Holding Juno: Canada's Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches, June 7–12, 1944


424 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55365-192-2
DDC 940.54'21422





Reviewed by Dave Bennett

David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.


On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Canadian Third Infantry Division and Second
Armoured Brigade landed on Juno Beach in Normandy. Zuehlke told this
story in Juno Beach and now follows up with Holding Juno. At the
beginning and the end of the six days covered, the Canadians attempted
to exploit their D-Day success, but spent much of their time defending
their sector against German counterattacks, which aimed to break the
line and smash through to the beaches. Hence the title of the book.

Holding Juno covers Canadian air, sea, and paratroop operations, with a
broad and central focus on the infantry and tankers (armoured troops).
Their principal opponent was the 12th Waffen-SS Hitler Youth Division,
strong in armour and motorized infantry and comprised of officer
veterans of the Russian Front and fanatically brave young Nazi rank and
file. This division was also responsible for atrocities against captured
Canadian troops well behind the lines, and the battlefield murder of
prisoners, wounded and unscathed alike. The fighting was the most bitter
the Canadians had to endure in Normandy and they acquitted themselves
well, with more than a thousand fatal casualties and a tribute from the
German historian of the SS: “a courageous and determined enemy.”

Zuehlke is categorized as a “popular historian,” which conceals the
extent of his delving into the documentary sources and a large number of
interviews of surviving participants. It is the fate of such freelance
historians to be ignored by the academic establishment. Zuehlke joins
the distinguished company of Barbara Tuchman, William Shirer, Cornelius
Ryan, and Pierre Berton in being dismissed as a mere spinner of
entertaining yarns. While his writing is occasionally sloppy and suffers
from the stress of trying to cram in a wealth of personal anecdote,
there is no doubt that he is in quite the same league as his academic


Zuehlke, Mark., “Holding Juno: Canada's Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches, June 7–12, 1944,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16765.