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New film to honour Canadian D-Day soldiers who died freeing French

Many Canadian soldiers lost their lives on June 6, 1944. Experts say the film will pay tribute to the role they played in the landings

Royal Winnipeg Rifles troops in their landing craft just before arriving on Juno Beach (left) – and filming starts on tribute to the Canadians Pic: RWR Museum Archives / Charlotte Bailleul and Frédéric Sashin

A group of D-Day experts are creating a film to honour Canadian soldiers of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles who freed Calvados villages on June 6, 1944, at the cost of many lives. 

The Association Maple Leaf of Putot-en-Bessin – where many Canadians died and others were captured, to be murdered later by the SS – is creating the short film to retrace their footsteps and highlight the important role they played alongside American GIs. 

Historian Frédérick Jeanne said the group were passionate about D-Day and took part in re-enactments and “decided to pay tribute to the Canadians to give an alternative view that is close to their hearts”.

They had to find the uniforms and other hardware – including two Sherman tanks – and got backing from the last survivor, Rifleman Jim Parks, 97, who had to swim ashore on D-Day after his landing craft was sunk by a mine.

Filming vital yet overlooked role of Royal Winnipeg Rifles in D-Day. Photos: Charlotte Bailleul and Frédéric Sashin

It is hoped to show the film in 2024, the 80th anniversary of D-Day. 

Funds to start filming were raised via local councils, firms and Leetchi crowdfunding - you can make a donation here.

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