The Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy leads the parade onto the Square du Canada, during the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. (File contributed/ Canadian Forces Combat Camera - Cpl. Andrew Kelly)

CFB Esquimalt’s Naden Band heads to Normandy to commemorate D-Day

Naden will group with Canadian Army and Airforce bands to create a ‘Super Band’

Twenty members of the CFB Esquimalt’s Naden Band are in Normandy to participate in the celebration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

On June 6, 1944, more than 24,000 Allied forces members landed on the French beaches in what is the largest seaborne invasion in history. The air and sea attacks saw thousands of casualties on both sides of the battle but is credited with beginning the liberation of France and other parts of Europe in the Second World War.

This year military representatives from around the world are attending ceremonies throughout northern France to commemorate the victory.

ALSO READ: D-Day veterans revisit Normandy, recall horror and triumph

Navy Petty Officer, 2nd Class Katrina Bligh plays the oboe in the Naden Band and will be attending most of the 12 ceremonies happening throughout the trip.

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity to visit our past, to walk the same paths that the soldiers walked before us and to reflect on what they gave, and also to reflect on how our nation grew,” Bligh said. “Our national identity was being forged in the fires of the war; Canada was a young and a small nation at the time and it punched above its weight.”

This will be Bligh’s second trip to Normandy in three years; she also attended the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid in 2017.

PHOTOS: Combat boots begin cross-country journey for 75th anniversary of D-Day

“It was a very moving experience, especially because of the personal history I have; both my grandfathers were on the convoy in the navy for Canada,” Bligh said. “It was very moving and very sobering.”

The Naden Band will combine with the Airforce Band from Winnipeg and the army’s Royal Canadian Artillery Regiment Band based in Edmonton to become what’s know as the “Super Band.”

The 65-piece ensemble will play commemorative songs as well as up to 15 national anthems throughout the ceremonies

“I’m extremely excited and very proud to represent that West Coast, it’s going to be a trip I would not soon forget,” Bligh said. “It’s a highlight of our careers.”

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