Portrait of Harry Legrand, May 1945.Harry Legrand
Harry Legrand (third from right, bottom row) with his crew after the victory in Bremen, Germany, May 9th, 1945.Harry Legrand
Diploma issued to Harry Legrand for his service in Holland, 1945.Harry Legrand
Harry Legrand in Gaspesie, Quebec, July 2010.Historica Canada
"The beach we were going to was in Normandy, Juno Beach. All hell broke loose at 9:00 in the morning and we made a landing. Oh, it was rough."
Most of our training was getting ready for the invasion of Normandy, which we didn’t know at that time, but after we got aboard ship, the barges, they opened up sea loaders and they told us our destination: France. It was supposed to be on D-Day and the scheme was named [Opertation] Overlord. The beach we were going to was in Normandy, Juno Beach. All hell broke loose at 9:00 in the morning and we made a landing. Oh, it was rough. All that night we spent a rough voyage on the LCT, landing craft [tank], that’s tank landing craft. We got tossed around quite a bit and a lot of boys got seasick. I tell you, there wasn’t a word said; it was so quiet. The morning came and we made a landing. Our tank was waterproof for eight feet; and I was in the artillery, 14th Field [Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery] at that time. The name of my tank was ‘Defiant,’ Dog 2 Troop.
Well, we spent a terrible night, no sleep. Had some canned, heated soup to drink and the next morning, we got bombed, anti-personnel bombs and flares dropping down with a little parachute, and we had to dig in and got mortared. We were inland about seven miles. We were supposed to take Caen in a week’s time; and we were there for longer than that. We had a hard [time at] Bayeux, and all these places to take. We lost some vehicles there too. We lost a lot of men.
We kept on going all along the north shore to liberate different ports, Le Havre and Boulogne and all of Calais, you can name them. Dieppe, we didn’t take that one, we left that to the 2nd [Canadian Infantry] Div. [Division] because they were with everyone dying; and I know what could have happened to those boys when they landed there. So we went to Antwerp and Belgium, took that port. And then on from there, I was in Tilburg. We stayed there to fix our vehicles. We were in a heck of a shape and got ready; we were there a couple of weeks.
We had moved on to Belgium and Brussels, and then the chief place was Ghent at that time. Antwerp, we were taking that port and then we kept on going all up to Holland. Took Malden and Nijmegen, took the bridge that night, Nijmegen bridge. And the next day, we kept on going into Nijmegen. It was around Christmastime, we spent there. After that, we were up to the northern part and we were told from Arnhem, to come down and we was going to take a venture into the Siegfried Line, the Scheldt Estuary. The Battle of the Bulge they called it. Yeah, we joined up with the Americans.
Anyhow, we got over the Siegfried Line in the wintertime, even had to paint our tanks white. Got out of that and back up we come, into Holland again. Anyhow, they sent me back. I got back to my regiment. Eight days leave they gave me; and I was getting ready to go to Scotland to get aboard ship.