Eve of D-Day. Ciné and still photographers of No.3 Public Relations Group. (L-R): Sgt. E.R. Bonter, Lt. C.C. McDougall, Sgt. L.E. Weekes, Lt. F.L. Dubervill, Sgts. C.E. Roos, W.G. Grant, D.A. Reynolds. Credit: Frank Dubervill/Canada. Dept. of National Defense/Library and Archives Canada.


5 JUNE 44

The advance detachment set sail with the assault invasion fleet for the Norman Coast of France.

All coys. furthering preparations for move. Service chevrons issued to all ranks. Eight O.R’s sent to Press Censorship unit. Today the British Amplifier units move leaving only the Cdn units in Richmond.
OC units to SK (21 A. Gp. Southwick) for special instructions on their work, British try to move Amp. jeep with them, and this we oppose. Readjusting loads and equipment in vans.

Four jeeps with trailers to 27 Pall Mall to bring out remaining Warcos, who included Fred Griffin (Toronto Star) M. Desjardins (C.P.) R.L. Sanburn (Southam Papers) J.A.M. Cook (Sifton Papers), A. Wood (Daily Express and Australian papers), H.D. Ziman (Dally Telegraph) and E. Worth who replaced Broderick for Still Pool Photo.
Cdn., British and American Warcos were briefed by the B.G.S. (Brig. Neville) at a combined meeting in the British offices in the Wentworth Golf Club.
The Cdn. Warcos were then taken to their quarters at “Poden Hale” and “Green Gables” where the garden, its roses and moon gate formed a very beautiful but unwarlike background for impending events.
Following dinner SHAEF Overseas Visas were issued to the Warcos and Lt-Col. Malone briefed both the Warcos, Conducting and F & P Officers on the probable situation following D day, both on the far shore and England.
Film and Photo arranged for D day coverage with five teams, each covering separate coastal areas. 

The unit was C.B’d and officers carried sidearms, but it was amazing how little suspicion the usually well informed Warcos had that D Day was tomorrow, or that within hours the paratroop attack would commence.
Actually at about 2330 hrs , part of the red lighted towing planes and gliders flew low over the area under the heavy clouds.
Rome had fallen this day and the news crammed the papers and the minds of the Warcos, many of them veterans of the Sicilian and Italian campaign. The Russians were at Jassy.
No invasion comment by BBC or German radio could be detected up to 0200 hrs.

6 JUNE 44

“D” Day. Personnel from the Adv. Det. 3 Cdn. P.R. Gp. arrived in small groups (in Normandy)on the beach with the following fmns. sometime during “D” Day:
HQ 3 Cdn Div

Capt. P. Labelle, OC Det; (Major R.W.R. Oliver, DADPR, 2 Br. Army;) Warcos R. Monro of the CP; M. Halton, CBC; C. Lynch, Reuters;


Capt. W.B Cornforth, Warcos Marcel Ouimet, CBC; Ralph Allen, Toronto Globe & Mail; and Lieut. F.L. Duberville and Sgt. Grant, W.G., of the F &P Sec; along with Gnr. Treganza, M.W., a driver.

9 C.I.B.

Lieut. W.H. Naylor, Cond. Offr; Warco Lionel Shapiro NANA; Lieut. K. Bell and Sgt. Grayston, A.W., of the F &P Sec; and Pte. Williamson, W.F., driver. Also with this 9 Bde. party were, Capt. J.C. Wilson, 2 i/c Det; Capt. C.C. McDougall, O.C., F &P Sec., Warco R.W. Clarke, BUP; and Field Censors Capt. Adams (Br); Capt. Duckett, (Cdn); Lieut. Higgs, (RNVR) and Lieut. Oliver (USAAF).

7 C.I.B.

Capt. J.H. Golding, Warcos W. Stewart, CP; J. Willicombe, INS; Lieut. D. Grant and Sgt. Roos, C.E., of the F &P Sec. and Pte. Currie, L.L., driver.


