Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
David “Dave” Robert Arksey was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1921. He finished high school at Lawrence Park Collegiate in 1940 and went overseas in 1941.
The US Army liberated Dave Arksey and his fellow survivors in late April. In early May 1945, Dave returned to England. He weighed just 119 pounds, down from the 175 pounds he weighed when he left England before D-Day. Dave returned to Canada just after New Year’s in 1946. He later fought in the Korean War.
Dave Arksey passed away on 24 April 2012, aged 91. He left behind his wife, Josephine, and four children.
The Battle of Le Mesnil-Patry
Lieutenant-General Sir Miles Dempsey, commander of 2nd British Army (under which 3rd Canadian Infantry Division served), ordered the attack, which also included elements of 50th British Division advancing to the west. Commanders later claimed the attack succeeded in thwarting a German attack. In fact, the idea was to support grander operations to capture Caen, a city that was supposed to have been a D-Day objective.
Beginning at 2:30 pm, Rifleman Arksey’s company advanced with tanks of “B” Squadron across a flat grain field towards Le Mesnil-Patry. Tanks of “C” Squadron supported the attack from positions near Norrey-en-Bessin. A battalion of German infantry supported by a company of tanks offered fierce resistance. The attack failed, and the Canadians suffered heavy losses. “D” Company suffered 96 casualties out of a strength of 105. The Canadian tankers suffered an additional 80 men killed, wounded, or missing and the loss of 34 tanks (all of “B” Squadron and almost half of “C” Squadron).
Atrocities in Normandy
In the interview, Dave mentions how a German officer cited a letter, signed by a captain in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, saying that Canadian troops take no prisoners as the reason for the massacres. The reality was that the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated even before the landings to believe that the Western Allies took no prisoners. This wasn’t true, as Dave attempted to point out. There is no evidence that Canadian soldiers ever murdered German troops after taking them prisoner.
The Hitler Youth started the killing again five days later (17 June). They executed seven other prisoners from the battle (one 1st Hussar and six Queen’s Own) near Mouen, over six kilometres southeast of Le Mesnil-Patry. The German soldiers then ordered French civilians to dig a large grave and bury the bodies.
An assault exercise prior to D-Day in an LCA (Landing Craft Assault).
Soldier loaded with equipment prior to boarding landing craft.
Landing craft headed towards Juno Beach on D-Day.
Landing craft heading towards Juno Beach on D-Day.
Map of Canadian Assaults on D-Day.
Dave (2nd from right) with 3 buddies in England before D-Day. Everyone but Dave was killed.
Map of Le Mesnil-Patry
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