D-Day Series: RCN and Operation Neptune
Valour Canada and the Naval Museum of Alberta Society partnered to produce this video describing the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) invaluable contributions to the invasion on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Operation Neptune was the name of the English Channel-crossing portion of the larger Normandy invasion (deemed Operation Overlord).
This 16 minute video is organized into the following five chapters:
1. Overview (0:00) LINK
Dawn. June 6, 1944. D-Day. Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious invasion in history, is about to begin. This video gives a description of the battlefield prior to the attack and also tells how the Canadian Navy played an important role both in the English Channel and on the French coast.
2. Stop the Uboats (begins at 2:55) LINK
Churchill said that the only thing that scared him during the war were the U-boats. This video describes the problematic German U-boats and how the British and Canadian Navies (Operation Neptune) worked together to find, track, and destroy the underwater menaces prior to D-Day.
3. Clear the Mines (begins at 6:27) LINK
“There is no doubt that the mine is our greatest obstacle to success” – British Admiral Bertram Ramsay. This video describes the size and effectiveness of the German minefield that guarded the D-Day beaches and how the Allied Navies worked together to prepare a route through which the invasion could occur.
4. Cover the Beaches (begins at 9:49) LINK
The Canadian Tribals played a significant role in eliminating the German Navy’s major surface warships’ threat to the invasion fleet. This video describes the RCN Tribal-class destroyer squadron and their mission of clearing the English Channel of German ships before, during, and after the invasion. A battle between Canadian Destroyers, Haida and Huron, and four German boats near Brest on June 9 is discussed. Also covered are the two Canadian Destroyers, Algonquin and Sioux, that were tasked with shore bombardment at Juno Beach.
5. Land the Troops (begins at 13:01) LINK
Shortly after dawn and following a forty-minute naval barrage at Juno Beach, the first Canadian soldiers came ashore. By noon, the beach was held by the Canadians and millions of tons of supplies were being brought ashore. This video describes the first waves of the invasion and the tanks, artillery, vehicles, and supplies that were soon to follow.
Educators: Click here for a Lesson Plan that explores the RCN on D-Day: Operation NEPTUNE or click here for a Lesson Plan that explores D-Day.
Valour Canada has a wide variety of D-Day specific articles, from on-the-ground,
in-the-air, or at-sea perspectives, in our Military History Library.
Main photo: Landing craft approaching the beaches in Normandy (Credit: Forces.gc.ca).