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The story of the Regina Rifles on D-Day

The Story


They were farmhands, university grads, small-town Indigenous boys. But as different as their backgrounds were, four years of training made the Regina Rifles a tight regiment who trusted one another with their lives. Their first big test was D-Day, when they were among the first to storm Juno Beach. In this retrospective, some of the remaining Reginas remember the bloody toll D-Day took on their unit. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television Special
Broadcast Date: Nov. 11, 1994
Reporter: Holly Preston
Duration: 9:18

Did You know?


• The Regina Rifles were part of the 7th Canadian Brigade invading Mike sector on the western side of Juno Beach just after 8 a.m. on D-Day. They were accompanied by the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and preceded by a tank unit -- the 1st Hussars -- and its duplex-drive (DD) amphibious tanks.
• The Reginas were divided into four companies designated "A" through "D." Each company numbered between 125 and 150 men.
• D Company lost the most men on D-Day. Just 49 -- half their number -- reached the beach after their landing craft hit a mine.
• The first task for the Reginas was to disable German strongpoints at Courseulles-sur-Mer. With several machine-gun positions, anti-tank guns and ample shelter, these were not easy targets. With help from the tank unit, the Rifles destroyed the gun positions and moved beyond the beach.
• The next task for the regiment was to clear the village of Courseulles-sur-Mer. Clearing their segments was a simple feat for B and C Companies, but A Company had a harder time of it. They had to return to a cleared zone where Germans had sneaked back to their gun positions.
• That accomplished, the companies pushed inland to Reviers, where they were charged with taking bridges. They reached it sometime in the afternoon and then advanced south.
• According to Veterans Affairs Canada, the Regina Rifles suffered 108 casualties on the first day of fighting in Normandy. By comparison the Royal Winnipeg Rifles had 128 and the Queen's Own Rifles, on Nan Sector, lost 143 to death and injury.
• The Regina Rifles' history begins in 1907, when it was formed as the 95th Regiment in Regina. Several reorganizations, amalgamations and name changes later, it became The Regina Rifle Regiment in 1924. The regiment fought in both world wars.
• In the late 1980s the regiment's name was changed to The Royal Regina Rifles. Today it is a reserve infantry unit in the Canadian Army.


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