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A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Canadian National Memorial service, Juno Beach

Published on 6th June 2014

Prime Ministers, Monsieur Le Premier Ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs.

My wife and I feel the greatest pride in being able to join you here, on Juno Beach, to remember and honour the Canadian bravery and sacrifice that was witnessed here seventy years ago, and many thousands of miles from home.

Aux premières heures du 6 juin mille neuf cent quarante-quatre (1944), plus de quatorze mille soldats canadiens ont débarqué sur les plages de Normandie. Ils avaient été précédés par les courageux dragueurs de mines de la Marine Royale Canadienne et au-dessus de leurs têtes était déployé le sixième groupe de bombardement, entièrement composé de Canadiens.

They had come from every part of Canada to fight as brothers-in-arms with the British and Allied Forces in what was the largest and most ambitious amphibious operation in military history.
 
As some of you here today will know only too well, success that day came at great cost.  Almost four hundred Canadians lost their lives on D-Day, and many more died in the long days and weeks of fighting which followed.  Un très grand nombre de courageux Françaises et Français ont également aidé les Alliés au prix de leur vie. N’oublions pas non plus l’héroïsme et l’esprit de sacrifice de la Résistance. C’est à eux tous que nous rendons hommage aujourd’hui.

Many of us here had the good fortune to have been born after the war was over.  But how much we should have wished to have known those who sacrificed their lives here in the service of others.  Alas, we were only ever able to know them as names, inscribed on memorials and echoed in the recollections of those to whom they belonged and who knew them well.
 
To those veterans and their families gathered here today, those who died are far more than just names.  They were your friends, your brothers, your husbands, your fathers.  Some of you fought alongside them, uncertain of the outcome but certain of the cause - despite determined and almost overwhelming opposition.  For you, each name on a headstone Brown, Mersereau, Alexander, Woronchuk - conjures up a memory of someone who was much loved and is greatly missed.
 
I cannot begin to tell you how humbled we have been by the personal stories of D-Day which my wife and I have heard over the past two days, and indeed those of the many veterans we met in Canada just two weeks ago.  We all owe so much to you the veterans of D-Day and the Normandy Campaign and yet time and time again I have been struck by your modesty and your determination first, and above all, to honour those who did not return.

Alors que nous sommes rassemblés ici à Juno Beach à l’occasion du soixante-dixième anniversaire d’une bataille qui a changé le cours de l’Histoire, nous nous devons de rendre hommage à ceux de vos camarades qui sont morts au combat. Leur courage, leur force d’âme et leur esprit de corps furent indispensables à la victoire des Alliés.

But, if I may say so, it is equally important that we pay tribute today to you the veterans of Juno Beach and of the campaign that followed.  As we remember those who fell, we remember also the bravery of those who fought and returned.  Each one of you exemplified the spirit of "true patriot love" which for so long has been the hallmark of Canada's sons and daughters.  And each one of you can truly say that on this day seventy years ago, and in the weeks that followed, you stood on guard for Canada and for the freedom of its Allies. 

C’est du fond du cÅ“ur, avec une immense fierté et une profonde gratitude, que nous saluons vos faits d’armes et ceux de tous vos camarades qui ont péri.