The Juno Beach Centre is preparing to receive a special visitor at the end of this month.
Kim Galway is setting out on a 1,000-plus mile bicycle ride from Courseulles-sur-Mer on Juno Beach to the Netherlands. Over 70 days, Kim will retrace the path her grandfather, George G. Blackburn, took through northwest Europe during the Second World War. A camera crew will be documenting her remembrance pilgrimage, producing a documentary called Victory Journey. Here is the film’s synopsis:
Victory Journey retraces, by bike, the 1000-plus mile route of George G. Blackburn, a Canadian WWII artillery soldier, by his granddaughter, from March to May of 2020 and in time for VE Day’s 75th Anniversary. Guided by maps and stories in books Blackburn wrote in the last years of his life, his granddaughter, Kim Galway will stand where her grandfather stood in May of 1945, when Allied Victory was celebrated. This journey and documentary were borne out of a promise she made to him on his deathbed: to ensure the sacrifices of WWII Allies are never forgotten. Victory Journey is her tribute to her grandfather and to all who served on the Allied forces who, 75 years ago, bought us back our freedom.
The team at the Juno Beach Centre was thrilled to learn of Kim’s visit and her project to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps in time for VE Day 75. George Blackburn served with the 4th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (2nd Canadian Infantry Division) and arrived in Normandy through Courseulles-sur-Mer in early July 1944. Blackburn was an important figure in redressing the Canadians’ reputation and stellar accomplishments during the Battle of Normandy. He publishing three books, making this part of our shared history more known to the general public and not just expert historians. His approach of putting the reader in the same combat boots he filled in Normandy and beyond is unequalled in the literature.
A few of his words are part of our text panels next to our feature film, “They Walk with You.” This film is central to our visitors’ experience at the Centre and the beach itself.
Armchair strategists writing of those days — whether British, American, or Canadian — have all spent too much time wondering why they were so slow getting down past Falaise to meet up with the Americans. They should have spent more time wondering how men ever summoned up the necessary moral courage and physical stamina to get there at all.
Victory Journey is an important connection for the JBC team. Our founder, Garth Webb, was also a junior officer in the Royal Canadian Artillery during the Second World War. Where George Blackburn wrote incredible memoirs to mark the Canadian experience, Garth was the driving force behind our museum. Both gunners had a burning desire to preserve their memories and stories about these important events in Canadian history for future generations.
For more about Kim Galway and George Blackburn, visit https://victoryjourney.com/
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 email@example.com.