A Look Back at June 6: The Gillan Family

Thousands of people attended the 70th Anniversary ceremonies this year, many of whom have a personal connection to D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. The Gillans of Vancouver, British Columbia are a perfect example of Canadian families who embarked on a pilgrimage this year to honour and commemorate their own personal connection to Normandy.

Four descendants, spanning 3 generations of Gillans travelled to Normandy to honour D-Day veteran, Major J.D.M Gillan — his son, Major (ret’d) Robert Gillan; grandson, Lieutenant Bryan Gillan, a firefighter in Vancouver, and great-granddaughters Kyra and Alysha, ages 16 and 19.

Gillan Family 06 05 14 (5)

Major J.D.M. Gillan landed with the Canadian Scottish Regiment on June 6th, 1944, at 0832 hours. He went on to fight at Falaise, Calais, and the Leopold Canal where he was wounded and sent home. Major Gillan was mentioned in Cornelius Ryan’s book The Longest Day, and in Mark Zuehlke‘s books Holding Juno and Terrible Victory. His name is memorialized on a Commemorative Brick at the Juno Beach Centre.

Read more about their pilgrimage in the Vancouver Sun.

We were honoured to host the Gillan Family at the Juno Beach Centre for the 70th Anniversary commemorations!


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 jbca@junobeach.org.

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