Storming Juno (2010) Script

Going to Normandy.

Army Intel is only two out of five of us are going to make it off this beach.

Freedom!

Let us launch!

They're gonna die without us!

Fire!

Move out! Don't stop for anything!

We're the first unit to go in.

One hundred and ten men of "C" company.

First Canadian Parachute battalion.

In training we thought we were the best!

Way tougher than the infantry.

But this is going to be our first time in combat, our first chance to do our part.

June, 1944.

The world's been at war for almost five years.

Hitler's war machine has killed millions and Europe is living under Nazi rule.

But that's about to change.

After two years of planning and training, this is it!

"D-Day"!

The plan is to launch a massive surprise attack against Hitler's fortress Europe.

It's a do or die operation.

We'd either set the stage for the defeat of Hitler, or get slaughtered and pushed back into the sea.

The beaches are code-named;

'Sword', 'Gold,' 'Utah', 'Omaha'.

Us Canadians?

We have one of the most heavily defended beaches on the line.

It's called Juno.

This is my story.

This is our story.

What's wrong?

I don't mind jumping. I, just can't stand looking.

Well switch with me then.

We were going to be dropped deep into Nazi occupied France.

Nine hours before the rest of the invasion forces even hit the beaches.

Jeez-Louise Hartigan, what you got in there?

A few extra mortars.

You're gonna drop like a rock.

We were the tip of the spear.

Whoo!

Best seat in the house here!

Almost seven thousand ships stretched out across the English Channel.

About a hundred and sixty thousand men.

'D Day', the largest sea-born invasion in history.

Holy Jesus!

And me a kid from Sydney, Nova Scotia, way out in front.

We'd been stuck on this ship for three days.

Seasick, couldn't sleep, couldn't eat.

But the men were holding up.

Seventh Platoon.

My Platoon!

Mostly prairie boys from Saskatchewan.

Hunters.

Trappers.

Indians.

A lot of farm boys.

We looked out for one another.

Some joined for adventure, some out of duty.

Others were just plain hungry and the Army paid a dollar a day.

We'd been chosen to lead the first wave of the beach assault. Alright, enough, enough. Alright, anyone else?

It was going to be our first time in combat.

Cutler, you in you little woman?

I got five bucks on Apple.

Alright.

We were young.

Luis Brunning was only fifteen when he joined.

We called him 'Apple'.

Snake eyes! Snakes eyes!

Whoa, whoa, whoa. What's this?

Ooohhh? From your girl? What?

What, oh, you have a girlfriend!

Oooh. Who is she?

No one.

What's her name? Ah, C'mon!

What does she look like?

Who is she? Who is she?

Look, look.

C'mon look, it's from my mother.

Ma-ma!

Did he just say from my mother? Did he just say from my mother?

Aw.

Apple's mommy loves him.

What's it say? What's it say?

Nuthin.

Aw c'mon, what's it say? Let me see.

Ah, Come on leave him alone.

Well, what it's say?

Ah, It says um, "God Keep Him Safe."

Well God, let him roll sevens, huh?

Amen.

Make me some money!

Oh! Nice!

Now I get to roll.

(miscellaneous talk)

Hey, hey roll em up again, again, let's go!

What, something I said?

I joined the Army, not the god-damned Navy!

Me?

I was in the Army long before this war.

Signed up in Montreal, Quebec, just seventeen years old.

I didn't want to be no hero, just stay out of the poorhouse.

I'm what you call a P.S.. Permanent Soldier.

My wife said it stood for "permanently stupid".

My ex-wife tell the truth.

Silverberg! What are you doing?

Joining the United Church?

Good Jewish boy like you?

Look. It's my mother's orders.

Turn the 'J' to a 'U'.

Just in case we get taken prisoner.

No one's going to take us prisoner.

We're going all the way to Paris!

I'll find you all a nice Mademoiselle.

You'll see.

Where you goin?

Probably the only dry place on this whole Goddamned military vessel!

Don't puke in the tank McGinnis!

Yeah, don't worry Silver, I got nuthin left!

Our tank is a top secret weapon.

Designed just for 'D-Day'.

It can launch directly into the sea.

They're called a duplex drive.

You take a Sherman tank, and an inflatable canvas screen, waterproof the hull, connect propellers to the driveshaft.

And viola, you've got a thirty-two ton floating tank.

And let's you drive it out of the sea.

A big surprise for the Germans.

That's the way to travel.

First class!

Final checks!