Many adverse problems were encountered on landings, due to enemy mined beaches and heavy weather conditions on beach, necessitating landings very late in the evening in two Cases. After having assembled at a rendezvous point at Main Beach Signal Office, the early arrivals set up a temporary office and waiting room in the small hotel in Bernieres-Sur-Mer. A great deal of copy was filed from this temporary HQ on “D” Day.

Lieut. D. Grant and Sgt. Roos, C.E., who were among the first arrivals on the beach-head, had very narrow escapes. Sgt. Roos moved with the Regina Rifles, who suffered heavy casualties on the beach. While with one of their Coys, his camera was broken and would not function due to sand particles. For the remaining time he carried wounded and dead under the direction of the Regina Rifles’ Officers.


Prepared copy or Warcos Clarke, Ouimet, Allen and Stewart along with first movie and still pictures taken by Lieut. Duberville and Sgt. Grant, were sent (at approximately 1200 hrs., “D” Day) by an LCI returning to England. The method for transmitting this copy to the LCI was done by wading out through mine-infested waters and by the “Duks” going out to the craft anchored further astream. Additional copy was sent by Naval Despatch Letter Service at 1600 hours and 2300 hours.

Warco Ross Munro had previously sent copy back by a destroyer returning to England.
It was later learned that the Canadians had the first five stories from the beach-head, sent by Warcos Ouimet, Munro, Clarke, Stewart and Allen, and the first still and moving pictures taken by Lieut. Duberville and Sgt. Grant, to “scoop” the world.


“D” night was spent at the original site, picked by HQ 3 Cdn Div., which moved from the location at 1900 hrs., “D” Day; Capts. Wilson, Cornforth, Adams, Duckett; Lieuts. Duberville, Oliver, Higgs and Warcos Munro, Clarke, Ouimet, Allen and Shapiro were billeted in the open under trees and in slit trenches. The remaining PR personnel, Major Oliver, Capt. Labelle, Capt. Golding and Warcos Willicombe, Lynch, Halton and Stewart were billeted in a private house at Graye-sur-Mer. Lieut. Naylor and Capt. McDougall along with Gnr. Treganza and Pte. Williamson spent “D” night holed in with the Canadians on the beaches at Bernieres-sur-Mer.

“D” night was characterized by heavy German bombing, steady flak from our guns and naval bombardments on the beaches and inland.


Advice of landing of Allied ExpeditIonary Force in France received from the C.O about 0800 hrs. German radio had carried the news about Paratroop landings at 0600 hrs., but nothing was mentioned by B.B.C. until the regular 0900 newscast which revealed the whole story and included messages from Gen. Eisenhower and the London representatives of German dominated peoples. The official announcement contained the statement that Gen. Montgomery “commanded all land forces, including British, Canadian and American troops”. The original wording had been planned as “British, American and Dominion Troops” and the last minute inclusion of the word “Canadian resulted from a strenuous protest lodged through the Chief Censor by Lt-Col. Malone. Canadian troops were mentioned by 1000 B.B.C. newscast. Warcos still in England with Conducting Officers and F &P teams rushed off in Jeeps to southcoast hards and posts but, on the whole, the news available was dissappointing as the assault vessels were on the far shore and port and loading personnel taking advantage of the enforced temporary lull for a well earned rest. Late in the fine, warm, sunshining day the C.O. announced that elements of Canadian forces were furthest inland of all assault forces and later Brigadiers of the 8th and 9th Cdn. Brigades confirmed that on “D” Day they had reached their objectives.

The first five stories from the beach-head were all Canadian as were the first movie and still photos of the assault to reach England. Amp units received first mission taking 150,000 leaflets to SK.

Personnel went armed to the teeth.

(Please credit Library & Archives Canada)

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About me

Dale Gervais has been actively researching and documenting the history of the Canadian Film & Photo Unit since 2006. Dale recently retired in September, 2018, after over 36 years with Library & Archives Canada. Dale now works as an independent researcher, with experience in audio visual holdings, video production and more recently doing Archival textual document searches, and photographic scanning.


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70th Anniversary D Day, JUNE 6th, 2014

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