Breakout from Juno: First Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign, July 4–August 21, 1944
On July 4, 1944, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division won the village of Carpiquet but not the adjacent airfield. Instead of a speedy victory, the men faced a bloody fight. The Canadians advanced relentlessly against Hitler’s finest armoured divisions, at a great cost in bloodshed. Initially, only the 3rd Division was involved. But in a couple of weeks two other Canadian divisions — 2nd Infantry and 4th Armoured — along with a Polish division and several divisions of I British Corps came together as First Canadian Army.
While their generals wrangled and planned, the soldiers fought within a narrow landscape extending a mere twenty-one miles from Caen to Falaise. The Canadians won a two-day battle for Verrières Ridge starting on July 21, costing them 1,500 casualties. More bloody battles followed, until finally, on August 21, the narrowing gap that had been developing at Falaise closed when American, Polish, and Canadian troops shook hands. The German army in Normandy had been destroyed, less than 50,000 of about 400,000 men escaping. The Allies suffered 206,000 casualties, of which 18,444 were Canadians.
Breakout from Juno is a story of uncommon heroism, endurance and sacrifice by Canada’s World War II volunteer army. It pays tribute to Canada’s veterans at a time when many Canadians, young and old, are actively engaged in acts of remembrance.
Published by Douglas & McIntyre, 2011: 513 pages.
Winnipeg Free Press
Victoria Times Colonist
Rocky Mountain Outlook, Canmore, AB
Appropriately, Zuehlke closes the book with his visit to Juno Beach one recent May, where gentle waves roll across the gleaming sand, and tourists mingle in and around the Juno Beach Centre, an architecturally stylish edifice to Canada’s Normandy achievements and sacrifices, distinguished by the statue Remembrance and Renewal by Canadian sculptorColin Gibson.
Many visitors are school kids. The author rightly observes, “It is children who are the hope of remembrance…. It falls on our shoulders to keep the stories and the history alive.” In that, Zuehlke does a superb job.