The plot of land where the Juno Beach Centre was built is surrounded by an area known since 2004 as Juno Park.
The park was the scene of intense combat during the landings on June 6, 1944 and still contains many remnants of the defenses that were built on the site as part of the Atlantic Wall. Known to the Germans as Stütztpunkt (Strongpoint) 31, this 1,500m stretch of beach contained some 30 bunkers and defensive positions, including three anti-tank guns and twelve machine guns. To the Canadian soldiers landing on D-Day, it was known as “Mike Red Sector, Juno Beach”. On the morning of June 6, 1944, it was B Company, Royal Winnipeg Rifles and A Squadron, First Hussars who led the assault on this well defended position. Within two hours of landing, they had declared the area to be clear of resistance.
The R666 bunker located in front of the Juno Beach Centre was uncovered and its access was cleared with the creation of Juno Park in 2004. This bunker was a German observation post that was part of the Atlantic Wall defense system. In 1944, it contained radio equipment that allowed its occupants to communicate with other bunkers and coordinate the defense of the beach. A machine gun post was positioned on the top of the bunker. A steel dome (removed in the late 1970s) protected the observing soldier. It is a great example of the German strategy to fortify the port of Courseulles.
In 2014, the underground Command Post of the 6th Company, 736th Infantry Regiment of Hauptmann Grote, which controlled the site in 1944, was opened to the public. This German Command Post was originally connected to the observation bunker by a covered tunnel. This bunker had been inaccessible for much of its life, its entrance hidden by the movements of the sand dunes. It was only in 2010 that the bunker was re-discovered and cleared by a small group of volunteers. After which it was restored and secured by the town of Courseulles, in partnership with the Juno Beach Centre, in order to be made accessible for visitors. Built in 1941, this older structure showcases how the defenses on this site evolved over time, how construction techniques were perfected and how the defenses were augmented over the years of occupation in the early 1940s.
The remnants of the original harbour defenses of the port of Courseulles form a unique heritage site on the Landing beaches as major parts remain buried under sand dunes, which have been moving forward since the end of the Second World War, unlike elsewhere on the coast. In 2015, a German machine gun emplacement, also known as a Toruk, was uncovered on the grounds outside the Juno Beach Centre, and has since been excavated extensively by a team of volunteers. In the hopes of reopening this site to the public, the Juno Beach Centre launched an on-going fundraising campaign. Rehabilitating this unique heritage site enables it to grow as a memorial, as well as a historical and tourist site.
Since 2004, the Juno Beach Centre’s Canadian guides have conducted guided tours of Juno Park, leading visitors through the remains of the Atlantic Wall, and recounting the history of the D-Day Landings. The guided tour gives local context specific to Courseulles and the Battle of Normandy, and complements the visit of the museum which conveys the role of Canada throughout the entire Second World War.
The bunkers today are only accessible as part of this guided tour offered by the Juno Beach Centre, in order to ensure that they remain protected and in good condition for years to come. The Park itself is open access to anyone that wishes to visit and pay their respects on this historic site. A series of informative panels explain not only the historical significance of the area, but also the modern-day geography and wildlife.
Purchase a walking map of Juno Park at the Juno Beach Centre’s boutique for 1€.