Juno Beach, where locals honour the memory of Canadian D-Day veterans

More than 14,000 volunteer soldiers from across Canada – fighting alongside British and US troops – seized the beaches of Normandy on D-Day to help liberate the region from German occupation. Eighty years since that fatal day in June 1944, a handful of local inhabitants have made it their mission to preserve and pass on the lesser-known stories of Canadian soldiers.

At the break of dawn on June 6, 1944, more than 14,000 Canadian soldiers landed or parachuted on Juno Beach – a 10-kilometre stretch of French coastline in Normandy. Their objective was simple, albeit deadly. Braving intense fire from German defenders, these volunteer servicemen were to take back control of the beach and move inland to liberate the city of Caen from Nazi occupation.

After over a month of intense and bloody fighting in an area that barely covers more than 20 kilometres in total, Canadian and British Allied forces finally liberated Caen on July 9, 1944.

A total of 359 Canadians were killed on D-Day alone and more than 5,000 lost their lives during the Battle of Normandy. Most of them have been laid to rest just a few metres from the battlefields, in two separate cemeteries.

As Normandy gears up to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, final preparations are being made at one of the Canadian cemeteries to pay special tribute to these fallen soldiers.

Aside from organising the annual commemoration events, people like Liversage and Guérin have also worked every day to ensure that the memory of Canadian soldiers who took part in D-Day is kept alive.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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