Last November, 16 year old William Fraser Webb contacted us with a very specific request. He was looking for information about the North Shore New Brunswick’s B Company, in order to retrace the route taken by his late great-grandfather, Sergeant David Webb. Sergeant Webb was born in Nova Scotia and enlisted voluntarily in the North Shore New Brunswick Regiment during the Second World War. Once in Europe, he fought throughout the battle of Normandy. We gave his great-grandson a hand, as best we could, in his research, and then received a surprise…
One cold, grey, morning this spring, many months after our first correspondence, William Webb, map in hand, loaded down water bottles, backpacks, a tent and sleeping bags, appeared here in the hall of the Juno Beach Center. He and his father, Andrew, were bound and determined to walk, as soon as possible, towards St-Aubin sur Mer, and start their 125 km hike through the fields and villages of France to reach Orbec, where Sergeant Webb was injured on 25 August, 1944.
Here are some extracts and photos from the journal William kept while following in his great-grandfather’s footsteps after 71 years…
“Saint-Aubin was the first stop on our journey. We started at the landing day beach, and we were lucky, because it was low tide, and we had an excellent view of the strong point at Saint-Aubin, which is what the soldiers of the North Shore would have seen.
Next stop, Tailleville, an old fortified village that the North Shore liberated the evening of June 6th. Afterwards, the regiment liberated Douvres-la-Délivrande, a very warm and welcoming village… we are setting off again after a quick stop at a market full of flavors for our next objective, a radar station that was fortified and garrisoned by the Germans that the North Shore captured. On the road we passed by some fields, and we were surprised to see four old bunkers and artillery positions still intact.
This evening, we visited Carpiquet airport (now modernized), where there was a particularly bloody battle for the regiment, because the Hitler Youth regiment stationed in the area put up such a fierce defense.
The two days later, at Mesnil-Patry, we met Roger and Raymonde, who were children during the Occupation; they still enjoy excellent health. They were very welcoming, and we shared as many stories as we could! In the end, they were happy to have met us, because we were the first “descendents” of the North Shore, the regiment that liberated their village, that they had met.
This afternoon we continued to walk to Bretteville-le-Rabet, near Falaise, and passed through Sassy (which is about 30 km away from Bretteville-le-Rabet) and finally reached Falaise, a city that was bombarded very badly due to the strong German position there.”
“Our experience in Normandy is something my Son and I will remember for the rest of our lives. Many thanks to the team at the Juno Beach Centre!”
Capt. (Ret.) Andrew Webb, R22R, Bosnia 1993-1996.
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.