D-Day, June 6th, 2015

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Excerpt from J.E.R. McDougall field diary…

9th of June 1944
McDougall field diary (at Cranbury):
On the afternoon of Wednesday the 7th we had received 600 feet from Sgt. Bill Grant. The night of Wednesday the 7th, at the American theater at 35 Davies St., the theater was packed with senior American officers. There were also the censors and, representing Canada, King Whyte, Sgt. Stone and myself. We sat through three or four thousand feet of rather dull American stuff, having to do mainly with preparations and embarkation.

Then came Grants stuff. And it was good. It was bloody good. All through the theater you could hear people whispering to each other and muttering as good shot followed good shot. When it was all over there was much excitement and planning on how to get it to Washington the quickest possible way. I left in the middle of the flap, happy and wondering how long our invasion luck can last. There’s nothing left for us to scoop the world on except Tokyo.

The next night, Thursday the 8th, Sgt. Reynolds came in (to Cranbury). I honestly hadn’t expected ever to see him again, because parachute jumping doesn’t seem the healthiest job in the world, especially on D-Day. He looked like a ghost, and apparently had had quite a rough time of it. He’d shot 100 feet of 16mm Kodachrome, and two rolls of 120 stills. He lost a 35mm camera and tripod. He decided to jump with only his 16mm Victor and his Rolleiflex, and to send the Eyemo and tripod in by glider, where he thought they would be safer. However, the glider was hit by flak and crashed, and both the camera and tripod are dead. Though the poor guy was just about out on his feet, I got him to work on his dope sheets and after much sweat, blood and tears we got the stuff off to London by special DR. Then I took him down to the mess where he told his story to the enthralled Warcos. He told the story well, and the Warcos were tickled to death.

And so we got not only the first movies and stills of the seaborne landing, but also the first and only paratroop stuff. So ended a good day.
Conducting officer Bill Naylor said that Sgt. Roos had had a narrow escape. His craft hit a mine and sank. Roos was one of three survivors, and through some miracle or other was able to save his camera and tripod. The camera, of course, was drowned, and we’re sending him another tonight.


9th June 1944
Would you please convey the congratulations of us all at #1 CFPU to Lieut. Dubervill and Sgt. Grant for the grand performance in connection with the m/n films and stills.

Their exploit has reflected great credit on CFPU and on Canadian enterprise generally. Their material, as they are doubtless aware by now, scooped the field and is receiving much favorable comment everywhere. The quality and action are excellent.

Of the initial 700 feet of film which arrived, 400 passed the censor and were despatched by air to the Newsreels in New York. Thus, Canadians at home will have an opportunity of seeing at the earliest opportunity what their lads are doing.

Gordon Sparling, Capt.
Canadian Film and Photo Section
P.R. Services.


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Dale Gervais has been actively researching and documenting the history of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit since 2006. Dale retired in September, 2018, after almost 36 years as a Film Conservator at Library & Archives Canada.