We were going in, disguised as a routine bombing run.

That's why we were packed into these old bombers like sardines.

Final checks.

Be bloody careful, no accidents, please!

The drop was behind enemy lines.

Fifteen miles from the coast where the main invasion force would land.

We'd be on our own for days.

So we loaded ourselves down with extra grenades.

Mortar rounds, you name it.

Hartigan!

Open the bloody hatch.

There was France. From five hundred feet.

At two hundred miles per hour.

Red up, hook up!

The red light was the warning.

Two minutes till the green light.

Two minutes before all of us, one hundred and ten men of 'C' Company would jump straight into... God knows what?

Remember we've got fifteen seconds to clear this place, so move fast!

Hartigan, spot me a cigarette would ya?

Hit the ground and move!

What? Now?

We have, five minutes to make it to the rally point.

I don't mean for now, I mean for later.

You do not make it? You're on your own!

Here, take the whole god-damned pack!

Good luck!

I tried not to think about being shot on the drop.

Or landing on a tree.

Or drowning in the flooded fields below.

We knew we were heading towards the coast.

But the exact location of our landing was kept secret.

Most bets were on Calle .

Some thought Holland, even Germany itself.

We're goin to Normandy.

Did anyone win the bet?

No sir.

Good, let's hope the Jerrie's are even more surprised.

The Americans have 'Utah', and 'Omaha'.

Brits, 'Gold', and 'Sword'.

The Canadian beach, 'Juno' Beach, it's here, and our sector, 'Nan Green', is here.

Our target, is actually a little fishing village called

'Courseulles-sur-Mer'.

Everything else just as we trained.

MG-42's, 55's, 75's and the 88.

The heaviest position on the beach and it is all ours!

The Germans had four years to turn the coast of France into a concrete fortress.

Hundreds of miles of bunkers, heavy guns barbed wire, mines.

According to Army Intelligence, our beach, Juno Beach was manned by eight thousand German soldiers from the seven hundred and sixteenth division.

It was one of the most heavily fortified sectors of Hitler's Atlantic Wall. Get past the first fifteen minutes boys, we're gonna be okay.

Alright?

Dsmissed.

♪ [SINGING] pack all your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile... ♪ Most of us weren't expected to make it off the beach.

♪ [SINGING] ...smile, smile. ♪ We all knew. But nobody talked about it.

♪ [SINGING] ...your fag, ♪

♪ [SINGING] Smile boys, that's the style, ♪

♪ what's the use of worrying? ♪

♪ It never was worth while, ♪

♪ so pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag, ♪

♪ and smile, smile, smile. ♪

(Laughter)

We had fifteen seconds to empty the plane.

If you hesitated, the men behind you would get scattered, and we'd all be screwed.

Of course the plane had to be in exactly the right place at the right time.

Green lights on! Green on!

Go Go Go Go Go!

Move it!

Move! Move it!

Just after I jumped, I'm thinkin, "What the hell am I doing here?"

'D-DAY'.

We launch at dawn.

The plan is to drop into the sea two miles offshore and arrive just before the infantry.

There's no turning back now.

Listen gonna tell you straight up, Army Intel says only two out of five of us are going to make it off this beach.

If we wanna make it, we're going to have to keep our heads, stay smart.

Remember that we got one job, punch through the enemy lines.

Remember that and we'll be okay.

Paratroopers would have landed by now.

Each airborne unit had a specific objective, knock out a bridge, or communication line, to prevent the Germans from launching a counter-attack against the beach.

Our job was to secure the drop zone by launching a surprise attack on a German garrison near a town called Varaville.

We had to take out their main gun before the next wave of twenty-five hundred paratroopers came in.

If we failed, those boys would get slaughtered.

I had five minutes to get to the rally point.

Problem was, I had no idea where the hell I was, or how to get there.

First time I get bombed, it's by our own air-force.

Maybe they missed their target, maybe we'd been dropped in the wrong place.

Maybe both.

Maybe we were all screwing up.


Punch!

Judy! What?

"Judy!" Jesus Christ, "Judy!"

Um, "Who won the Stanley Cup?"

Habs!

Four-games-straight.

You look like shit Hartigan.

You're one to talk.

Any idea where we are?

France?

How the hell do we get to the rally point?

I dunno.

We'd missed the rendezvous.

I wondered how many others were lost.

Wandering around the French countryside.

Or dead.

Dawn. June sixth, 1944.

At last we could see it.

