Visiting Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery & Juno Beach

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Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, some flowers are blooming

This November 10th, the eve of Remembrance Day, I’m going to take you all with me somewhere.

Let’s go to France.

Let’s retrace the steps of our brave Canadian soldiers so many years ago, from the beaches of Normandy to where so many young Canadian men now lie over the ocean on foreign soil. Foreign soil that they helped free from the German forces, where you can see the love and respect that runs oh-so incredibly deep for Canadians reflected in the way that the French tend to our dead. The cemeteries that are well-kept and in order. The tours. Ceremonies. Statues of the Canadian hero’s in small towns in Normandy.

My Dad has often commented on how beloved Canadian are in many parts of Europe, thanks to the heroic efforts of our young men in World War 2, but I’ve come to realize after standing on the very soil that they fought on that it’s something that truly can’t be comprehended in its entirety, not even when you are right there.

This is Juno Beach, not only one of the most famous battles in any war, but also one of Canada’s greatest victories. In the D-Day assault that saw five beaches invaded, the Canadian infantry had pushed further inland than any other company.

white sand pathway of Juno Beach

It seems so idyllic and peaceful, yet the reminders of what happened here remain, such as German bunkers still  standing in the sand dunes.
German bunkers in the peaceful Juno Beach

It was hard to fathom what happened on this beautiful beach. Hard to watch my kids standing at the ocean pondering what we had just learned in the Juno Beach Centre and wondering if they really understood the enormity of it all.

two kids standing near the ocean

Hard to imagine what the world would be like if our Canadian troops had failed.

young boy standing near the ocean

Completely by accident, we ended up at Juno Beach on the anniversary of D-Day, June 6th of this year, making it all the more real. There were ceremonies and wreaths galore, and many more visitors that usual. If you are ever in France, this is a place that every Canadian should visit at least once in their lifetime.

Juno Beach Statue with wreaths

A short drive away from the beaches of Normandy lies Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, the next place that any Canadian that finds themselves in France needs  to go.
the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

A total of 2,048 soldiers lie here and with the exception of one French and three British graves, these are all young Canadian men.

Boy looking at Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery
Let’s let the enormity of that number sink in.

Over two thousand graves of Canadian soldiers that gave their lives for us.
Close up of graves in Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery with red flower blooming

Two thousand graves that surround the Cross of Sacrifice in the middle of it all.

thousand graves in Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

Over two thousand soldiers that never came home. Never raised families. Never saw the light of another day. Never saw their children again.

Close up of graves in Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery with red flower blooming

I can’t lie, I stood here and cried. I had tears in my eyes the entire time we were here. My family was lucky, all three of my great uncles that served came home. Mike Andreychuk was wounded and returned, with Mike Goran and Mike Bureyko returned safely as well.

Red flowers near the graves on Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

While the enormity of two thousand graves might have sunk in now, the actual number of Canadian killed in the entire Second World war is 45,000.

The total number of Canadian soldiers killed in combat is well over 100,000.

Red flowers near the graves on Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

Let’s all make sure to take a moment today, tomorrow and every day in thanks for their sacrifice. Drop some extra donation money into the poppy containers. Attend a ceremony tomorrow or talk to your children about it.

wreaths on Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

Whatever you may do, however you spend tomorrow, let’s make sure that we never forget.



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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. Cathy Andreassen says

    Thank you so much for posting these photos. My Great Uncle is buried there. The youngest of 10 children – I think of him every year on Nov. 11 – what would his life have been like had he survived? I can’t even fathom the horrors they witnessed. Thank you for sharing your visit with us.

  2. Audrey Haraldson Lansdell says

    My cousin lays buried in Korea – I remember everyday

  3. Sherry Waddle says

    We were privileged to visit Bény-Sur-Mer and Juni Beach this summer… It was a very humbling and emotional day.❤️

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      Something that every Canadian that is in France needs to take time to visit.

  4. Sherry Waddle says

    We were privileged to visit Bény-Sur-Mer and Juni Beach this summer… It was a very humbling and emotional day.❤️

  5. Lynn1917 says

    I just googled up lard pastry recipes as I just started making pies again after some 20 years and my mother and grandmothers always used lard and I made  tortiere pie and my son and his wife were in heaven.  My daughter in law could not get over the taste of the pie crust so this weekend I am making an apple pie for a lunch with them and using lard again.

    However, I came across this visit to France and it reminds me of my grandfather’s brother who lies at Vimy, age 20 who died on the first morning of the assault on Vimy on April 9, 1917 and he and 3 of his cousins from the same community all died in France.  My son visited his grave in 2008 and brought back a bit of soil and placed it on his mother’s grave in Sudbury Ontario.   His parents were too poor to ever go and find his burial site and he was one of the very few whose body was recovered and buried along with 2 other men.  Most of them went into a mass grave because of the sheer numbers, the lack of help and the weather…freezing rain for days.

    I have his last letters home to his mother before he died and the notice of his death from the military.   Canadians now have no real sense of the numbers of men buried in those sites in Europe and I think about him all the time and am very proud of my son and grateful for taking them time to pay his respects and place poppies on his grave in 2008.  He said he will never forget what he saw and has the greatest admiration, respect and compassion for all those Canadian soldiers, many of whom were only 18 or 19 years old.

  6. The Kitchen Magpie says

    It was an amazing, humbling experience, one that I hope my children don’t ever forget.

  7. Bonnie Durocher Brazeau says

    How fortunate you were to actually be standing where they stood for all of us. God bless them all.

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