In commemoration of 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion’s participation in D-Day, 50 parachutists representing Canadian Army Divisions from across Canada, conducted a parachute insertion into Ranville, France on June 5th,with other parachutists from France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Canadian jumpers boarded various aircraft from the French, British, American, and Canadian Air Forces’ at Évreux-Fauville Air Base and took to the skies, reminiscent of actions that occurred 70 years prior. “This jump is a way to acknowledge Canada’s historical efforts during WWII and is something I will cherish forever,” said LCol John Errington, the Airborne Contingent Commander. “It is incredible what our veterans accomplished here, they jumped in the dark to face of a hostile enemy and their bravery and sacrifices should never be forgotten,” he continued.
Following the successful jump, the paratroopers participated in a wings exchange ceremony with their British, French, and American colleagues outside a picturesque church in Breville, France. During the ceremony, a few lucky paratroopers were selected to receive their British jump wings directly from His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales. “Receiving my British jump wings from Prince Charles is one of the greatest highlights of my career,” said Cpl Richard Mousseau with the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22ND Regiment. “To be here with the Veterans who actually jumped on D-Day is overwhelming, especially because my father Marcel, a veteran who stormed Juno beach and fought here recently passed on… every time I jump I look over my right shoulder and know that he is here with me.”
After the wings exchange, the Canadian Airborne Contingent jumpers attended a memorial at the crossroads at le Mesnil. There, a monument stands honouring the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion’s heroic efforts in helping to liberate Europe. The crowds in attendance were honoured to have Canadian WWII Airborne Veterans, John Ross, Merv Jones, and Robert B. Sullivan, lay wreaths at the memorial, honouring the significance and importance of Canadian Airborne soldiers sacrifices and accomplishments during D-Day and the subsequent fighting.
D-Day was one of Canada’s most significant and successful military engagements, and a pivotal moment of the 20th century. D-Day and the campaign that followed in Normandy would help signal the beginning of the end of the Second World War.The jump, wings exchange, and memorial was organized as part of the 70th Anniversary commemoration activities being conducted in and around Normandy, France.
By Captain Brian Kominar, Public Affairs Officer, Canadian Army News