Recent History – 2004
June 7, 2004, By Gary Rusak, Daily News Staff
It was 60 years ago, but for Dawson Creek’s Bud Melin it seems like just yesterday.
“You just remember everything,” the current president of the Dawson Creek branch of the Canadian Legion said reflecting upon his landing on Juno Beach in France. “Between our shells and their shells it was really pretty hectic.”
Melin and his regiment of communications and wireless experts landed a mere two days after the beginning of the Normandy invasion. Historians point to D-Day as a key strategic move in freeing northwest Europe from Axis power.
“We actually landed right on the beach,” said Melin. “You see these pictures where they are wading around in the water. But, we had a young English naval officer and he said ‘I’m going to put you right up there on the beach’ and he did.”
The regiment knew of the causalities that the initial landing had suffered; they knew what lay in store.
“It was something,” he said. “There is none of that you forget.”
It took the Canadian troops more than a month to move the nine miles to secure the city of Caen.
“It was a literally just a bunch of rubble when we got there,” he said. “We were there for quite a long time before things started to break loose.”
Many of Melin’s friends and colleagues never made it back from the front; fewer still are alive today to commemorate the anniversary.
“Not too many of them left,” he said. “They were a good bunch.”
The world commemorated the landing in Normandy on Sunday, with a ceremony attended by veterans and world leaders alike. Locally, on Friday, South Peace MLA presented Melin and Pouce Coupe Legion president Gilbert Gunter with an official proclamation declaring June 6th Juno Beach Day throughout British Columbia.In presenting the proclamation, Lekstrom also shared his thoughts on the sombre occasion.
“Juno Beach was an important event,” he said. “It showed the commitment of our men and women who were fighting on our behalf so that we can have the free and democratic society that we enjoy today.”
He also reflected on Melin’s personal account.
“We hear the stories and try to comprehend what these men and women went through, but, I don’t think we can fully grasp it,” he said. “We can never forget the people that fought on our behalf in world wars and different wars around the world.”