Remembering the 75th Anniversary of D-Day - June 6, 1944 - The Battle of Normandy

Today marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the Battle of Normandy during the Second World War. On June 6, 1944 and during the long summer that followed, men from all over the world came to fight in Normandy to defeat Nazism and re-establish freedom. D-Day would be the opening chapter of the Battle of Normandy which raged until late August 1944 and was a pivotal step in the liberation of Western Europe and the end of the war.

On June 6, 1944 soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Poland and Australia, along with some 14,000 Canadian soldiers came ashore at the beaches of Normandy in occupied France. Thousands of Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force service members also took part in Operation Overlord, as the massive Allied assault was code-named.

On D-Day, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed on Juno Beach. The Canadian assault troops stormed ashore in the face of fierce opposition from German strongholds and mined beach obstacles. The soldiers raced across the wide-open beaches swept with machine gun fire, and stormed the gun positions. In fierce hand-to-hand fighting, they fought their way into the towns of Bernières, Courseulles and St. Aubin and then advanced inland, securing a critical bridgehead for the allied invasion. The victory was a turning point in World War II and led to the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

The price they paid was high - the battles for the beachhead cost 340 Canadian lives and another 574 wounded. John Keegan, eminent British historian who wrote Six Armies in Normandy, stated the following concerning the Canadian 3rd Division on D-Day: “At the end of the day, its forward elements stood deeper into France than those of any other division. The opposition the Canadians faced was stronger than that of any other beach save Omaha. That was an accomplishment in which the whole nation could take considerable pride.”

We currently do not have record of any Albert County men killed on D-day, a number however were killed during the Battle of Normandy, including two brothers born in Hopewell Cape. Major Ronald Bennett, Black Watch (The Royal Highland Regiment of Canada), and his brother Lieutenant Harrison Bennett, Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, who both laid down their lives for Canada in Normandy, 75 years ago, in August 1944. They are both buried, about 10 rows apart, in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bretteville-sur-Laize in Normandy.

Major Edwin Ronald Bennett was mentioned in Despatches, 1st Bn., Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. He was born in Hopewell Cape on May 4, 1917. He was killed in action on August 5, 1944 at the age of 27. He was the son of Capt. Ronald V. Bennett and Elva I. Bennett, of Sackville, New Brunswick. He was married to Dorothy Janet Bennett, of Montreal, PQ. They had no children.

Lieutenant Henry Harrison Bennett, Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Machine Gun), Canadian Infantry Corps was killed in action on August 14, 1944 at the age of 24. He was born in Hopewell Cape on February 10, 1920. He was the son of Capt. Ronald V. Bennett and Elva I. Bennett, of Sackville, New Brunswick.

They were the nephews of Prime Minster RB Bennett. RB Bennett was said to have been extremely proud of his nephews decision to serve in the Canadian Army, and was devastated to hear of their passing only weeks after visiting him at his home in Juniper Hill.

They did not grow old, we that were left grow old
Age has not wearied not the years condemned.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We have remembered them.

ARE YOU OUR NEXT JR. HISTORIAN?

The Albert County Museum is looking for a Senior High School or University Student who has a passion for history, to play a key roll at the Museum this summer as our Jr. Historian. This position is bilingual and the candidate must apply through Young Canada Works at: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/funding/young-canada-works.html  

In addition, you can also send your resume to d.ross@albertcountymuseum.com 

About the position: This is a unique opportunity for a dynamic, self-motivated individual to be a vital part of the Albert County Museum and RB Bennett Commemorative Centre. To help manage its artifact collection, offer educational outreach and be part of a dedicated interpretive staff in telling the story of the People of the Tides and showcasing Albert County's native son, Hon. RB Bennett, 11th Prime Minister of Canada.

The candidate will directly help the Manager with the day to day museum functions, and assist in the development of interpretive programming and exhibits. Strong organizational, supervisory, interpersonal and oral/written communication skills are mandatory, as well as strong social media skills, and speaking before small and large groups. Bilingualism is expected.

This will be an excellent opportunity for a potential candidate to build a strong skill set in all fields of museum and curatorial aspects for a career in museum/heritage and related fields. The Albert County Museum has a wide focus of history which encompasses exhibits from first nations, to the earliest Acadian Settlers in 1699, the Expulsion, through the height of the maritime shipbuilding, Confederation, to both World Wars, and later. The museum also celebrates Canada's 11th Prime Minister RB Bennett which lends itself to an excellent opportunity for a candidate with more political leanings. Visit www.albertcountymuseum.com 

On This day 90 Years Ago RB Bennett Became Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada - October 11, 1927

At the first Conservative Party Convention
11 October 1927
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada decided to hold a national party convention on October 11, 1927, to choose a new leader and set a new party platform. This would be the first time the Conservatives would hold such a convention.

The Conservative convention was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and there were six candidates at the start. R.B. was one of them. It took two ballots to declare a winner, who needed to receive a majority of the votes. R.B. was that winner. After the results of the second ballot were read, each of the other candidates made their way to the microphone to officially withdraw from the race in the old tradition of making the vote unanimous. Besides selecting a leader, the party also reshaped the planks of its platform and adopted twenty-two resolutions marking the change perceived in the political landscape.

As the leader of the federal Conservative party, R.B. was also now the leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the House of Commons. He had a huge job ahead of him. He set out to rebuild the party into an efficient political machine that could lead the country.

Introducing the Keynote Speaker at the 6th Annual RB Bennett Day - July 2nd, 2016

This Saturday, July 2nd, is our 6th Annual RB Bennett Day and this year we're celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Bennett becoming 1st Viscount Bennett, of Mickleham, in the County of Surrey and of Calgary and Hopewell, in the Dominion of Canada. We were extremely lucky to get Dr. Christopher McCreery, co-editor of "The Authentic Voice of Canada, R.B. Bennett Speeches in the House of Lords, 1941-1947", to come and talk on RB Bennett. His book on Bennett fits so well with the theme of this years event. So who is Dr. Christopher McCreery? Here is a brief biography. 

Dr. Christopher McCreery (Photo from Wikipedia) 

Dr. Christopher McCreery is the Private Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and the Executive Director of Government House, a position he has held since April of 2009.

One of the Commonwealth’s foremost experts on orders, decorations and medals, Dr. McCreery has served as the advisor to the Federal Government and a number of Provincial and Commonwealth governments on matters related to honours. He has also regularly been consulted on the role of the Crown; reserve powers, protocol and the historical position of the monarchy in Canada.

He holds a doctorate in Canadian political history from Queen’s University, is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy, is National Historian for St. John Ambulance and is active with a number of other volunteer organizations.

Dr. McCreery’s publications include more than 50 articles and 14 books. In 2010 he was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen.

You can read more on his Wikipedia entry here.