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"Storming Juno" to honour Regina Rifles Regiment

"I took off across the beach, bullets flying all around, men being shot down. I could see where the Germans had been driving over the barb[ed] wire so that's the place I ran for.

"I took off across the beach, bullets flying all around, men being shot down. I could see where the Germans had been driving over the barb[ed] wire so that's the place I ran for. I thought of mines being laid there, so I took the longest steps I could to get across the wire. I got to the bank and went down on my belly, two of my men dropped down beside me. I thought we were bunched up so [I] said to my two boys, 'let's get out of here.' We took off and ran up the beach a piece ['til] we came to a shell hole and jumped in."

- words from Lt. Cpl. Ted Hindmarch of Manor, as written in Look To Your Front ... Regina Rifles: A Regiment at War 1944-45 by Gordon Brown and Terry Copp.

Regina Rifles Lt. Cpl. Edmond (Ted) G Hindmarch of Manor, was one of 160,000 allied soldiers who crossed the English Channel on June 6, 1944 and landed on the coast of Normandy.

As the soldiers neared the shore of Juno Beach, they jumped out of the landing crafts they occupied into waist-deep water. When they reached the shore, they raced across the wide-open beaches, and with bullets flying all around them, stormed the gun positions. Many lives were lost on this fateful D-Day, as these men sacrificed everything for the liberation of complete strangers.

D-Day was a turning point in World War II, which eventually led to the defeat of Hitler and Nazi Germany, and the liberation of Europe.

Over the years, Hollywood has dramatized and glorified this war to no end, though often forgetting the Canadians' involvement and sacrifice.

This Remembrance Day, thanks to new docu-drama titled "Storming Juno," Canadian soldiers who landed on Juno Beach will finally have a turn to tell their stories.

Three Canadian units are featured in "Storming Juno," including: the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion which landed early D-Day before the beach landings, the Regina Rifles Regiment (A Coy), and the 1st Hussars (B Squadron) of London, ON, whose tanks supported the Regina Rifles on D-Day.

Dolores Hatch, a woman born and raised in Manor, had the opportunity to work as a consultant on the production of this new film, thanks to her keen interest in researching the men of the Regina Rifles Regiment for the past several years.

"The producer got into contact with me, and he was planning to include the Regina Rifles, but maybe not really feature them as much as they are now," Hatch explained. "But after we talked for over an hour, he said 'Wow, you really have a passion for the Regina Rifles, and they have a really fantastic story to tell.' That's how the Regina [Rifles] came to be highlighted in this particular film."

"I am very proud of that because it allows me to share with a lot of people my knowledge of the Regina [Rifles] and to let people know what they were involved with on D-Day and the rest of the war."

As a consultant for the film, Hatch was able to provide the producers of the film with contacts of living veterans who landed on the coast of Normandy on D-Day

"These men are now in their mid-to-late 80s and into their 90s," said Hatch. "Some of these men will be portrayed in the movie."

"Every person who was in that regiment needs to be remembered," continued Hatch. "Not just the ones who were killed and their names are on monuments and memorials, but everyone who was over there and contributed in some way to that regiment. So that is what I have been doing for almost 10 years now."

Though Hatch has now lived in London, Ontario for quite some time, her desire to learn more about this Saskatchewan-based Regiment continues to grow with each new day.

"What really got me involved will all this was the fact I was a family friend of Gordon Brown," said Hatch. "Gordon Brown grew up in Manor, along with my whole family - the Dickin family - including Glenn Dickin. Those two enlisted together. Glenn was killed, but Gordon lived through the war and he was a commanding officer of the regiment at the very end of the war. So what really helped me was to get to know my uncle through him."

"I really enjoy the personal contact with the veterans and their families," Hatch continued. "I give them as much information as I can, not just about their family members, but the Regina Rifles in general and how I got involved with researching the Regina [Rifles]. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't spend time researching or talking people. It's just a really big party of my life, and I love it."

Lieutenant (Lt.) Glenn Dodsworth Dickin of Manor, Hatch's uncle, was killed in action on D-Day when he was hit my mortar fire just outside the church in the village of Fontaine-Henri.

"He was the son of George Dodsworth and Martha Amelia Dickin who operated a flour mill and ran a hotel at one time in Cannington Manor, and were also farmers," Hatch explained.

Lt. Dickin was one of the local men from Regina Rifles 'A Company' to reach the coast of Normandy on D-Day.

The late Lt. Cpl. Ted Hindmarch was another.

Lt. Cpl. Hindmarch was injured on Juno Beach when he was hit in the arm by gunfire.

"It was hard to see just where all the firing was coming from," Lt. Cpl. Hindmarch recalled in Look To Your Front ... Regina Rifles: A Regiment at War 1944-45 by Gordon Brown and Terry Copp. "We were still a long way from the first building up ahead. I asked my Bren Gunner to give some bursts on the windows and doors of the building. He said, 'Ted, I am so sick I can't.' I said, 'Give it to me", and gave him my sten gun. I gave some good blasts at the windows and doors then said, 'Let's go!" I jumped up and took off at the run and in a little way came to a concrete wall and trench with a camouflage net over it. I dropped down and turned sideways to it, and was preparing to go down with the bren gun when I got hit with a machine gun blast up my left arm."

After realizing his two men were gone, he found his way to other men from his regiment. One of them dressed the wound on his arm.

"I spent the rest of the day on the beach with the rest of the casualties," Lt. Cpl. Hindmarch wrote. "It was chilly."

It's the stories like this one which will be told in "Storming Juno" that will put a real face on D-Day for Canadians.

"Canadians in general and these units in particular have not historically received the attention they deserve," said Hatch. "I hope the upcoming productions will help change that."

One of the mens stories featured in the film is that of the late Lt. William David (Bill) Grayson of the Regina Rifles "A Company." Lt. Grayson grew up in Moose Jaw.

This past October, plans and details fell into place to enable Hatch to travel to Normandy with Lt. Grayson's daughter. They visited the battle grounds where both of their uncles were killed in action, their burial sites, and the place where Lt. Grayson was injured on July 18.

"I wanted to go to Normandy before the programs [were] shown," said Hatch. "Our experiences in France will render the watching of 'Storming Juno,' and the marking of Remembrance Day from this year on, even more meaningful and poignant. We will never forget."

"Storming Juno" aired on History Television on Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CST). It was followed by "Remembering Juno," a companion piece featuring interviews with D-Day veterans. The shows will air a number of times over the days following Remembrance Day. People can check their local listings for dates and times.