The Foundation has established and maintains a Memorial Garden, on the grounds of Le Mémorial, in Caen, France, to recall the Canadian participation in the Battle of Normandy. The Foundation has also placed a plaque in the Place de l’Ancienne Boucherie, in Caen to commemorate the liberation of the centre of the city by Canadian forces in 1944. The Foundation, with the support of Veterans Affairs Canada, sponsors young Canadians to provide guided tours of the garden in the summer months, and to elaborate on Canada’s role in the wars of the twentieth century.
On 9 July 1944 the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, supported by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, launched the attack to liberate the center of Caen, which had been heavily bombed and shelled by the Allies in the previous weeks. By noon, elements of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, supported by tanks of the Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, had reached this square and Canadian soldiers were shaking hands with jubilant citizens. By that evening the Canadians and the 3rd British Infantry Division on their left, supported by members of the French Resistance, had freed most of the shattered city.
In the weeks before Caen was liberated some 3000 of its inhabitants died under Allied bombardment, and over 3500 Canadian and British soldiers had been killed our wounded by enemy action.
Let us remember with gratitude the sacrifice all these men and women made for our freedom today.
By staffing an information desk Canadian Battlefields Foundation guides provide a visible, daily Canadian presence in the Hall of the Memorial. From there several options are offered: directions to Canadian cemeteries, landing beaches and other points of interest, free battlefield tours to interested visitors and finally, the primary purpose, which is to welcome Canadians and guests from around the world to join for an interpretive tour of the Memorial Garden.
Outside in the Garden, guides share historical information about the role played by Canadians in the the Liberation of Europe, 1939-1945 and more specifically in the Battle of Normandy and the Liberation of Caen. In describing the vision of the student designers, everyone is invited to reflect on the process of commemoration and to share the lessons of war for peace in the modern world. New in the summer of 2001, CBF guides will be available during all museum hours of operation from Victoria Day until mid-July.