The First Juno Beach Maple Leaf Flies in Canada

| January 18, 2021

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The staff of the Juno Beach Centre Association communicates with many passionate and generous donors throughout the year. Today, we would like to pay tribute to Brenda Cathrea, who has been a regular donor since 2013!

Recently, Brenda has supported the Legacy of Honour Veteran interview video program. Her interest originates with her father, Sergeant James Neil Cathrea. James served in Normandy and Northwest Europe with the 8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars).  

Sergeant Cathrea and his fellow recon troopers were the eyes and ears of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. Mounted in Mark IIIA Humber Armoured Cars, their role was to scout ahead and on the flanks of the division for enemy forces and to determine the lay of the land.

Arriving in Normandy in early July 1944, the 8th Recce first deployed as dismounted infantry. They held positions to free up infantry battalions for attacks or to help give the soldiers a respite from the front. Later in the campaign, the regiment resumed its mounted reconnaissance role, leading the division towards the Seine River and north to the Channel ports, including Dieppe.

James Cathrea survived the war but passed away in 2015.

The role of reconnaissance regiments in Normandy and beyond is little-known. The Juno Beach Centre is grateful to Brenda for donating her father’s beret, binoculars, medals, badges, papers, and photograph scrapbook. With these items, the museum can feature this part of the Canadian story more prominently. The 8th Recce Regiment’s path through Normandy is virtually mapped at the museum.

Earlier this year, Brenda Cathrea became the first to sponsor a Canadian flag flown at Juno Beach. After the flag arrived, she sent us this message:

It was a great honour to receive it and to know that Dad’s flag was the first one flown on Juno Beach.  Thank you for this. Dad would have been very proud.

Brenda wants to fly the flag on her back deck, facing a beautiful ravine. Although the deck is not yet complete, she recently sent us an update:

Before all the leaves were gone, I decided to take the best pictures possible on Sunday. It seemed appropriate being Thanksgiving Weekend.  Thankful for Juno Beach, all the men and women who fought for us, the work done by individuals like yourself to ensure we do not forget. Dad would have been proud of this program. With gratitude, Brenda.

Brenda, it is we who must share our gratitude with you. Thanks to your kindness and generosity, the Juno Beach Centre can continue its mission to preserve the legacy of Canada’s service and sacrifice in the Second World War.

Remember Today. Remember Always.

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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