As another anniversary of the landing on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 is marked on the calendar, we should pause to remember some of those men who showed remarkable courage on that day but have since been forgotten. Sixty five men received immediate awards for valour under fire on Juno Beach: 53 to men of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, 7 to those in the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, and 3 to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.
Lance-Sergeant Walter Douglas Armstrong of the Regina Rifles is one of those who showed great determination as he faced his first test of combat. Despite heavy machine gun fire on the beach, he crawled forward until he located the enemy position that was pinning his unit down. Then he led two of his riflemen to clear out the enemy weapon trench, which allowed his company to move forward into one of their objectives, a building on the battalion’s flank. Armstrong was wounded in the leg during this advance, but did not reveal his injury when asked if he had been hit. After taking out a German light machine gun position, he then crawled back to his company under fire, pin-pointed another machine gun position and then crawled to a position when he could support his unit with fire while it did a flanking movement against further enemy opposition. Armstrong remained commanding his men, leading them forward, until later in the day he finally was ordered to go back to the beach dressing section for medical attention by his company commander. It was men like Lance-Sergeant Armstrong that ensured the Canadians captured their objectives on Juno Beach that day and advanced inland
T. Robert Fowler, author, Canadian military history