Jim Parks nonetheless vividly remembers the day he and his platoon stormed the seashores of Normandy greater than 70 years in the past.
Parks, a member of the Winnipeg Rifles, was among the many first wave of Canadian troopers to land at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944, two minutes earlier than the principle assault wave hit. His boat was struck by the Germans as heavy machine weapons fired on them, forcing him to leap in the water.
“We needed to form of swim in,” he mentioned, remembering trying again and seeing a fellow soldier nonetheless in the water.
“We do not know [if] they’re alive or lifeless,” Parks recalled.
Parks, 98, who now lives in Mount Albert, Ont., about 67 kilometres north of Toronto, lied about his age to affix the military, claiming to be 18 when he was really 15. He joined up after his brother Jack Parks persuaded him to enlist. Both brothers stormed Juno Beach on D-Day, though they weren’t on the identical touchdown craft. And each made it out alive.
They have been amongst roughly 14,000 Canadians who landed at Juno Beach on D-Day, becoming a member of the greater than 150,000 allied troops who fought their manner ashore on 5 seashores in Normandy that day. Some 359 Canadian troopers died on D-Day, in accordance with an account of the battle on the Veterans Affairs web site, and greater than 800 have been wounded.
A brand new documentary movie titled Little Black Devils — From Juno to Putot, that’s being shot in France, will embody each Parks brothers. Parks mentioned Little Black Devils was the title given to their staff.
In 2011, the movie’s creator Frederick Jeanne met Parks in Winnipeg. Parks helped him write a e book on the Royal Winnipeg Rifles referred to as Hold the Oak Line.
“They have been very near demise however they managed to flee the Second World War untouched,” Jeanne mentioned.
“Jim was a particular witness … He noticed many issues.”
The five-part documentary movie is ready to come back out in 2024, Jeanne says.
Parks credit his crystal-clear recollection in half to being so younger on the time of the warfare.
“I used to be simply in the impressionable age whenever you’re an adolescent,” he mentioned.
“Everything that you just get there’s locked in … People keep in mind loads of issues about their highschool.”
Rob Cullen, whose dad Gilbert Cullen was a gunner in the Canadian Army’s twelfth Field Regiment, met Parks roughly a decade in the past at a Remembrance Day ceremony.
“My dad landed proper behind Jim with the artillery and I spoke to Jim about it,” Cullen instructed CBC Toronto..
“And Jim mentioned, ‘Yes, it is completely true,’ and we simply type of blossomed from there as associates.”
Cullen’s father additionally survived the warfare and died in 1980.
Cullen and his spouse travelled to Normandy in June of this 12 months.
He has a ritual of going into the waters off Juno Beach on the anniversary of D-Day on the hour of the beginning of the assault. At 7:30 a.m. he walks as far and as deep as he can go whereas standing.
“Sometimes it is heat and generally it is freezing,” Cullen mentioned.
“I do loads of considering and I pay some respects to the fellows who got here ashore and those who did not make it. And I replenish the ocean somewhat bit with my tears and have my moment, after which I stroll again in the identical time that my dad landed.”
While on the seashore in the early hours, he observed a bunch of 4 younger males slowly approaching him. He was shocked when he noticed an emblem of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles on their jackets.
“We begin speaking they usually’re asking what I’m doing there they usually inform me, ‘We’re filming a film right here concerning the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.’ And I mentioned, ‘Well, I do know a type of guys. his title is Jim Parks.'”
“The one man seems to be at me, he says ‘I’m taking part in Jim Parks in the film.’ I’m getting goosebumps simply speaking about it,” Cullen mentioned.
“There is no one else on the entire seashore. Me, my spouse and these 4 guys. And I discover the man that is taking part in Jim Parks in a film that I by no means knew was being filmed. It was completely jaw-dropping.”
Cullen mentioned it is necessary tales about troopers like Parks proceed to be shared.
“We are dropping so many veterans,” he mentioned.
“You know, we are saying, ‘Lest we neglect.’ Well, this is this crew of men over in Normandy working on a shoestring funds, placing collectively a movement image about our troopers and their sacrifice.”
Meantime, Parks says he nonetheless stays energetic. He drives to his native health club about 3 times per week to work out.
“I get a swim about as soon as per week, however more often than not it is in the health club … it is loads of socializing,” Parks mentioned.
“Just to maintain out of mischief, actually.”
He says he hopes he can return for the opening of the movie in 2024.
“I feel we mentioned to Fred, ‘When you do the premiere over there, how about an invite?'” Parks mentioned, laughing.