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Remembering the sacrifices made by Veterans, 75 years ago

Second World War Veteran, Alphonse Vautour shares his D-Day story

 

Ever since our very first Poppy coin in 2004, the Royal Canadian Mint has proudly issued special commemorative coins to remember the service and sacrifice of Canada’s Veterans and active military. Etched on each coin is the story of our shared history and memory of the extraordinary sacrifices made by our Veterans. Stories like this …

Alphonse Vautour of New Brunswick, Canada, was earning 35 cents a day in September of 1939 when he heard that Canada declared war on Germany. With few employment opportunities available during this time, Vautour was quick to enlist with the Canadian Army. On June 6, 1944, Private Vautour from the North Shore Regiment of New Brunswick landed in Bernières-sur-Mer, France. It was D-Day.

14,000 Canadians joined the Allied Forces on this day. Today, only a few D-Day Veterans are still with us. Only a few can recall the scenes from this historic event, which we are paying a special tribute to in 2019. The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing on Juno Beach in Normandy, France.

“I was 23 years old. I was at war. I was not scared. It was time to go and nothing more could prepare me for this moment,” Vautour shared during the launch of the two-dollar circulation coin honouring the 75th anniversary of D-Day on May 27, 2019, in Moncton, NB.  

 Vautour was the first Canadian to receive the coin that  features the image of soldiers peering out from their landing craft – a scene that Vautour experienced and can vividly recall. “We were on barges when we arrived and after we landed, we were on our own.” Vautour drove a Bren Gun Carrier and was joined by three other soldiers: one who operated the gun and two who handled grenades. “I managed to get the carrier behind the German bunkers and from there two of the men would jump out and throw hand grenades inside pillboxes [where German soldiers took cover]. We continued to do this many times.”

Following the D-Day invasion on June 6 of 1944, Vautour and his crew continued to campaign in Europe for over a year until the war ended. Even now, 75 years later, the memories of his time during the war are not lost. “It’s something you never forget,” he says. “You go to bed at night and every time you wake up it’s on your mind. It’s hard to believe what you’ve done.”

After the war ended, Vautour returned home to New Brunswick where he married the love of his life and together they raised a family of eight children. He will celebrate his 100th birthday on October 9, 2019.

Discover the D-Day story at mint.ca/d-day

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