C&E Branch represented at D-Day commemorations in France


The Colonel Commandant and Branch Adjutant represented the C&E Branch and her founding services during the D-Day commemorations in France.

Thursday, 06 June 2019

Brigadier-General Kevin O’Keefe (Retired) and Major Blair Christie attended the D-Day commemoration on Juno Beach amongst the thousands of French and Canadian participants, and the Canadian veterans who landed on the beach 75 years ago on the 6th of June, 1944.

We were honoured to meet Hugh Patterson; a signalman whose campaign to breach Fortress Europe and liberate France from the 1,000-year Reich commenced on Juno Beach.  The Colonel Commandant conversed with as many veterans as he could, thanking them – on behalf of our C&E family – for their valour, bravery, and the courage they mustered in the face of overwhelming odds.





BGen O’Keefe also found a monument engraved with his father’s name.  John Francis O’Keefe was a Sapper with the Royal Canadian Engineers who landed on Juno Beach and fought in the province of Normandy.


We attended another three ceremonies the following day, including a poignant service at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.  There, the remains of a 2nd World War soldier – found and identified some time ago – where buried at the cemetery at his headstone alongside members of the soldier’s extended family.

Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, we found three headstones side-by-side – all signallers who died in the service of Canada on the same day: Tuesday, 08 August 1944 …

  • Corporal J.A. Snider, age 20
  • Corporal A.A. Zillinsky, age 31
  • Signalman A.S. MacArtney, age unknown



That evening, we visited the infamous Abby d’Ardenne; a church near the township of Caen, France where twenty Canadian soldiers from Nova Scotia where captured and executed by the Nazis.  A service that evening had members of a French family recount their discovery of the massacre, and their efforts – over the generations – to care for the burial plots of the Canadians, and to ensure their legacy remains forever remembered.


At the conclusion of the trip, we visited sacred sites of the First World War.  The first was Beaumont Hamel where, on the 1st of July 1916, the men of the Newfoundland Regiment charged the German trenches and nearly lost a generation of their sons in the ensuing battle.  The Newfoundland Regiment had been almost wiped out. When roll call was taken after the battle, only 68 men answered their names: 324 were killed, missing, or presumed dead.  Another 386 were wounded.  Lastly, we visited Vimy Ridge – one of the most powerful and sombre monuments in the French countryside where it stands vigil over the battle that dealt a significant blow to the German Army and thrust Canada into nationhood.  At its base, the names of over 11,000 Canadian soldiers are inscribed: sons of Canada whose bodies were never found.

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Guy Thibault
5 years ago

Great to see our Colonel Commandant and Branch Adjutant representing our C&E Family at this amazing tribute to our honoured veterans of WWII and the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.


Jim Mallard
5 years ago

It was a pleasure to serve with Kevin in Germany with 4CMBG HQ & Signal Sqn. in the 1970’s…Nice to see him chatting up our Veterans…