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 Seaside on June 6, 1944, two minutes earlier than the primary assault wave hit. His boat was struck by the Germans as heavy machine weapons fired on them, forcing him to leap within the water.
“We needed to type of swim in,” he stated, remembering trying again and seeing a fellow soldier nonetheless within 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 truly 15. He joined up after his brother Jack Parks persuaded him to enlist. Each brothers stormed Juno Seaside on D-Day, though they weren’t on the identical touchdown craft. And each made it out alive.
They had been amongst roughly 14,000 Canadians who landed at Juno Seaside on D-Day, becoming a member of the greater than 150,000 allied troops who fought their means ashore on 5 seashores in Normandy that day. Some 359 Canadian troopers died on D-Day, in keeping with an account of the battle on the Veterans Affairs web site, and greater than 800 had 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 stated 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 guide on the Royal Winnipeg Rifles referred to as Maintain the Oak Line.
“They had been very near loss of life however they managed to flee the Second World Warfare untouched,” Jeanne stated.
“Jim was a particular witness … He noticed many issues.”
The five-part documentary movie is ready to return out in 2024, Jeanne says.
Parks credit his crystal-clear reminiscence partially to being so younger on the time of the battle.
“I used to be simply within the impressionable age while you’re an adolescent,” he stated.
“The whole lot that you just get there may be locked in … Individuals keep in mind quite a lot of issues about their highschool.”
Rob Cullen, whose dad Gilbert Cullen was a gunner within the Canadian Military’s twelfth Discipline 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 informed CBC Toronto.
“And Jim stated, ‘Sure, it is completely true,’ and we simply type of blossomed from there as pals.”
Cullen’s father additionally survived the battle and died in 1980.
Cullen and his spouse travelled to Normandy in June of this yr.
He has a ritual of going into the waters off Juno Seaside 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.
“Typically it is heat and typically it is freezing,” Cullen stated.
“I do quite a lot of pondering and I pay some respects to the fellows who got here ashore and those who did not make it. And I replenish the ocean a little bit bit with my tears and have my second, after which I stroll again in the identical time that my dad landed.”
Whereas on the seashore within the early hours, he seen 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 am doing there they usually inform me, ‘We’re filming a film right here in regards to the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.’ And I stated, ‘Nicely, I do know a kind of guys. his title is Jim Parks.'”
“The one man appears at me, he says ‘I am taking part in Jim Parks within the film.’ I am getting goosebumps simply speaking about it,” Cullen stated.
“There’s no person 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 stated it is essential tales about troopers like Parks proceed to be shared.
“We’re shedding so many veterans,” he stated.
“You recognize, we are saying, ‘Lest we overlook.’ Nicely, here is this crew of fellows over in Normandy engaged on a shoestring finances, 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 thrice every week to work out.
“I get a swim about as soon as every week, however more often than not it is within the health club … it is quite a lot of socializing,” Parks stated.
“Simply to maintain out of mischief, actually.”
He says he hopes he can return for the opening of the movie in 2024.
“I believe we stated to Fred, ‘Once you do the premiere over there, how about an invitation?'” Parks stated, laughing.