The long grey coastline of Normandy.

Then our Navy guns opened up. So loud it was like getting punched in the chest.

We hoped it was doing a lot worse to the Germans. Alright, alright! One last time.

LCA drops us here at H-hour.

Katesman!

Chief snipes the machine-gun position here while me, Apple, Bashnick and Culty take the Bangalores and blow the wire.

Here.

Good! Blow the wire.

Chief!

Section One pushes through to take the Machine Gun pillbox.

STORK.

We then rally here.

And attack the main bunker, here, destroying the 88.

Good.

Alright! There'll be a lot of heavy smoke.

What do you do if you get lost?

Grab STORK and poke his head through the clouds.

Move up that beach and keep moving no matter what.

You do not stop to help the wounded.

No one stops.

Medics take care of that. Alright?

Listen. Given the Naval bombardment, chances are nothing will be left.

With seas like this, launching the tanks was going to be tricky. but the time was here to get em in the water.

The bloody Brit won't let us launch.

What?

Navy command is saying it's too rough.

But this is 'bullshit'.

Well Sergeant, I can see their point.

We've never launched in conditions like this before.

But sir I...

Four of your men can't even swim.

Yeah, but I...

Including you.

Major, I speak for my men.

We'd rather take our chances out there, than stay on this rolling puke bucket.

C'mon sir let us launch.

Those infantry boys they're going to die without us.

Okay, okay. Leave it to me.

What about the Brit?

It's not his show.

Sergeant Gariepy.

Bonne chance.

I was thinking, was that very brave? or very stupid? ♪ Bagpipes ♪ Bird, looks like we're gonna be in the movies.

Yeah, a regular Gary Cooper huh?

Hi mom!

♪ Bagpipes ♪ Hey Apple, know why bagpipers are always walkin around?

To get away from that noise.

♪ Bagpipes ♪ Load em in.

Section One! Loading!

It's about bloody time. Let's move.

Pick it up. Pick it up!

Careful with that kid!

After three days at sea, we finally boarded the landing craft that would take us in to the beach.

Each carried a Platoon of thirty-six men.

Just little boats made of plywood and steel.

Bouncing around like a cork.

According to plan, we were to land on the beach at 'H' hour just when the Naval bombardment was scheduled to stop.

We were scared.

Anyone who said he wasn't, was either a liar or just plain crazy.

Okay Men, prepare to launch, prepare to launch.

McGinnis, start er up!

Navy command said it was too dangerous to launch.

But our C.O. Decided to push forward.

Everyone in our squadron, all nineteen tank crews...

Electrics on.

...felt we had to chance it.

Radio check.

Main gun in position!

Ladies, our skirt is up.

Take us in McGinnis!

Aye, aye Captain!

Here we go.

... McGinnis. Hold steady.

We launched more than two miles off shore.

The first tank in our unit to go in.

But I wondered, how many of us would make the beach?

Dawn. D-Day.

The first infantry assault wave is already headed for the beach.

Further inland air-borne units are racing to secure their objectives to prevent a German counter-attack against our beach forces.

Mallon and I had spent our whole night dodging enemy patrols.

By sunrise, we finally made our way to the objective.

The German garrison at Varaville.

We were so late, we figured the rest of our unit had already knocked out the gun that threatened our main drop zone.

Get down!

Get down. Get down. Over here! Hey, Stupid. Where've you been?

MacPhee, what the hell's going on?

Makela, take the Bren gun over there.

Keep your head down.

Why haven't you taken the objective?

Because of that Pillbox.

The German artillery's back there, hidden that wall.

Right there?

Yeah.

Where's Macleod?

Major MacLeod is dead.

In the house there.

We were scouting when the gun opened up.

Jesus --

Where the hell is everyone else? only 17 of us made it.

We can't get past that pillbox.

So go around.

We tried that. There's minefields on either side.

There's no way in.

Well, I have to do something.

We can't take it. We're out numbered.

And we got nothing - no PIATS. One Bren gun.

Your mortar's the biggest thing we've got.

Best bet is just to keep'em tied-up

'till reinforcements come in.

Bull-shit.

We've got to do something.

I'm gonna scout out the position.

Maybe I can find a way in.

Okay. See if you can get up to the rooftop.

Sergeant McPhee and the others had kept the enemies engaged all night.

But sooner or later German reinforcements were bound to show up.

Careful in there Hartigan.

The German's had converted this house into a barracks.

While I was lost in the french countryside, our commander, Major McCloud, led the assault.

