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Published: August 3rd 2019
25 years ago Doug was chosen by the Department of Veteran affairs to officially represent Canada at D-Day ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary Of D-Day.
Doug was interviewed by two local newspapers - The Ottawa Citizen and the Aylmer Bulletin - what follows is want Private Kelley had to say about the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944: Aylmer Bulletin
On June 2nd we were given a dagger, assault boots, a gun, a piece of paper and 50 French francs.
On June 3rd I and 31 others were on a landing craft heading to Normandy.
We were supposed to land on June 5th but the landing was delayed by poor weather forcing us to spend an extra night in cramped quarters on the English Channel. We had to eat our emergency rations.
We arrived about 4 am but had to sit in the water and wait until the infantry went in. At about 4 in the afternoon on the 6th the ramps were let down and we got to shore (Keith here - I assume dad drove a munition or supply truck on to the beach).
It was a great big show. There was a
lot of shelling and you could see smoke.
The tanks went ahead sinking down into about 4 or 5 feet of sand. The beach had not been cleared and there were dead chaps all over the place.
The roads were blocked so we waited there until about 6 or 7 pm.
They put us into a wheat field for the night which actually turned out to be a mine field. One of our trucks which had extra bags of flour went up like an atomic bomb. We drove the rest of the trucks out of the field with the doors open, one foot on the gas and the other on the running board ready to jump.
You never forgot the smells and tastes. I can smell a German cigarette from 40 feet away.
You never forget seeing the first dead people.
I remember taking up a load of ammunition on my own, still 19 years old, waiting for it to be picked up. It was getting darker and darker and on the other side of the orchard was Germans. I said to myself “ if I ever get outta here alive I will never
leave Aylmer “. Ottawa Citizen
I remember as if it were yesterday.
Our colonel was killed, our captain was killed, our two sergeants were killed. I can still remember all the names and hometowns.
One cemetery near the beach - Bény-sur-Mer contains the tombs of 2,044 Canadian soldiers.
I helped take the first bodies of Canadian soldiers there for burial.
All it was , a farmers field and they started to bury fellows. The bulldozer would dig a great big trench and bury them in their blankets with their tags.
The bodies were later exhumed for proper burial with honours. D-Day plus 18,250 (75 years) - Danielle and I in Bayeux - 27th - 30th
Danielle and I wake up on the 28th and head up to the main building of the estate to have breakfast and plan our day. A few cafes au lait and an above average breakfast service later we head out to The Juno Beach Centre “ the “ Canadian Museum on the D-Day beaches at Coursuelles-Sur-Mer.
Doug will be with us today both in spirit and to a certain extent in body -
Hazel had kept a few of Doug’ ashes (the rest are inurned at the family burial plot at Bellevue Cemetary where our family plot motto is “first come first serve”). Hazel reluctantly let me take a few in a small jar - I packed the jar in my suit case- in one of my best socks safley placed in a shoe for the trip overseas - hoping I never got selected by customs for a bag search.
We have three goals today - find Doug’s memorial “brick” for Hazel at the Juno Beach Centre, scatter Doug’s ashes onto Juno beach, and find the Canadian WW2 cemetery where some of Doug’s fallen friends are resting.
We hop into our car and program our gps - “M”. This takes us about 10 minutes - neither Danielle nor I have ever had this luxury - on these small and roundabout filled routes M is essential. It takes us about an hour to get to the centre - we stop mid route for a mandatory baguette with butter, cured ham and emmantel cheese - a good 18 inches - baguette still warm - mine was gone before we even got to the
We arrive at Juno Beach Centre pay our senior’s rate entrance fee and spend just over an hour in the museum. The hosts are young, enthusiastic and bilingual Canadians - the exhibits and projected screen presentations bring us back in time - albeit in black and white.They are informative, sobering very effective.
I ask one of the Canadian hosts where I could find Private Kelley’s memorial brick - I had the kiosk number and brick number but for the life of me could not find them. The host explained that the kiosks were directly outside the entrance but that the bricks weren’t actually real brIcks - they are small square engravings representing bricks ?
I find Doug’s “Brick” and get a picture.
We then hike down to the beach, stroll along the sea water’s edge until I find the perfect spot (where I won’t frighten the other tourists) and then I scatter Doug’s ashes.
We struggle back up the beach - in very loose sand - the same ones the tanks sunk into - to our car, program “M” and after getting lost a few times stumble upon the Canadian Cemetary at Bény-sur-Mer. Again
very emotional and well worth the struggle to find it.
We head back into beautiful Bayeux and have a late supper and chat with a young Dutch couple - they go out of their way to write down WW2 sites we should visit in Holland And around Amsterdam.
We head back to our room and tuck in for the night.
The good - thanks Hazel (Mom) for the two newspaper articles - the Cemetary at Bény-sur-Mer was even more emotional for me knowing Dad was one of the first people there.
The bad - ”M” is starting to act up a bit - she got us lost while trying to find the Canadian Cemetary. She also seems to be throwing in the odd wrong advice on what exit to take on some of the roundabouts. She also got us lost for over an hour whilst trying but never finding the German Cemetary at La Cambe.
I am starting to worry she may be a descendant of Hal from A Space Odyssey fame.
The ugly - at breakfast I attempted to make my own expresso. I put my cup under the dispenser, pushed
Juno Beach Centre
Look ma - I found it
what I thought was the espresso button and was shocked to see steam shooting out of a side arm directly onto the 18th century hardwood floor leaving a very obvious water mark - I was very pleased that I did not see a damage charge to our room.
The funny - dad’s “ brick”, the espresso machine and the photo of me scattering dad’s ashes.
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