The War Amps Commemorates the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

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The Lasting Legacy of War Amputees

 

On June 6, 1944, a pivotal moment unfolded as thousands of Canadian soldiers stormed Juno Beach in Normandy, in the heavily German-fortified coast of France. As the world prepares to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, The War Amps pays homage to the Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the invasion, and the resilience of those who returned home severely wounded, many missing limbs.

These were young men from small towns and the inner cities embodying the true spirit of citizen soldiers during the Second World War. Driven by patriotism, adventure, or simply a sense of duty, they enlisted with the Canadian Army, unaware that they would become the vanguard of the allied invasion of Europe.

Among them were individuals like Ron Reid, Gavin Hickey, Bob Ross, Jim Parsons, Bill Neil and Dave Ingram. Ron Reid, of Torbay, Newfoundland, suffered severe injuries upon landing on Juno Beach. Amidst relentless enemy machine gun and mortar fire, he lost his left leg above the knee.  

War Amps D-Day collage

Gavin Hickey, hailing from Durham Centre, New Brunswick, was a mere 19 years old when his regiment stormed Juno Beach. Wounded during the battle for Carpiquet, he lost his left leg below the knee and his left hand.  

Bob Ross of Niagara Falls, Ontario, was injured during heavy enemy shelling at the Battle of Hill 195, resulting in the loss of his leg above the knee. Many years later, he reflected on his experience and shared, “It was an ordeal. I don’t think I would do it again because maybe I couldn’t come back the next time.”

Jim Parsons, a local of Sherbrooke, Quebec, landed on Juno Beach on D-Day and fought his way inland. Later that year, he lost his left hand and forearm due to an injury. He received a Mention in Dispatches for his bravery in hauling his troop commander out of a burning tank despite having a badly shattered arm.

Bill Neil, from Winnipeg, and Dave Ingram, of Edmonton, Alberta, were also severely injured during the invasion. Neil, wounded in the Battle of Falaise when his armoured car was hit, lost his left arm above the elbow. Ingram lost his left leg above the knee and part of his right heel after stepping on a landmine during a sniper patrol.

When they returned to Canada, these brave soldiers became members of The War Amps, which was started by amputee veterans returning from the First World War to help each other adapt to their new reality as amputees.

Rob Larman, a Senior Advisor at The War Amps and a leg amputee himself, said, “In the Battle of Normandy, many Canadians died or suffered wounds they had to carry for the rest of their lives. As we mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, it’s important that we never forget.”

The War Amps award-winning Military Heritage documentary – Juno Beach (2 minutes) offers a glimpse of Canada’s D-Day contribution and can be found on their YouTube channel. www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj6qDSG5NkI

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