We stormed the place with just a few men, the ground floor was deserted.

McCloud took a handful of men up to the second floor.

It was empty too.

The beds were still warm.

The German's had fled just a few minutes earlier.

McCloud must've had them convinced they were outnumbered.

From up here McCloud and his men began to scout for the German's main gun.

But the gun found them first.

I'd never seen anyone dead before.

I didn't know thing's like that could happen to a person's body.

Last night, they were alive.

If I hadn't got lost it could've just as easily been me lying on the floor.

Instead of my friends.

If I got higher up, maybe I could see our objective.

The gun that killed those men.

I could see the pillbox that had us pinned.

And there, beyond it, the main gun.

A seventy-five millimeter artillery piece surrounded by minefields.

Past that wall, the Germans were using a path that led from the pillbox through to the minefield.

Straight to the gun.

If we could get to that path, we could get to the gun.

But how to get past the pillbox?

Then I saw it.

A way in.

The launch, along with the weather was a mess.

Less than half the tanks that were supposed to launch made it into the water.

We were supposed to hit the beach just before the infantry but the heavy seas delayed us.

McGinnis turn right.

Turn right!

Sarge, I can't turn against the waves.

The waves are too big.

Go, GO FULL THROTTLE!

We're full out.

Please God. Not now...not now.

Water.

We got water comin in.

Sarge we got water coming in!

Thank-you, Neal. That's fine.

Let me know when it reaches your knees.

I was bluffing.

And scared.

In training a number of our men drowned.

One heavy wave over that canvas skirt and down we would go.

Trapped inside a steel coffin.

I was worried for my crew.

But we were late.

Without our heavy guns, those infantry guys wouldn't have a chance. 200 yards to shore! Prepare for landing!

Stick with me Apple. When our Navy guns fell silent, I knew we were in trouble.

Every minute we were delayed, allowed the German's time to regroup.

Why have our guns stopped?

We're late.

We're supposed to be on the beach now.

A mile offshore, the sea was crowded with landing crafts.

But as we grew closer to our landing sectors, we began to spread out.

100 Yards.

Get yourselves ready.

You okay with that?

Soon, we were alone.

I'm right behind you buddy!

Church tower. It's still there!

Looks like everything's still there!

They missed our beach.

50 yards!

Open the gate.

Steady.

Keep it steady.

Section One. Standby!

I want those Bangalores to the wire fast.

Don't stop till you're there.

You see a bangalore drop, pick it up.

You see a ladder drop you pick it up.

Good luck sir!

You'll be fine Apple.

Stick with me kid.

Go in full speed.

Down ramp!

The Navy bombardment had left the enemies positions unscathed.

We couldn't see them, but we knew they were waiting for us. Where the hell is everyone? Where the hell are the tanks? REGINA JOHNS!

UP THE JOHNS!

Section One! GO! GO! GO! Don't stop for anything! Go! GO! GO! KEEP MOVING. MOVE OUT! (screams)

Agh! GET TO THE BEACH! GET TO THE BEACH! Section two! Move out! I've been hit!

GO! GO! GO! DON'T STOP FOR ANYTHING!

(screams)

Move out! Keep going!

MOVE! MOVE! MOVE! COME ON GET TO THE BEACH! Get out of the water!

Forward position! Get down! Get down!

Mortar.

MORTAR! Don't touch him! Just let him go.

MEDIC!

Leave him, just get to the beach.

LET'S GO! LET'S GO!

Fire. Move, move, move!

Don't stop! Go, go, go. There's coverage ahead, move, move.

Run for cover! Grayson!

They told us if we could survive the first fifteen minutes, we'd take the beach.

But we landed directly in front of the machine gun pillbox.

Five minutes in and I'd lost most of my platoon.

We stay here, we're dead.

COVER ME!

COVER FIRE! LET'S GO! MOVE OUT!

Move out! Follow Grayson. Keep firing! We've got to take out that pillbox.

(Screams)

Bashnick! Cutler!

Bring up the Bangalore!

Cover him! Cover him now! Get behind those sandbags.

Grab the the Bangalore.

Move! We've got to blow this wire. Grab the the Bangalore. Hurry up!

Grab the the Bangalore.

Are you okay?

Hurry up!

I'm sorry, Phil.

Get that Bangalore over here.

Medics! Man down. Blow the wire!

Coming through.

Keep fighting!

HEADS DOWN! We're clear.

We blew the wire but we were still trapped. Move up.

