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Canadian paratroopers remember D-Day 50 years later

The Story

It's a few minutes past midnight, Tuesday, June 6, 1944. As most of the Allied forces wait nervously for dawn, D-Day has already begun for Slim Sklalicky and Lionel Trudel. They're paratroopers with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, assigned to drop inland and seize bridges and causeways. In this CBC news clip 50 years later, the two vets say high winds and the "ack-ack" of enemy fire made for a tough jump. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Evening News
Broadcast Date: June 6, 1994
Guests: Slim Sklalicky, Lionel Trudel
Reporter: Belle Puri
Duration: 4:49

Did You know?

• Two sets of paratroopers descended on Normandy on D-Day. Americans from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions would land on the western side of the invasion zone, and the British 6th Airborne -- including the 1st Canadian Battalion -- would land on the eastern flank.
• Over 13,000 U.S. paratroopers, more than 6,000 British and over 500 Canadians jumped on D-Day.
• Navigation errors sent one team of American paratroopers into the English Channel, where they drowned. Few others landed where planned.
• To avoid enemy fire, mid-air collisions and clouds, many of the American paratroop planes flew high above or far below the designated altitude. They also sped up to avoid becoming easy targets for anti-aircraft flak; all around them were tracers from German guns, lighting up the sky in shades of red, orange, blue and yellow. The result was jumps that were far off the drop zone and widely scattered, making it hard for troops to reach their objectives.
• British and Canadian paratroopers had better success, capturing or destroying key bridges. The Canadian battalion met a French teenager who was out cutting communications lines, and she agreed to lead them to the bridge they were charged with bombing. Once they arrived she stayed to watch, getting impatient while the explosives were placed. "Are you going to do nothing?" she asked. Finally the bridge was blown up and she was placated. (Source: D-Day, Stephen E. Ambrose)



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