Skip to comments.Canadians with bicycles on D-Day (1944)
Posted on 02/08/2005 11:02:25 AM PST by franksolich
Okay, so I am looking at some photographs taken of D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the American, British, and Canadian armies landed in France.
Most of the photographs are the usual standard routine seen-them-before photographs, but there are a couple of them, involving the Canadians landing on "Juno" beach, where these guys, instead of coming ashore bearing weapons, are carrying bicycles.
Yes, bicycles, hundreds and hundreds of Canadians with bicycles, wading ashore under gun-fire.
The text does not explain why.
So then.....what were the Canadians doing with bicycles, and did such instruments have any effect on how the invasion went?
"Ping" for the usual suspects.
Probably for messengers to use.
It was to help them get inland as fast as possible.
"1939-1945, World War II: During World War II in Europe, bicycles were used behind the lines by both sides, especially by the Germans, and Finns. The Germans invaded Poland in 1939 using troops on bicycles being pulled by ropes attached to motor vehicles. Germans used them heavily in the conquest of Norway.
"Resistance teams used them in occupied countries much as the IRA did in Ireland. Canadian troops carried them along on D-Day. Paratroopers on both sides used them in large numbers. Japanese Paratroopers had a small-wheeled folding bike with high-rise handlebars."
Doesn't say exactly why, though.
"The BSA airborne bicycle was used in battle, but probably not as originally planned.
The plan appears to have been that the bicycles would be mass produced and make the airborne soldiers mobile once they had landed. It was better and faster than walking."
I was just about to post a link to photos from that same site:
Well, these photographs (sorry, no scanner on this computer) show the Canadians disembarking, carrying bicycles, UNDER FIRE. It makes sense that bicycles were used for messages and communiques, but it seems odd that bicycle-carrying Canadians would be in the forefront of the invasion; it just makes more sense that they would have followed, not led, the guys with the guns.
"Ironically the greatest use of the BSA airborne bicycle in action was by British and Canadian infantry on the invasion Normandy, France (D-Day 1944 June 6) in the second wave. Some had been used on the invasion of Sicily in 1943 by Canadian infantry (Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment "Hasty Pees" re: Farley Mowat). "
Who knows... they tried a lot of nutty stuff during the war. We very nearly used bats to attack in WWII, but then we finished the nuke. http://home.nycap.rr.com/useless/batbombs/
When asked why, it was said that if he got hot, he could roll the window down.
Never heard of bicycles on D-Day; I do learn something new every day, no kidding.
Thanks for the pic, Cagey.
Right, thanks, sir, for finding that photograph, so as to prove my point Canadians did land on the beaches of Normandy carrying bicycles.
The photograph I saw in the book, though, showed them disembarking while under fire; I wonder which bureaucratic colonel decided that phase of the operation--and hope he was sacked.
Thanks all ... some amazing images here and some great links. I love the old B&W photographs.
Great quality, too, thanks to Cagey.
By the way, Cagey, how did you come across these? Is photography, or the second world war, one of your interests, and you collect these things?
I do enjoy reading about the Second World War and I really enjoy photography from that period. I just used the image search in Google to come up with those photos though, they're not mine.
Someone had started a thread here yesterday about PBS showing a film about the construction of the Alaskan Highway during the Second World War and I knew very little about it until I watched the presentation last night so that's just another of example of learning things from others at this site. Thanks for starting this thread.
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