoir.) 

German prisoners captured at Bernieres, with “Canada House” in the background (Ken Bell- LAC PA132474)

According to French government sources cited in the French press, some 8,000 people attended the 70th anniversary international commemoration in 2014 and about the same number at the separate France-U.S ceremony.  This year about 3,000 are expected for the international ceremony at Juno beach, and about 10,000-12,000 at the Franco -American event with the French and American Presidents.

Additional information-sources

(Note: the story has been updated on May 30 to indicate that the elderly vets and families will be attending many other official and non-official events during the week)

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48 comments on “Sorry, Canadian veterans won’t be at D-Day 75 event at Bernieres
  1. Avatar Michael O'Halloran says:

    We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia. The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane.

    I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when she asked me if there was anything I could do. ‘I’m on it’, I said. I told her that I would get back to her.

    Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had on board with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

    Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family.

    I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the text:

  2. Avatar Michael O'Halloran says:

    Prayer Request: When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our troops around the world… There is nothing attached. Just send this to people in your address book. Do not let it stop with you. Of all the gifts you could give a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and others deployed in harm’s way, prayer is the very best one.

    GOD BLESS YOU!!!

    Thank you all who have served, or are serving. We will not forget!!

    Sorry for the break up it was to long on one shot but please read it .
    After you’ll still wonder why our Vets go the full distance

  3. Avatar Michael O'Halloran says:

    Read the Captain’s true story
    A big reason is not forgetting our veterans
    Remember…..We Will Remember Them
    Don’t let this foolishness thing EVER happen again
    The Federal Gov. should be ashamed for this happening.

  4. Avatar Michael O'Halloran says:

    AN AIRLINE CAPTAIN’S REPORT

    The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it…..

    The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died serving it.”

    AIRLINE CAPTAIN

    My lead flight attendant came to me and said, “We have an H.R. on this flight.” (H.R. stands for Human Remains.)

    “Are they military?” I asked.

    ‘Yes’, she said.

    ‘Is there an escort?’ I asked.

    ‘Yes, I’ve already assigned him a seat’.

    ‘Would you please tell him to come to the Flight Deck. You can board him early,” I said…

    A short while later a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier.

    The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us. ‘My soldier is on his way back to Virginia,’ he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.

    I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no.

    I told him that he had the toughest job in the military, and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the Flight Deck to find his seat.

    We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight, I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin.

    ‘I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is also on board’, she said She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in

  5. Avatar Michael J. Donohue says:

    Another blunder by Veterans Affairs. And now they are back trackng and making up false reasons why the 40 Veterans wont be attending. A real disgraceful act by our government.

    • Avatar Michael J. Donohue says:

      And yes I am sure that Veterans Affairs Minister and Trudeau will attend. What disgraceful costume will Trudeau show up in.

  6. Avatar Michael O'Halloran says:

    This “Not Attending” on the beach of Bernieres-sur-mer is a total disgrace.
    Has fast some forget, imagine if the heroes that gave their life said No I’m not going in ! Or the wounded by the enemy one of them my brother said Ooops not today.
    Who’s running the store here.
    You should all be death with.

  7. Avatar Shane Newman says:

    This is a huge huge mistake. Our WW2 vets will most likely not be with us for the next anniversary. So this points to the fact that our Government and Veterans Affairs are not concerned with what could be quite possibly their last trip to pay respect to their mates. June 6th is the biggest event and the most important, so I guess it is far more important that next “Wave” of guests will be the dignitaries, etc that were not there when it happened. As a veteran myself, after reading this article I am ashamed to have served such an idiotic government to do this to people we owe so much to. Shame on you Liberals and Veteran Affairs for such a blatant slap in the face of those who gave so much, so you can go around to have photo ops, and slap each other on the shoulder for a good job done.

    For shame

  8. Avatar PAUL FEENSTRA says:

    Who would expect a spoiled brat like Trudeau to understand what sacrifice means, as he’s been flying around, eating 5-star meals on our tax dollars. The fact that he’s there and the veterans aren’t is deplorable. You can donate here https://www.junobeach.org/financial-supporter-program/

  9. Avatar Sherman Grass says:

    A total disgrace again by this government! You can be rest assured the PM will be there.

  10. Avatar Dan Quigley says:

    This is a disgrace!
    Whomever cancelled this event should be fired! I talked to a group of veterans who are about to travel to France and are greatly disappointed with this.

  11. Avatar Darryl K. says:

    I was at the 70th of D-Day at Juno Beach and it was well done. I was also at the 100th of Vimy and it was deplorable. What has changed….?

  12. Avatar Frank Hummel says:

    As I see it any Canadian vet alive today should have his or her trip paid for by this government of they want to go over to Normandy that’s the least this cheap country can-do for them for what they gave us back then Mr Trudeau

  13. Avatar Gloria J says:

    I know of two modern day Veterans (& Life Members of The Royal Canadian Legion) from Trenton, Ontario, who served overseas though not in WWII, who will be attending this ceremony.

