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  • Claire Jordan

So Near and Yet So Far

Please spare a good thought for

this brave Canadian lad from Flin Flon, Manitoba, who was killed in action ten days after his 21st birthday at the end of September 1944.

David Swedberg was the son of John and Inga – here he is with Mum, Dad and Sister, still safe but looking very serious.

He had volunteered in February 1943 and trained for a year before embarking for the War in Europe, ready for D-Day on 6th June 1944.

David and his mates landed on Juno Beach, with the tanks of the Fort Garry Horse. In the initial assault, the reserve companies’ landing craft struck mines on the run-in to the beach.

20 year old David and his mates saw this happen as they made their own way into Armageddon.

They somehow climbed out of those landing craft and set about capturing the strategically important seaside town on Bernieres-sur-Mer, then fought their way to their D-Day objective, Anisy village, a very long eight and half miles inland.

The thing we tend to forget about D-Day is that, for those who faced down the beaches that day and survived them, this was only the beginning.

By dusk on the Longest Day, we had a narrow foothold on the very edge of the coast… now we had to take back the entire country from an entrenched enemy who had been ordered to fight to the last bullet for every inch of ground, every tree and bush and gatepost.

By 30th September, the Allied forces had fought their way more than 220 unimaginable miles north-east to Calais, which the enemy would not give up but which we simply had to take.

David’s 3rd Canadian Infantry Division had been laying siege to the German garrison and fortifications here since the 22nd.

He had come so far.

In the final assault on the town that morning, he and three of his comrades were moving forward in a small armoured personnel carrier in which David was manning a gun, when they hit a landmine. In an instant, he was gone.

The Germans would surrender Calais at 2pm that day.

David and his three mates are buried side by side in the CWGC’s Calais Canadian War Cemetery at Leubringhen.

Can’t roll off the cross-Channel ferry without thinking of them all.

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