Remembering D-Day: These brave Canadians saw the action

They were impossibly young — some of them still teenagers — when they went overseas to put their lives on the line in the Second World War.

Each of them played a role on June 6, 1944, whether it was landing on the beach or participating in the fight from the air.

Here are their stories.

 

A veteran of the Tribal Class Destroyer HMCS Huron, Alex Polowin participated in some of the most decisive naval battles of the war.

On D-Day, his group of destroyers played a vital role in protecting vulnerable allied landing craft from enemy vessels. Never far from his mind was the fate of his relatives living under Nazi occupation in his birthplace of Lithuania.

 

A Stuart Light Tank Gunner Operator with the Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment, Hugh Buckley and his team landed on D-Day and advanced swiftly into territory held by the fanatical 12th SS Panzer Division.

On the second day of the invasion, his tank is believed to have advanced the farthest of all Allied forces in Normandy.

 

Major (ret’d) Jim Parks landed on D-Day as a Rifleman with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

Landing moments before the main assault wave, he recounts the harrowing experience of disembarking in deep water and advancing ashore under enemy fire.

 

George Chow

George Chow joined the Canadian Army in his home town of Victoria just two months after his 19th birthday. He remembers his time as an anti-aircraft gunner during The Second World War.  

On D-Day, he was one of the first behind enemy lines and came under both heavy bombardment and friendly fire.

 

 

Ed Peck

Ed Peck. Credit: Global News

Ed Peck was a member of the Canadian Scottish Regiment during The Second World War. He remembers being stuck in Canada as a basic training instructor when he really wanted to join the fight in Europe.

He asked his father, Cy Peck, a WWI soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, this favour: use his influence to get him into the fight. He landed in Europe during the invasion of Normandy, serving until he was injured by a bullet in The Netherlands.

 

Jaye ‘Pete’ Edwards

Jaye Edwards. Credit: Global News

At 100 years old Jaye “Pete” Edwards remembers her time as a member of the Air Transport Auxilary (ATA). She served as a pilot undertaking hundreds of missions to resupply the Royal Air Force with planes after others were damaged or lost in service during the Second World War.

She flew 20 different types of aircraft, from bombers and supply planes to the legendary Spitfires, which were integral to the Allied assault on D-Day.

 

James ‘Stocky’ Edwards

Stocky Edwards. Credit: Global News

A fighter pilot and Canada’s top Ace in the Western Desert Campaign, Edwards was active in nearly every theatre of the war in Europe.

On D-Day, he flew in support of Allied bombers making way for the landings in Normandy. Over the course of the war, he would shoot down 21 enemy aircraft in 373 missions.

 

Norm Kirby

Norman Kirby. Credit: Global News

Norm Kirby was too young to enlist, so he secured special permission with his father’s blessing. He landed in Normandy on D-Day with the North Shore Regiment.

He went on to fight in Belgium, Holland and finally Germany, rising through the ranks from Private to acting Platoon Commander.

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