  14. Avatar Cheryl says:

    So sad….thinking of my Dad and Mom. We should be bending over backwards for these heroes. We won’t have them much longer…we need to honour them NOW before it’s too late

  15. Avatar phil says:

    Im a Yank weighing in here ….why aren’t they going to be there they were a big factor in the Liberation of Europe…. this is totally wrong !!

  16. Avatar Glenna Smith-Walkden says:

    Shame on you Trudeau and VAC It was bad enough us Afghanistan veterans were not invited to your “top secret” unveiling of the KAF monument now hidden away from the public, now you humiliate our Second World War veterans by deciding they will not attend the most important anniversary on June 6th. What is the country coming to?

  17. Avatar Steve Collie says:

    An insult, I sure a few Vets can make it.

  18. Avatar Neil Hamilton says:

    This is probably the last time these real heroes will get the chance to re-visit the place that would bring them back to a most meaningful time in history. When men fought bravely, and many gave their lives to the cause of liberty. Nothing has ever defined Canadians better than the bravery all of these men showed that day in June of 1944. To steal it away from those who would risk everything again to be part of the tribute to their fallen comrades is another blow to the memory that seems to have become lost in the chaos of greed and partisan politics of the day. Lest we forget.

  19. Avatar Philip Craig says:

    Veterans Affairs … couldn’t run a bath!

  20. Avatar Margaret Roberts says:

    When will Trudeau start treating our Veterans like the heroes they are.😢😢😢😢😢

  21. Avatar John Fox says:

    Trudeau realizes that he is on the way out and is doing whatever he can to hurt Canada as his form of Payback. His bringing convicted terrorists into Canada, sending financial support to terrorist-supporting nations (like Syria) all the while ignoring our veterans, homeless and seniors.

    The terrorists that he,s bringing into our peaceful country belong to organizations that had the goal of killing us “infidels” and killed and maimed our soldiers and the troops of our allies. It’s only after they were captured that they had their “come to Jesus” moment and decided that they wanted to come to their sworn enemy… Canada.

    Trudeau, with knowledge afore thought, is bringing these people into our country and is overriding our own laws to do so. Our RCMP and Canada Customs have been directed to ignore our laws and ASSIST these totally unvetted immigrants coming in. God only knows who they really are.

    An investigation into the interpretation of the words “treason “ and. “traitor “ paint an incredibly powerful picture of what our “beloved” PM has, and continues to do.

    To come back on point, this latest slap in the face to our national hero’s is just one more mean-spirited insult to not-only our veterans but to Canada at large.

    Trudeau is a traitor and should be investigated, charged and tried as such. Sadly, one of the major stumbling blocks to that process is the Executive Level of the RCMP. The Commissioner and the other Executive Level commissioned officers (at that level) don’t have the intentional fortitude to take the appropriate actions and put a stop to what our out of control PM is doing. Instead they follow the directives of their political masters and order the rank and file to ignore the law and ASSIST the illegal immigrants coming in.

  22. Avatar Paul Cormier says:

    This is a BIG slap in the face to our brave Veterans who gave all for peace…
    Shame on Trudeau and VAC for their blatant disregard and lack of interest on this historical event.

  23. Avatar Carol Hickson says:

    A go fund me page should be started. Shame on the government!

  24. Avatar Deborah Timperley says:

    Our war veterans and their family’s should be given free transportation and rooms to stay paid by our Canadian government!
    They gave their all so you could give it to every other country do the Vets the same grace!!!!

  25. Avatar Cristina Parker says:

    This is just appalling that the last of the 40 veterans are not going to this event, because Veteran’s Affairs cancelled them going. It’s because of them we have our freedom! There should be nothing to stop them from going and honouring them as it should be. Veteran’s Affairs should be ashamed of themselves.

  26. Avatar Nancy Lusk says:

    But, of course if our so-called government paid for our veterans to attend, that would leave less money in the coffers for his trips around the world ! It’s absolutely disgusting !

  27. Avatar Mike H says:

    There is only one 75th Anniversary, once it has passed, there is no other. Do the right thing and take the WWII Vets there they deserve to be there and without them, who knows we may not of had any other options. Trudeau arrogance at its peak.

  28. Avatar John says:

    I’m a Yank – This is sad as Canada played such an important roll in all of WWII – and especially in The D-Day Landings.

    Canada had a debt to settle – The Dieppe Practice Raid In 1942 – the majority of losses were Canadian. And – later an unprovoked and undeserved massacre of Canadian Servicemen by elements of The SS a day after The D-Day Landings – meant Canada had another score to settle.

    Thank you Canada – from a grateful American – for you brave Soldiers Service and Sacrifice.

    • Avatar John Edwards says:

      thanks for your comments..my late father was a 6 year WW2 Canadian veteran who was wounded three times and lost a lot of good mates. Canada pulled well above it’s weight..I am damn proud of them and all allied veterans, almost of whom were volunteers, at least in Canada. The greatest generation we ever had..

  29. Avatar Hal Gibbens says:

    My Uncle who was a Military Policeman landed at Juno Beach. The job of the Military Police was to direct traffic landing on the beach. The life expectancy of the MP’s was zero (0). He survived the day and the war. The only thing he ever said was “it was hell!” As luck would have it my Uncle, my Aunt and my 6 yr old cousin were killed by a drunk in a stolen car near CFB Shilo, Man.

