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15 October 2014
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Timeline - 1939-1945

Fact File : Juno Beach

6 June 1944

Theatre: North West Europe
Location: The Normandy coast west of Caen.
Players: Allies: 1st Corps of General Miles Dempsey's 2nd Army, including 3rd Canadian Division and 48th Royal Marine Commando Battalion. Axis: General Friedrich Dollmann's 7th Army including 21st Panzer Division (under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's personal authority).
Outcome: Establishment of a Canadian beachhead at Juno beach.

'0900 hours. Café 100 yards off the beach is open and selling wine.' - Diary of the Queen's Own Rifles, 6 June 1944

The main objective for D-Day itself was to capture the town of Caen. The Canadian forces landing at Juno beach were to join the British forces from Sword beach in attacking Caen, about 18km (11 miles) inland; they would also take Carpiquet, an airfield west of Caen. Meanwhile the beachhead would be consolidated by 48th Commando, working their way along the coast to link up with forces from Sword.

The landing was initially costly: infantry battalions arrived ahead of tank forces, exposing them to German gunfire. However, a beachhead was rapidly established and linked with the British forces at Gold beach.

In the east, 48th Commando failed to link up with the forces at Sword beach; at the end of the day a three-kilometre wide corridor still existed between the Sword forces and the merged Gold/Juno beachhead. At the head of this corridor was 21st Panzer, a German tank division. Although the division's commander knew of the airborne landings overnight, he could only order his troops into battle when orders were finally received from Rommel at 10am. The division would play a larger part in days to come.

Field Marshal Montgomery's objectives for Operation Overlord have been criticised as unrealistic; equally, his tactics have been criticised as over-timid. More sympathetic analysts have argued that good generalship requires both inspirational leadership and tactical caution. Either way, the mismatch between objectives and achievement became apparent before Caen and Carpiquet, which would not fall for more than a month.

The fact files in this timeline were commissioned by the BBC in June 2003 and September 2005. Find out more about the authors who wrote them.

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