HMCS Haida commemorated on 75th anniversary of D-Day on Hamilton’s waterfront

The HMCS Haida played an important role leading up to the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

It’s now permanently docked in Hamilton, but 75 years ago, the HMCS Haida helped to defend Allied forces ahead of the Normandy invasion.

Parks Canada highlighted the ship’s role in the pivotal moment during the Second World War with a ceremony on Wednesday evening to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Nine Hamiltonians were among the original crew members on the ship, which is now the last remaining Tribal class destroyer in the world, the ceremonial flagship of the Royal Canadian Navy and a national historic site.

In 1944, the Haida was part of the 10th Destroyer Flotilla and was charged with clearing the English Channel of German ships ahead of D-Day.

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“That role in the English Channel was just so essential, to clear it of enemy ships because they needed a path,” said Sarah Simpson, an interpretation officer at the site. “So they spent months … creating that opportunity.”

The Haida also participated in the testing of radar jamming technology known as “Moonshine,” which would mimic the sound of hundreds of ships in order to confuse and overwhelm the Germans, keeping them away from Normandy.

The evening culminated in marking the exact moment 75 years ago that Allied troops landed on the shores of Normandy, but also included tours of the Haida, historical demonstrations, and vehicles from the Second World War on display.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is also marking D-Day’s 75th anniversary.

A commemorative flight will leave Hamilton airport just before 12 p.m. on Thursday, consisting of three aircraft types that would have participated in the pivotal battle — the Douglas C-47 Dakota, B-25 Mitchell, and Avro Lancaster.

It will fly over much of the city including Hamilton Golf and Country Club, where round one of the Canadian Open will be underway.

There will also be a commemorative parachute jump at the museum after the flight.

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