  30. Avatar Gerry says:

    You would think some if any from our armed forces would be there to pay there respects for the brothers and sisters who gave the ultimate sacrifice. VAC or not

  31. Avatar Stan Turnbull says:

    Just a n arrogant Trudeau approach to vets

    • Avatar Marion (Barr) Vermeersch says:

      Successive governments have been dismissive, neglectful, arrogant and, I think, stupid in many ways to our Veterans. My brother (a Veteran of the Canadian Navy, 1953-78 and I came with our English War Bride mother to Canada in May, 1946. My father, who had originally come to Canada as a Scottish Home Child in 1925 went back to serve as a sergeant in the Royal Canadian Artillery,14th Regiment, Juno Beach and all, and was discharged back to Sunnybrook at the end of 1945. We all had citizenship until 2003-4, when we suddenly found out (my brother applied for a passport and was denied) that the citizenship of our family and thousands of others had been stripped So it’s been a struggle for so many people for the last 15 years, continually being told there were no such thing as Canadian citizens until 1947 and we should “never have been given it in the first place”!
      I am so sorry to see that the remaining vets will not be going: were they or their families consulted? We have been unable to travel out of country all these years without citizenship. So much for honouring Canadian (Yes!) Veterans.
      I just hope a future government does not extend this disqualification to my father’s descendants. Surely Canadian Veterans deserve better than this.
      It’s well past time that Canadian history with the 1947 magic date was rewritten.

  32. Avatar Morris Fisher says:

    Yet another thoughtless faux pass by our government! Our veterans are again besmirched by those who know nothing about courage and valour!

  33. Avatar Boudreau says:

    a national disgrace

  34. Avatar Sherrill wiseman says:

    Trudeau government betraying Canadians yet again! Go be premier of Quebec or something where you don’t insult Canadians on a daily basis!

    • Avatar Marion Vermeersch says:

      The last government (and MP’s in my area still) just insisted that the soldiers in WWII from Canada were not Canadian Citizens, that they were only British subjects, no Canadians until 1947. Therefore, the last government felt quite justified in stripping citizenship from them, their War Brides and families as well as other groups they deemed not worthy of Canadian citizenship.
      Strange, I am looking right now at a frame with Canadian medals (says so on them), and pictures of my Dad and uncle in uniforms which say CANADA on the shoulder patch, taken in Europe during WWII. And relatives in Worthing,Sussex, England, tell me there is a memorial dedicated to all the Canadian Regiments stationed along their coast 1939-46. They recall the Canadians arriving and that they were certainly not British!
      And now Canada is not even sending them for the 75th services as they deserve.

  35. Avatar Alex Erl says:

    Is this for real????

  36. Avatar MGeneral (retd) Clive Addy says:

    Ask the Veterans and then insist they get to Canada House on the 6th if they so choose.They earned it!!!

  37. This federal gov’t of supposed LIEbrals seems quite ready to shutdown all military veterans events that seem to take attention off of the useless PM in CANADA, even to the point of resettling a war memorial with no family of dead military personnel attending due to the LIEbrals showing their disdain for CANADAs military…and seeing as this comment is under control of the CBC it will more than likely disappear into LIEbral censorship…

  38. Avatar Robert Taylor says:

    This is a terrible atrocity, these men have earned the right to be there to celebrate Their bravery and the sacrifices MANY others paid. Its because of their past you have your present and future. Respect them by respecting them. THEY should be their, the ones that can travel and make it. To say they can’t be their for the celebration but two days later is an embarrassment to what they gave. GET THEM THERE….

  39. Avatar William Thompson says:

    How about leaving it up to the veterans to make the decision to attend or not ?
    That generation of veterans are passing away in large numbers and out of respect they should be given priority .
    Little recognition by the government who have very few members who have ever been in uniform and so obvious not a priority.
    This is just another display by this government of the lack of respect for anything to do with the military and veterans. but no surprise however. I wonder if PM Trudeau will be able to make time as he will be in France or will he be too busy elsewhere having photo ops ?!
    Freedom is taken for granted by those who’ve never been in danger of losing it …nothing changes sadly.

  40. Avatar Buck says:

    Did VA ask the veterans where they wanted to be on the 6th ?

  41. Avatar David Moriarty says:

    An absolute disgrace that Canadian Veterans will NOT attend. Shameful act on part of the Canadian Veterans Affaires. Makes me mad and sad, as a 38 year veteran.

    • Avatar Stuart says:

      Is there a way of finding out who the WWII vets are that are still alive? I’m sure that even if the Liberal Government are snubbing them if the French Government knew who to send the invitation to I bet the would and most likely the people of Canada would pay to get them there. Heck if we knew who they were the people of Ft Mac would probably work together to make it happen

      • Avatar Ralph Edwards says:

        What a sad shape Canada is in when we can’t send any of our veterans. I guess our governments thinks they are not important enough. My father gave six years of his life to protect this country and now he would role in his grave. Shame to the higher ups that waste so much of our tax dollars on other countries and can’t take care of our own..