There were no tanks, no support.

We were alone.

8:20 Am. D-Day.

Only fifteen minutes in and half my men are down.

The enemy resistance is fierce.

I made it to the beach, but so many of my men never made it out of the water.

On the beach, there's nowhere to hide from the mortars, mines and the machine gun fire.

We were trapped behind the wire.

Until a lone tank surfaced from the sea.

McGinnis, stop!

Dropping the skirt.

We were the first tank in our unit to reach the beach.

The rest had either sunk or scattered.

We were only minutes late.

But the beach was already littered with bodies.

McGinnis, keep us moving.

Go full speed.

Straight ahead.

Hit the pillbox.

Load one round!

A team.

(Speaking German) Armstrong, cover me, I'm goin, I'm goin.

COVER FIRE!

I'm going for the Pillbox. Take out the machine gun. What the hell?

(Speaking German)

Reverse right.

Artillery! It's the bunker.

Load one round.

A Team.

(Speaking German)

To the right of the machine gun pillbox, there was a large fortified bunker.

It was a tank killer. C'mon, c'mon!

Loaded!

Target!

Fire!

Find your craft.

Correct.

Loaded!

Target!

Fire!

Our gun was no match for the bunker.

But we could hit the machine gun that was killing our infantry.

I got to get close.

(Speaking German)

On target.

Fire! We took out the pillbox.

The main bunker was still hunting us.

We had to get off that beach. With the Pillbox destroyed, I made my way to the bunker.

I made my way to the bunker to take out that artillery piece. Where the hell's he going?

He's going for the bunker.

Cover fire! Cover fire! Fire!

McGinnis, get us off this bloody beach!

I can't see! I can't see!

Keep moving. In line.

Grenade!

(Speaking German) Hurry! Hurry!

We charged off the beach to escape the German gun.

And blasted our way through anyone who tried to stop us.

Ow!

McGinnis, go!

Run them down.

AAGHH!

(Screams)

I entered the bunker and found myself underground. The Germans had built a secret network of tunnels.

To move men and supplies.

They were close.

But I didn't know where, or how many.

The beach invasion is underway, and thousands of paratroopers have already dropped into occupied France.

Thousands more are headed our way.

To protect the drop zone, we have to take out that main gun.

I found a way in.

Where?

There's a small gap between the wire and the north wall.

You can only see it from the roof.

Okay. I'm listening.

Why don't you send Mallon to the roof.

He can tell the boys to fire while you and I crawl up.

You bloody nuts?

Even if we get past that pillbox, how we gonna take out the 75?

We have to get close, fire flat like a bazooka.

(Laughs)

It's only a matter of time till German reinforcements show up.

I only have five rounds. We have to get close.

We hit'em point-blank.

It'll work.

Let's do it.

Ross, you fire on Mallon's signal.

Let's go.

Alright.

As the battle raged overhead, I could hear the enemy.

(German in background) Nein! Dis en ein d'cessant.

(German voices)

(MISCELLANEOUS TALK)

[GERMAN OFFICER] SPEAKING IN GERMAN

We had taken the command post, above ground, everything had gone quiet.

I figured either my men had taken the beach, or they were dead.

MacPhee and I made our way to the stone wall.

This would be our only chance to take out the main gun.

From the roof, Mallon would give the signal for our guys to open up.

We snaked along the path through the minefield.

Toward their gun.

We needed to get the mortar close enough to fire it point blank.

We couldn't afford to miss.

We gotta get out front. Brace on the tree.

Ready?

Go!

Ready!

Don't shoot. We surrender.

Drop your weapons.

We surrender.

The German garrison at Varaville had us outnumbered. but we took out their gun, Hands up, hands up, hands up. we captured more than eighty prisoners.

We radioed the code word, 'Blood'.

It meant 'C' Company, the first Canadian parachute battalion had completed the mission.

Bitte! Bitte! Bitte!

[speaks in German]

We surrender.

Our tank made it off the beach.

And into town.

The fighting was street to street.

House to house.

Dirty fighting.

The place was crawling with snipers. We hated snipers.

You caught one, you didn't take prisoners.

We made it through town supporting the infantry.

Then headed to our next objective.

We stopped in the French countryside.

You could hear the war in the distance.

But here, everything was calm.

Three, this is three, three alpha over.

Three, this is three, three alpha over.

For a few minutes the war seemed a long way a way.

Nice eh?

Sarge!

