France / Cemetery
The cemetery at Bény-sur-Mer, located a few miles from Juno Beach, is one of two Canadian military cemeteries in Normandy. In total they hold 4800 graves of soldiers killed during the fighting in the summer of 1944. The tombstones demonstrate the importance of Canadian participation in the liberation of France and Northwestern Europe.
The Canadian War Cemetery called Bény-sur-Mer (but actually located in the town area of Reviers), overlooks Juno Beach where the 3rd Canadian Division landed on 6 June 1944. The cemetery contains the remains of over 2000 Canadian soldiers who fell during the first weeks of the Battle of Normandy, notably during the bloody confrontation with the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend before the liberation of Caen on 9 July.
A second Canadian cemetery in Normandy is located in Bretteville-sur-Laize, south of Caen. This is the final resting place of 2800 Canadian soldiers who fell during the very laborious advancement of the 2nd Canadian Corps towards Falaise between July and August 1944.
Like in other Commonwealth war cemeteries, the light coloured graves are arranged in rows of tombstones. Each slab bears the number, name and surname of the soldier, his age, his rank, the name of his unit, the date of his death, as well as the emblem of his regiment (by default a maple leaf for Canadian nationals). If appropriate, a religious symbol indicates the soldier’s confession. Families were given the opportunity to add a personal thought or message. These affectionate words illustrate the magnitude of the human tragedy that accompanied the death of each of these men.