Ranville War Cemetery

Ranville War Cemetery. Credit: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, a unit of the British 6th Airborne Division, was the first Canadian invasion force in France. The battalion dropped out of a windy sky over a wider area than had been planned and had difficulty in concentrating. Eighty-four men were taken prisoner. Nevertheless, it carried out the tasks assigned to it - destroying bridges over the Divette and Dives rivers and capturing a German strong point west of the village of Varaville.

The graves of 76 Canadians are located in the Ranville War Cemetery near Caen, including nine members of the RCAF, three CANLOAN officers and 57 members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. Some 450 of the parachutists landed early June 6 ahead of the main invasion force, tasked with destroying bridges and capturing German strongpoints.

Ranville was the first village to be liberated in the D-Day landings. A memorial here to the British 6th Airborne Division, to which the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion belonged, recalls this.

Directions

Ranville is best reached by taking the D513 north-eastwards out of Caen, and after about 9 kilometres turning left at Herouvillette. Go north for one kilometre and then turn left into Ranville village. The War Cemetery is on Rue des Airbornes.

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