WASAGA PARTICIPATES ON D-DAY
First Hand Account of Talking About D-day at Remembrance Day Ceremony
By Brian Belcourt, Reporter
I was reminded of how big of a sacrifice fighting in a war really is. If you want to really feel the sacrifice, talk to an historian about the real stories of the war. It is difficult to talk to a vet and get a firsthand account of what the world wars were like. We now rely on the stories of those that study the facts and take the time to research.
I was directed to report on the Wasaga Beach Remembrance Day ceremony on November 5, 2023. After the ceremony at the cenotaph, I went to the reception at Wasaga Chamber. I met retired Sergent Tony Beresford as he entered the building. I recognized Tony, as the Bugler for the Remembrance Day ceremony. As I enter the Wasaga Chamber, I noticed a photo display donated by Donald Conron. The photo was of the Wasaga J162 minesweeper and the crew, which Donald was Stoker First class on the ship. There was also a model of the original ship. The ship build in British Columbia was first stationed in Newfoundland but later moved to Nova Scotia during WW2. When the crew received notice that they were being deployed to England, they got so excited that they went in reverse instead of forward, damaging another Minesweeper, the Bayfield.
Tony explained that the Wasaga was one of sixteen Canadian mine sweepers that participated in D-day. Instead of leading the way for the Canadian forces landing at Juno, they were giving the assignment of leading American force at Omaha. The reason was that if a leading ship became disabled, it was to be blown up by their own convey to make way for the mass of ships coming from behind. Canadian ships lead American ships and vice versa.
The Wasaga was at Omaha beach for three days supporting the troops, landing with her guns, as the tanks that were to be the supporting guns, sank as the tide was too high. The crew witnessed the horrors of war through the three days at Omaha. The physical debris from the landing assault floated pass the ship.
Seeing this picture and having the opportunity to talk to Tony Beresford, who served in Bosnia, reminded me how big a sacrifice that these young men and women made so we would have the great country that we live in today. I hope everyone takes advantage of Remembrance Day on Saturday November 11 to attend a ceremony and thank a Veteran for their service.