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Summerland holds D-Day commemoration

Community holds ceremony for 80th anniversary of D-Day landings

The mood was sombre in Summerland on June 6 at an event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing.

The invasion was massive and is the largest naval, air and land operation in recorded history.

On June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy, and within a few days, 326,000 troops, 50,000 vehicles and around 100,000 tonnes of equipment had landed.

Able Seaman Richard “Dick” Edward Norris, who was present at D-Day, lowered the flag for the 80th anniversary commemoration.

In June 1944, he was assigned to Landing Craft Large (LCI L) No. 285, one of the first to reach Juno Beach on D-Day. He was the gunner-assistant on the forward 20m Oerlikon gun.

Norris jumped into the water from a large landing craft and was the lead, trailing a floating guide rope which the embarking soldiers used to guide them from ship to shore.

He was a teen at the time.

“Our job, with 30 ships in all, was to land troops and armour faster than the Germans could respond,” he said. “Overhead were round-the-clock bombing missions, countless tons of ammunition were delivered per raid, along with long-range naval bombardment, inshore salvos by destroyers and frigates. 

“We were all expendable. Like all landing craft, each one had one shot only at disembarking the troops on the beach. Some LCl (L) were damaged, sunk, burned out and abandoned. The beach was littered with wrecks.” 

Three days later, floating pontoon docks were floated in place and larger ships delivered troops. 

John Dorn of the Summerland Legion said D-Day was the beginning of the end of the Second World War in Europe, although the war there did not end until May 7, 1945. 

But the invasion took a significant tone as 4,000 Allied troops were killed and many others were injured in the invasion.

There were two Summerland D-Day casualties. William Robert McCutcheon died on June 6, 1944, and Herbert Arthur Murfitt died on June 9, 1944.

Norris was at Juno Beach in June 1999. In 2019, he received an honour from the French government for his part in the landing.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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