Juno Beach (Overlay) discussion
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Juno Beach (Overlay)
An aerial reconnaissance picture of Juno Beach made during D-Day over Courseulles-sur-Mer.
Juno was the second most heavily defended of the five landing sites chosen, after the more famous Omaha Beach. General Richter was in charge of the 716th Division guarding the beach, with 11 heavy batteries of 155 mm guns and 9 medium batteries of 75 mm guns at his disposal. Additionally, pillboxes and other fortifications were present all along the beach, most heavily concentrated at the Courseulles-sur-mer region. The seawall was twice the height of Omaha Beach's, and the ocean was heavily mined. However, the 716th Division was composed primarily of boys under 18, men over 35, and veterans of the Russian front who had suffered debilitating injuries, reducing the beach's difficulty to some degree.
Aerial bombardment of Juno Beach in the days leading up to D-Day caused no significant damage to German fortifications. Naval bombardment, running from 6:00 AM to 7:30 AM and including everything from battleship barrages to fire from tanks and artillery sitting on transport ship decks only managed to destroy 14 per cent of the bunkers guarding the beach, and due to weather delays the Germans had half an hour between cessation of bombardment and landing of Canadian troops to regroup.
Juno beach was divided up into two sectors, the one to the west called Mike and the one to the east called Nan. The 7th Brigade, supported by the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), were to land and control Mike Sector. The 8th brigade, supported by the 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse), landed on Nan sector. The 9th Brigade was to be left in reserve.
In the first hour of the assault on Juno Beach, the Canadian forces suffered approximately 50 per cent casualty rates, comparable to those suffered by the Americans at Omaha Beach. Once the Canadians cleared the seawall (about an hour after jumping off the transports), however, they started to advance quickly inland and had a much easier time subduing the German defences than the Americans at Omaha would. By noon, the 3rd Canadian Division had completely landed and had pushed several kilometres inland to seize bridges over Seulles River, and at 6 p.m., they captured the town of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer. A 1st Hussars armoured troop was the only unit in Normandy that had reached its objectives; it had pushed 15 km inland and crossed the Caen-Bayeux highway. However, this troop was forced to pull back because they had passed the supporting infantry. By the end of D-Day the 3rd Canadian Division had penetrated farther into France than any other Allied force, having faced resistance stronger than at any beachhead save Omaha.