Personnel of Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commando “W” in the Juno Sector of the Normandy beachhead, France, 20 July 1944. (L-R): Able Seamen A.H. (Art) Petty, W-2 Party; D.S. (Don) Murphy, W-3 Party; unknown; Able Seaman Dan Kroshewsky, Leading Seaman J.P. (Joe) Adams and Petty Officer Douglas E. McIntyre, all of W-2 Party.Credit: Lt Richard Graham Arless / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-180815
Armoured vehicles disembarking from a Landing Ship, Tank under the direction of Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commandos on Juno Beach, Normandy, France, July 1944.Department of National Defence/Lt. Arless, RCNVR
Sherman tanks disembarking from a Landing Ship, Tank under the direction of Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commandos on Juno Beach, Normandy, France, July 1944.Department of National Defence/Lt. Arless, RCNVR
Juno Beach, Normandy, France, July 1944.Department of National Defence/Lt. Arless, RCNVR
Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commando personnel in and around a former German fortification on Juno Beach, Normandy, France, July 1944. From left to right: Bill Ross; Art Petty; P.J. White; John Forsyth; W. Murphy; Art Watt.Royal Canadian Navy
"You had to have permission from your parents to join the service if you were under 18. And I harassed my parents long enough that they gave in."
I joined the navy in 1943; I was 17 and a half. At that time, you had to have permission from your parents to join the service if you were under 18. And I harassed my parents long enough that they gave in and signed me off, type of thing. Anyway, that’s what happened there. I joined the navy in London, Ontario. Even though I’m from Toronto, I joined down there because apparently Toronto was kind of plugged up with new entries. So I went down there and they took me in, no problems. And that’s how it all started.
From there, I went to the East coast - all the naval types went down there; to Digby, Nova Scotia anyway - for my basic training. There was also some basic training in London, Ontario, consisted of maybe, oh, for five, maybe six weeks at the utmost down there, just trying to get the feel of the service.
From there, we were shipped to Halifax, HMCS Stadacona, and it was there at that time that I had just received my basic training and I was looking for a ship to sign on. I went to the recruiting building down there and they had some openings for combined operations. That sounded rather interesting to me so I signed on for combined operations.
From there, we had a bit of a leave. So I went home, had a little bit of a leave with my folks and then they shipped us off to Scotland. We were known as "W Commando". We trained at various parts of Great Britain, Scotland, ended up at the very last on the Isle of Wight. We were assembled there of course and then D-Day came along. We expected to be used as part of the invasion force but as I read into items that I have pertaining to our outfit, it was established even before that we would not be utilized for the initial landing on D-Day, June the 6th .
We relieved a British outfit who worked on the beaches, assumed all the responsibilities which was looking after landing craft. We had to signal them in and make sure that whatever they were containing were unloaded, whether it was supplies, vehicles, troops or whatever. It was our duty to make sure that the landing craft were unloaded and off the beach before the tide went out and left them high and dry, in which case they would be vulnerable to enemy attack either by air or by shelling, which we experienced.