The C.O. Wants us to rendezvous at a crossroads, a mile up-road.

One other thing, our troop, number three troupe, we're the only ones left.

Let's saddle up.

Out of all the tanks in our squadron, we were the only troupe left.

McGinnis!

Start us up.

On our way to the rendezvous we learned that snipers had killed a number of our comrades.

Friends of mine from the same unit.

Sniper.

See anything?

Farmhouse.

Second floor!

There's movement in the window.

McGinnis. Take us in.

It's just a sniper.

That bastard just shot at me.

Nells! One round HE.

Nells could radio it in. Let the infantry deal with it.

I said take us in. That is a Goddamned Order!

Maybe I wasn't rational. Maybe I was angry.

So we went in.

Hit the farmhouse. Load one round HE.

We're loaded.

Fire!

Sir!

FIRE!

SIR!

What the hell are you waiting for?

There's people- Civilians I'll do it myself! Monsieur! Monsieur!

[yelling in french]

Sarge, we gotta go.

Leo!

This sniper, she was just nineteen years old.

Her German fiancée had been killed that morning.

I had done my best to protect my men.

To make our objective.

And to come through in one piece.

But the victory, well, comes at a price.

What happened, Sarge? Did you get'im?

Hey. What happened?

Driver. Let's go.

We had broken through the first line of German defense on Juno beach.

Hitler's Atlantic wall was finally breached.

For many of the German prisoners, we captured, their war was over.

But for many of my men, they had lost so much more.

In there, move.

Sit!

(Speaking German)

On your knees!

(Speaking German)

You goddamned sonovabitches!

Canesmen!

These basterds!

Canesmen!

They killed Apple.

ARGH!

Easy.

Easy brother.

(Sobbing)

He was just a kid.

He was just a kid.

Lieutenant Grayson. He took this bunker by himself.

You shoulda seen'im I-

Sarge and I were just along for the ride.

You shoulda seen it.

All by himself.

By mid-morning, The Regina Rifles, with support from the tanks of the first Tsares became the first allied unit to secure a beach head on D-Day.

Many of the men, many of my friends, paid for the victory with their lives.

Of the one hundred and ten men of 'A' Company, only seventeen of us made it off Juno Beach.

Sir.

Lieutenant Grayson!

What now?

Get the men, let's go.

Yes sir.

This footage of Canadian troops storming Juno, was amongst the first images of D-Day seen around the world.

On that day our troops pushed further into France than any other allied Army.

The battle of Normandy had just begun, but within a year, Hitler would be defeated.

Of the sixteen thousand Canadians who landed on D-Day, almost one thousand men were killed or wounded.

Sometimes I wake my wife up with my talk.

[laughing]

So she tells me in the morning, but yeah I dream a lot.

I talked to a fella this morning down there.

Same thing, it never leaves us.

I can close my eyes and, and just see pictures.

I've tried to forget and it's been over sixty years so a few things fade away, but then something happens or questions are asked that ah, relive the situation.

Some terrible things way back in there.

That we just don't talk about.

I don't know, just a feeling I have, that I was supposed to be there.

And I was.

Well I'm glad I was there, but I don't want to go back.

Where do I start you know?

I gotta start thinking back.

Y-you come up with that saying, it's hard to remember which, what you, tried to forget.

[laughing]

I took part of the biggest Armada that ever sailed the sea.

Ah, you could almost walk to f-France.

Jump from one piece of equipment to another.

I was ah, section leader, and I was in 'B' Company...

...And it was with, I had twelve platoon.

And ah, that's twelve men, you were just like a, their Father or p-pretty well, it was quite a responsibility.

You know the big adventure for us?

To leave home... a-and be out on our own really in a sense.

So I-it was exciting for us.

It was sort of, it felt it was a duty to do.

That was ah, and there's so many men, out of work, they had nothing and what else could they do if the government isn't going to do anything for you?

Join up.

I Took my first opportunity to go and join.

I have a brother who was killed, in Italy.

I was mad, swore I'd get me a, kill me a German.

We're all there for the same reason.

We had to be.

In this thing together, and the quicker we get out of it, the better you know?

It was really quiet, there was nothing said, just one of those things, if you, you had this job to do and you just kept it to yourself.

Well I think a lot of thinking and a lot of praying. oh, we had to sleep some but we - you didn't sleep that much with that on your mind knowing the - what might happen, what could happen.

The night before, we got instructions to write our last letter home.

I was married, young, just, just just married.

