Sask. government provides $40,000 grant for Royal Regina Rifles 80th anniversary of D-Day tour

Photo from the Royal Regina Rifles Facebook page. A soldier from the Regina Rifles fires into a damaged building with a captured German MP40 submachinegun during the Battle for Caen roughly one month after D-Day.

Ministry of Parks, Culture, and Sport, Submitted

The Government of Saskatchewan is providing a $40,000 grant to support The Royal Regina Rifles Trust’s Battlefield Tour of Honour for the 80th Anniversary of Operation Overlord (D-Day) taking place in June 2024.

Then called The Regina Rifle Regiment, they were one of the first infantry regiments to storm Juno Beach as part of the Normandy D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Nicknamed “The Johns”, the regiment was made up of young men from across the province. The Battalion landed on the western side of Juno Beach, destroying gun positions on the beach and successfully clearing the village of Courseulles-sur-Mer before pushing further inland. 

“Our government is proud to provide funding to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Overload and the sacrifices of Regina Rifle Regiment during the Second World War,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Laura Ross said. “The Royal Regina Rifles have a proud history and linkage to our past. It is important to honour our veterans and keep the memories alive of our fallen heroes.”

During World War II, 458 members of The Regina Rifle Regiment made the ultimate sacrifice, including 102 on D-Day. 

To commemorate the anniversary and honour the sacrifice made by so many Saskatchewan soldiers, a bronze statue will be erected in Normandy. A group of active and retired Royal Regina Rifles servicemen and women will accompany the statue to Normandy, participate in the unveiling and continue on a 10-day battlefield tour, stopping at significant places in France, Holland and Belgium.

Titled ‘Operation CALVADOS’, named for the potent apple cider that the Regina Rifle Regiment found in abundance in Normandy, this initiative will ensure that the heroic deeds of these soldiers will be available for generations to come.

“The Royal Regina Rifles Trust is very grateful for the Government of Saskatchewan’s generous donation toward Operation CALVADOS,” Lead planner Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Ed Staniowski, OMM, CD said. “This grant contributes significantly to our efforts to honour the sacrifice of men from across the province who stormed Juno Beach on 6 June 1944 and to recognize the service of the members of the Regiment who proudly carry on the traditions of the Royal Regina Rifles today.”

The Royal Regina Rifles Trust will be previewing the statue, created by world-renowned sculptor, Don Begg of Cochrane, Alberta, during a commemorative service at the Saskatchewan War Memorial, located West of the Legislative Building, on Saturday, April 6. 

The statue will then make a stop on the Peepeekisis First Nation before traveling to France to be officially unveiled in June. More than 40 members of the Peepeekisis First Nation served in the Second World War.