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Remembering Hills D-Day heroes
By Jake Munro
The Allies' landing operation on June 6, 1944 - commonly known as D-Day - was the largest seaborne invasion in military history and kickstarted the eventual Allied victory on the Western Front and the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. As it turns out, there are multiple folks from across the Hills whose families fought in, organized, and reported on the amphibious operation. The Low Down rounded up a few of these stories in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Robert Bussière, Gatineau's MNA, is very familiar with the D-Day operations, as his father, Lionel Bussière, and one of his uncles, Armand Bussière, landed at Juno Beach, one of the five beaches the Allies invaded during the Normandy landings and the beach the Canadian forces were responsible for taking.
"My uncle was killed a few days after landing at Juno Beach," said Bussière. "They had succeeded in securing some buildings from the Germans, but Germany ended up bombing the area and he was killed."
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Private Armand Bussière, who served as part of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, was killed on July 25, 1944 at the age of 29. His body now rests in France at the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.
Bussière's father, Lionel, fortunately survived the war. According to the Gatineau MNA, it is a miracle that he did, considering Lionel served in a scouting capacity for the Canadian forces, and what he witnessed during those dark years affected him for years afterward.
"He said he saw a lot of horrors in his five years at war and he never wanted to talk about that," explained Bussière. "My mom said it often woke him up at night."
Charles Lynch, a well known Canadian journalist who was one of nine Canadian reporters to land alongside troops on D-Day on Juno Beach, is also connected to the Hills. His daughter, Lucinda Boucher, spends much of her time at the Kingsmere property her father owned.
Seeing as Lynch, who was only 24 at the time, was reporting with the technological limitations of the day, he was sending his copy back to England to the Reuters News Agency from France using pigeons, which he carried on his head during landing.
"During one of his dispatches, he released his pigeons for England but they flew the wrong way and headed for Berlin instead of the [English] Channel," said Boucher. "So, he put his fist up into the air and shouted 'Traitors! Damn traitors!' at them and that moment was included in the film 'The Longest Day'."
Both Bussière and Boucher have visited France and have seen what remains of the Normandy landings, and both attest to the massive impact the operation had on our history.
"Touring Normandy, it's moving when you're there. The massive loss of life really comes home, and we can all thank their sacrifices for our freedoms," said Boucher.
For more information on D-Day, Juno Beach, and Canada's contributions to the Second World War, visit www.junobeach.org.