On this day seventy five years ago the world held its breath as the Allied armies landed on the shores of Normandy France to liberate Europe from the scourge of the Nazis. We have heard the stories and we have been introduced to the hero’s of battle. The story I want to tell you is one uniquely Canadian and deserves much more of a profile than it got then or even now.
This is the story of the Farmer John’s more about who they were and what they did in a moment. The term Farmer John’s was a derogatory term that professional soldiers gave to these fresh faced rural farm boys in the main. They would be in the vanguard of the D Day invasion.
Who were they? Farmer Johns were the Regina Rifles Regiment. These soldiers would have to prove their worth on Juno Beach on D Day. They were to establish a beach head and dig in and hold it to prevent the Germans from overrunning the beaches and driving the Allies back into the sea.
What people don’t know is these farm boys from Saskatchewan not only landed they established their objective and were the first off the beach and heading inland in pursuit of the enemy. By the end of day one they were more than eight to ten miles inland. The German counter offensive struck back at a little dot on the map called Norrey-en-Bessin. The Farmer Johns were engaged by veteran professional German soldier and some Waffen SS with armor.
This part of the story reminds me of the Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer story. You know, Rudolf looked down upon and not given a chance to prove himself. That is until opportunity came knocking. Not only did the stop the German counter offensive, they held of the heavy armor and ensured the line was not breached.
Had the Canadians stumbled the German military would have been able to split the Allies and the beach was not secured. This story of Canadian achievement is as important as Vimy Ridge as the town they held while outnumbered and outgunned was a pivot point for success on the western front,
Today seventy five years later make sure we pass this story on and at the same time whisper a thank you to those who gave so much for our freedom today.