In 2014, Elena Haratsaris, a young woman from Caen, Normandy, who was living in Québec met with Conrad Landry and his wife and shared their history with us:
« Conrad’s life story began on the Îles-de-la-Madeleine in 1917, during a time when the islands were isolated and self-sustained. There were no salaries, only the necessity to work hard for the needs of the entire year. Fishing, livestock, agriculture, gardening, all to eat once winter came around. Then the war began, and there was no future for the men of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine other than enrolling into the army: to travel, they said, to see the country and earn a salary. They left, four of them together. A few weeks of training in Valcartier, a few months in New Brunswick, a few days of leave to say goodbye to their friends and family in the isles and they were off, crossing the Atlantic, already scared of being hit by a torpedo or machine gun fire. They arrived in England in 1941 and there completed three years of training.
Years went by and, while rumours of an Allied invasion were swirling, no one knew where or when it would occur. On June 5th, 1944, they were told to load the boats and bring their gear. They went aboard; there were boats as far as eye could see. The announcement followed: the men were to land on French soil the next morning, in Normandy. A pit formed in their stomachs.
Arriving the morning of June 6th in Bernières-sur-Mer with the Régiment de la Chaudière, Conrad managed to avoid stepping on a land mine while disembarking the landing craft, unlike the man on his left. He found shelter behind a stone wall to avoid German gunfire.
Conrad then jumped ahead to bring me to Carpiquet, where for five days and five nights the fighting never stopped. The soldiers were at the end of their strength. On the 5th of July, the day before the taking of Caen, Conrad’s vehicle was hit and blown up. He was projected out of the vehicle and received a blow to the head that cost him an eye; other internal injuries would manifest themselves later. But he was alive and Caen was now the target. The town was bombed incessantly and Conrad remembers perfectly well that, though the bombings may have helped the soldiers on the ground, they destroyed a city and the civilians who had not fled.
A few weeks of convalescence followed, after which the war continued for him in the Netherlands and in Germany, finally ending May 8, 1945.
Conrad went back to England where he immediately married Joan, whom he had met before D-Day. He was sent back to occupy Germany for a few months. The newlyweds left afterwards for Conrad’s native land, the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. »