Very young and very - and who do you send the letter to, your mom and dad?

Or your wife?

I addressed it to all of them.

That's a hell of a letter to have to write.

That channel, I don't know if you know it, but it can be rough at the best of times.

But it was very rough.

Horrible rough.

Everybody including myself was sea-sick right now.

The big ah... ships the destroyers and the ah, battleships, opened up a tremendous crescendo that - that's why I'm wearing two hearing aids now.

[explosion]

We had to crawl down, I don't know how many, maybe twenty or thirty feet, on these scramble nets, and you had to be very careful because the water was so rough that when the waves come it would lift the landing craft a way up and, and then let it down and you had to make sure that you didn't get squashed between the landing craft and the ship.

Right behind me, the Battleship Rodney sat, and every time the gun was fired, the recoil eh?

And every time you came forward, he sent a twenty foot wave.

That little barge I was on just went twenty feet up and twenty feet down.

I'll never forget it.

And I think maybe that's why I was so damn sick, I didn't give a damn if I made it to France or not.

We had bottles of rum... and it was passed along both sides, and ah, everybody took a swig you know, and when that one went empty, another one came on.

We're, I don't wanna use this word, but we were more than half pissed when we hit the beaches.

There was lots of a fellas, that had trained for two years and never touched the beach.

They were dead before they ever touched the beach.

I watched when they hit a mine, and I just happened to be looking that way and all of a sudden everything just big, big explosion. They just went blank.

Black.

And two, you could see two bodies goin up in the air.

There was the ah, tanks.

I don't know if you ever saw them and they were, they floated and they and they had curtained on them, and they floated in so far.

Amazing.

Floating them with a forty ton tank, with a couple a, three or four air bubble and coupla struts and you know, not a good move.

The whole thing got hit with a big wave or something and down it would go.

Next went down, the same thing.

Too much heavy water.

Way too rough.

Wiped out right there.

Twenty-five men, five tanks.

Off of that tank carrier that we were on, there was five didn't make it and our tank did.

You're scared stiff, and you can't tell it to anybody.

Everybody feels like you do.

You, that's a-it's a helluva situation really.

You know?

You're scared stiff.

And you just wondered, if, is, is this it?

That moment, is, is when you realize then, you realize then it was for real.

I've always said, you either, grew up that day, or you didn't grow up at all.

You were trained, just as soon as that door opened, you jumped out into the water, and you headed for the beach just as quick as you could get there.

In case they had their guns aimed at you well, they could just kill all you before you, as you were coming out.

The first fellow, he got up and...

He got hit, and he fell off into the water.

And the second guy he, he got hit in the arm and he laid on the gangplank there, and then it was my turn.

I was the third guy out.

Well they had to holler at me a couple of times, cause I was, I was petrified, I couldn't move you know?

When you get up to your chest pretty well, and you get a big wave and you it pushes you forward, and then when it back, it pulls you back again.

It was really hard to get ahead to get onto the beach.

I waded past a couple of bodies already floating.

I hit the ground running, I could see the sand kicking up where the bullets were hitting them.

And I just kept running like hell.

I was too stupid to be scared.

If you get hit well then, that's the time to start screaming.

These guys were peppering us, they had concrete pillboxes all over.

They had their...

Smizer and T42, fast, a fast fast belt fed gun.

Just a 'sbrrrmpf', like that.

'sbrrrmpf' they were fast.

[gun fire]

At the time where you get hit, it's more of a shock, it doesn't hurt, but I couldn't stand up, I couldn't run, I couldn't walk, I, the only way I could maneuver is crawl.

Or wait till the tide pushed me up a little.

Cause the tide was coming in all the time.

I was scared.

I tell ya, I was really really scared.

But you had to go forward.

I bet, bet there's eight or ten people layin there face down in the water.

Regina Rifle boys.

Shot right on the beach, ya?

You can't stop and pick those guys up.

It wasn't pretty.

Never forget it. Yeah.

I reached the ah, sea-wall, I could see everything unfolding like a giant landscape, in front of me there.

I could see guys running around.

Guys screaming, guys crying.

One man was waving a bible and screaming for his mother.

I seen like this tank, what they call a flail tank, big chains in front of it, turning and they're blowing up the mines as they go up the beach.

So I followed him up the beach, went on.

When we got tracks on France, we just drove maybe a couple of tank-lengths out of the water, all of a sudden I hear this, ping, like a sniper's shot, from... and we looked around, we saw this church steeple, that's where he's at.

