Canada in the Second World War


Herbert Joseph Smith

Herbert Joseph Smith

On D-Day, Canadians stormed an 8 km stretch of beach on the coast of Normandy, France. The next day, June 7, 1944, at 9:00a.m. Herbert (Bert) Joseph Smith of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division Canadian Postal Corps landed on Juno Beach (Courseulles-sur-Mer, France).

After landing on Juno Beach, Bert traveled through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. In his wartime diary he wrote of spending several days at a time in cold wet trenches, the sound of buzz bombs over head, close calls with sniper bullets and anti-personnel bombers, and of the injury and death of comrades and friends. He also wrote of the villages and towns left in rubble, of the warm welcome Canadian troops received from civilians, and that, in Holland, people lined the streets to welcome them.

On May 6, 1945, he wrote about the “wonderful news” of “Germany’s unconditional surrender”. A few months later, on August 18, he returned to England and eventually home to Canada.

Military Career

Bert’s military career began early during the Second World War. He and his younger brother Ray volunteered for overseas service and left behind their parents and an older sister.

Bert began his service as a private and rose to the rank of staff sergeant.

His training began in Shilo, Manitoba where their training included “sham battles” and in 1943 he left for England for additional training. On June 5, 1944 he left for Courseulles-sur-Mer, France on barge #1197 LCM or Landing Craft Mechanized.

It was during his time in England that he met his wife, Joyce Summarsell, who worked as a nurse.

Medals and Badges

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal

Defence Medal

War Medal 1939 -1945

1939 – 1945 Star

France and Germany Star

General Service Lapel Pin

Calgary Highlanders Badge

Dufferin Haldimand Rifles Badge

After the War

After living in England with his wife and baby boy, Bert and his family traveled by ship to Canada in 1948. They moved to Saskatchewan for a few years and then settled in Mississauga, Ontario where they raised three children. Bert worked as a machinist at Stelco in Toronto and Joyce continued her career as a Registered Nurse.

Bert loved family and animals. He also enjoyed finding work arounds for design and mechanical problems and could leisurely solve a Rubik’s Cube within a couple of minutes.

Bert passed away after a long illness on July 30, 2004 at the age of 87.

Tribute submitted by Jennifer Miller, daughter

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What the Juno Beach 8K Walk Means to Me

Distance is the only similarity my 8 km walk has with my father’s experience on Juno Beach.  I am walking 8 km in Ontario, Canada, to honour him and I wonder what my father would have seen and experienced when he landed on Juno Beach. Unlike my father’s experience, my walk is peaceful – no injured and dead comrades and no enemy snipers nearby.