Chilliwack to remember D-Day veterans on 76th anniversary of Normandy landing

Thousands died June 6, 1944, coming ashore on beaches in France while facing heavy German resistance

Saturday is the 76th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. On June 6, 1944 Allied boats brought thousands of troops across the English Channel to the shores of France. Thousands of soldiers gave their lives to establish a foothold in Europe, and from there Allied forces moved out, pushing back the Nazis, liberating Europe and eventually ending the Second World War.

“John Robotham was a young man when he went to Europe to fight in WWII, and he remembered fallen comrades right up to his death at the age of 99 last April.

Chilliwack’s John Robotham came ashore at Juno Beach that day, one of five landing points for the Allies. He and his colleagues in the Canadian 3rd Division Petrol Company faced heavy fire from artillery shells and machine-gun nests as they came ashore, but within hours they overwhelmed two battalions of the German 716th Infantry Division.

More than 21,000 troops were part of the offensive, and it’s estimated that 1,200 men died during the Juno Beach assault, but Robotham was not one of them.

READ MORE: Chilliwack takes a moment to remember D-Day

READ MORE: Seventy five years later, Canada’s role in D-Day landings endures

Over the following weeks, he and the Allies pressed on through France, Holland, Belgium and eventually Germany.

When the Second World War came to an official end on May 8, 1945, Robotham was still standing. He boarded a boat back to England, and then joined hundreds of Canadian soldiers on a jubilant cruise home, across the Atlantic Ocean.

He was just 24 years old then, married to his wife Irene with his entire life ahead of him. Every year he marked the anniversary of D-Day by remembering fallen comrades whose lives were cut short.

“May we all remember and pay tribute to our comrades who have passed on,” he once wrote, recounting those days. “We will remember them.”

On April 22 of this year, Robotham passed away at the age of 99.

He was survived by four children – Donna, Rick, Julie and Dan – along with 19 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren and seven great great grandchildren and too many nieces and nephews to count.

According to Veteran Affairs Canada, there are now less than 7,500 surviving Second World War veterans living in British Columbia.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Chilliwack loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people who traveled along Keith Wilson Road

Classic cars make a stop in Chilliwack during Brogan’s Ride Against Cancer

With the weather cooperating, more classics than expected hit the road for the fundraiser

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Cat owners in Chilliwack celebrate National Kitten Day

Chilliwack Progress readers share photos of their favourite felines on National Kitten Day

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read