Storming Juno (2010) 

 

 

 

Director:     Tim Wolochatiuk.

Starring:     Benjamin Muir (Lt. Bill Grayson), Kevin Jake Walker (Hartigan), Craig Cyr (Sgt. Armstrong), Alden Adair (Sgt. MacPhee), Drew Dafoe (Stork), Alex Dault (Rex), Taylor Katz (Pte. Eddie Mallon), Jesse Nerenberg (Tpr. William McGinnis), Kyle Orzech (Rfn. Louis 'Apple' Brunning), James Patrick Pettitt (LCA Captain), Michael James Regan (LCA Soldier / Mike), Anthony Rella (Rfn. Chan Katzman), Joshua Ritchie, Jeremie Saunders (Nells), Llyane Stanfield.

Made for TV movie.

story of Canadian invasion of Juno Beach, Normandy, on D-Day

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

The day before D-Day. 10:30 pm, June 5, 1944. Over the English Channel.

The narrator says: "We’re the first unit to go in. 110 men of C Company. 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion."

Corporal Dan Hartigan, C Company,1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. "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."

The beaches of Normandy are Sword, Gold, Utah and Omaha. The Canadians will be facing one of the most heavily defended beaches on the line. It’s called Juno. "This is my story. This is our story."

The parachutists are going to be dropped deep into enemy territory nine hours before the rest of the invasion forces hit the beaches. There were 7,000 ships stretched out across the English Channel. The largest sea-born invasion in history.  "And me, a kid from Sydney, Nova Scotia, way out in front."

10:34, June 5, 1944, HMCS Prince David. Lt. Bill Grayson, 7th Platoon, A Company, Regina Rifles, 3rd Canadian Division. Lt. Grayson says they have been on this ship for three days and many of the men are seasick. His platoon is composed mostly of Prairie boys from Saskatchewan.

Tank Sergeant Leo Gariepy, 1st Hussars, Canadian 6th Armored Regiment. Leo is from Montreal, Quebec. He’s a PS, a Permanent Soldier. His tank is one of those floating tanks created especially for D-Day.

Dan Hartigan gets ready to jump from the plane.

11:55 pm, June 5, 1944, HMCS Prince David. The men learn that they are going to Normandy. Lt. Grayson and his men will be landing on Juno Beach, sector Nan Green, and their target is a little fishing villa, Courseulles-sur-Mer.

Juno Beach is manned by 8,000 enemy troops.

The parachutists land in France. Dan knows that their target is a German garrison near the town of Varaville. They are to take out the garrison’s main gun. But Dan doesn’t know where the hell he is. Dan gets bombed and wounded by the Canadian Air Force. He is joined by another man, Mallon, from his unit. They miss the rendezvous point.

June 6, 1944 D-Day. The naval ships start firing on the coastal defenses.

6:17 am, June 6, 1944. Landing Craft Tank LCT-109. An officer tells Sgt. Leo: "The bloody Brit won’t let us launch." The seas are too rough. Sgt. Leo begs the officer to go ahead and let them chance the rough seas. The officer agrees.

The infantry boards the landing craft that will take them to the beach. The tanks launch into the sea. Airborne soldiers Mallon and Dan spent the whole night dodging enemy patrols. They finally reach the German garrison at Varaville.

7:21 am, June 6, 1944, Varavile, Normandy. As Mallon and Dan approach the garrison a Canadian yells out for them to get down. The Germans start firing away at the soldiers. Canadian Major MacLeod’s dead. Only 17 of the parachutists made it to the garrison.

The Canadians can’t make progress because they are held down by the fire from pill boxes. Mallon and Hartigan decide to scout out for a weak place in the German defenses. Hartigan gets into the house converted into an enemy barracks and he finds where MacLeod and his men were killed by an explosion from the main artillery gun. He uses his binoculars and sees the pill box and then the main gun. But how do they get passed the pill box to get at the main gun? He examines the walls and finds a way in.

Less than half the tanks were able to launch into the water. The heavy seas delayed the tanks arrival on the beach. Sgt. Leo’s tank starts taking on water.

7:33, off Sector Nan Green, Juno Beach. The landing crafts come under German artillery fire. The naval bombardment left the enemy positions unscathed. As the door of the first landing craft opens, German machine guns start killing or wounding every man standing. Some of the men make it out without injury. Five minutes into the landing, most of the platoon were dead or wounded. More men die or are wounded on the beach itself. They use a Bangalore to destroy some of the barbed wire, but not that much.

8:20 am, D-Day. Only 15 minutes in and half the men under Grayson are down. They were trapped on the beach until a lone tank surfaced from the sea. Sgt Leo’s tank was the first one to reach the beach. They take out the pill box machine gun.

A sniper takes out one German on a machine gun and Grayson from close range takes out the other German on the gun. An artillery gun is taken out by use of grenades. The tank’s machine guns takes out another machine gun nest.

Grayson enters a bunker. He slowly moves along a connecting tunnel. He shoots an oncoming German soldier.

The beach invasion continues. And thousands of paratroopers have dropped into occupied France.

8:23 am. Varaville Gatehouse. Hartigan reports to Sgt. McPhee that he’s found a way into the garrison grounds. There’s a small gap between the wire and the north wall. McPhee agrees on the plan to get up close to the German positions. Mallon is going up on the roof to direct the firing.

Grayson and his men capture the German command post in the bunkers.

8:34 am, June 6, 1944, Varaville Gatehouse. Hartigan and McPhee get behind the pill box. They also get behind the main gun. They use a motar to fire rounds amongst the German artillery. The Canadians capture the garrison and take more than 80 prisoners.

The Canadians make it into the village and the fighting is street to street and house to house. They take the village and then keep on going. Leo’s tank takes a rest stop in the French countryside. They get their next orders. The CO wants them to rendezvous at a crossroads a mile up the road. Furthermore, their tank is the only one left from their unit.

8:41 am, June 6, 1944. A sniper fires at the tank and the order is given to drive up to the farm house and blast out the second floor room on the right. A civilian woman come out with her baby and they don’t fire. A Canadian, Sgt. Leo, goes up the stairs after the sniper, opens the door and fires. He kills a woman, probably a French woman, who went with a German boyfriend who had been killed earlier in the day. Sgt. Leo feels bad about the death of the female.

8:45 am, June 6, 1944, Sector Nan Green, Juno Beach. The Canadians have broken through the first line of German defenses on Juno Beach. Many Germans have become prisoners of war. Katzman wants to kill a prisoner because he is laughing, and Katzman's friend, Apple, is dead. He is stopped by another Canadian soldier.

The Regina Rifles became the first Allied unit to secure a beach head on D-Day. Of the 110 men of A Company, only 17 made it off Juno Beach.

Of the 16,000 Canadians who landed on D-Day, almost 1,000 men were killed or wounded.

What follows are interviews with Canadian veterans of D-Day. . . .

 

 

Okay, rather short film about the Canadians around D-Day.  Then they have a documentary section of listening to some Canadian veterans of D-Day.  There are lots of guys in the movie and sometimes it's hard to keep them straight.  This is compounded by constantly switching scenes amongst various groups:  paratrooper, infantry and the tank corps. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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