Two Sarnia veterans are returning to France this week, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
Joe Edwardson, 95 and Roy Hare, 94, each participated in the historic raid and subsequent campaign across Northern France. They’re scheduled to attend the June 6 ceremonies at Juno beach, where some 15,000 Canadian troops landed in 1944.
Edwardson chatted with fellow soldiers of the Regina Rifles as their landing craft was battered by rough seas that morning. They were among thousands of Allied troops that trained for months in the English country-side in anticipation for that day, he said.
“I don’t think we were all that scared, just plain curious,” said the retired pipefitter. “When the shells started coming in, you knew you were involved.” As the small craft was rocked by nearby explosions and violent waves, the decision was made to unload the soldiers before reaching the beach. As the gate dropped a barrage of machine gunfire immediately killed many of the Regina Rifles, Edwardson said.
Those that made it out were met with deep, frigid waters. Weighed down by 60 pounds of equipment, Edwardson started sinking. He credits his life to an unknown soldier that grabbed him before he disappeared under the waves, he said.
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