The order was, I'm still here, "Gunner, driver's left, steady on.

Church Steeple.

You're on, got it.

Fire, when ready."

We took care of him and um from then it was go forward.

Our section would have to clean out this one pillbox, that was our, particular job.

We didn't want to be together because of a shell hit, we'd, we'd all get killed so we, had to kind of space ourselves out.

You just kept going till you hit that first line.

[gun fire]

We threw in a hand grenade first, and just as soon as that explodes you rushed in the back door and then the thing you just sprayed it, sprayed it, anything that moved with bullets.

And the a-h-h-and ah, that was it.

Anyone that ha-that was had a gun and and wave it around there was no hope for him.

It's either you or him.

Sergeant Snider said the first guy he shot, he had given up and kept hollering, "comrade, comrade!"

And he said, "I shot him anyway."

He said, "There was still a lot of fight left in him."

He said.

You know it's a hard thing to say but they said that there was no way we could take prisoners because there was no place to put them.

If there a German come out, it didn't matter, you disposed of him, that was just it, till, cause you had to clean everything out of the way so the next wave of soldiers could come through.

And ah, that's ah, the way it was.

And ah, how we ever got off there without losing a man, I'll...

[gun fire]


Some Germans, they were medics.

And I said, "first you're going to do my men.

And he says "Nein."

He wouldn't do it.

And I says, "and you gonna do me first."

And I told him, in german, "ich bin ein Jude', you know, I'm Jude - and you're gonna do what I tell ya. Or else!"

And I, there was a native guy standing beside me, and said, "lift your rifle, aim at his head, when you hear the word 'nein' coming from him, don't wait for me, just shoot the sonofabitch.

Don't wait for any orders."

And boy he was just ready to go, you know he was...

And this guy started to shake he was, he was really scared of Natives.

He, he said, "okay, okay, you know, all of a sudden he spoke English.

You don't even think about it.

The thing is, you've been trained so long that, "destroy your enemy!" anyone you can, and it, you have no emotions at all really.

But it's after, I find it harder now,

to think he was a human being, just like I was.

The only thing, he was doin, the same thing I was trained to do.

Protect his country, or protect what he was supposed to protect.


It was a while before, finally the shooting stopped, and that's when my work started.

My job as pay-clerk, was to record the, the dead, everyday, the pay had to stop the minute a man was dead.

Everyone wasn't going to pay an extra nickle if they had to.

There were sixty-three bodies, lined up on one side.

And the burial parties removed the lower half of their dog-tags.

They put em in a box, and brought them over to me.

My job was to enter the name of the person.

I knew most of them.

Some of the men I knew very well.

When I finished my job, I went back to the seawall, I sat down, and I started to cry.

I never...

I never cried so much in all my life.

Finally the paymaster came over and says, "it's time for us to move on."

And that was, that for D-Day.

You know sometimes you wonder, "what the heck am I doing here?"

Ya know?

I don't have to be here.

You know going through this, and then you, you liberate a village, and then, these people come out from I don't know where.

They come out and then you know why you're there.


[cheering]

Read the history books, and the Americans won the war.

Oh sure, they, they put a lot into it, alright but, the Canadians are the ones that took the brunt of a lot of the ah, ah, attacks.

And the Canadians were always put in that position, that - because they were so good at it, they were given that job.

Maybe it's just the way the Canadians are, when they get a job, they go ahead and do it.

They say "well, w-we, we gotta do it, let's do it!"

They thought we were just a bunch of farmers.

[laughs] but those farmers turned out to be good fighting men.

In fact, we're the first regiment to reach our objective.

You know it's all over, you come home.

Uh, you sit up in bed some night and y-y-you'll l-live a little bit more of it too.

Your wife kinda gets tired of this you jumping out of bed and walking around the room and come back in in a bit, you know?

I-I don't know, ah, I'm glad I was there.

I'm glad I witnessed it.

I'd a felt terrible if I - if I hadn't taken part and did something, you know?

Everybody pulled together, it was only Joe, and Sam and Pete and Harvey.

I feel sorry for the little guy and ah, there was lots of them in the Army.

That was all they had you know?

Yeah.

We stand for two minutes.

What did they stand for?

Sixty-five years.

Their whole life.

We, we came back, we've enjoyed life, we had a home, had a wife and children, they didn't.

They didn't have any of that.

But how often do we think about it?

How often do we think about our freedom really?

You know?

How often do you think about your freedom?