Charles Arthur Massey Jr.

Gunner with the 14 Field Regiment RCA
Killed in Action June 6, 1944 at Berniere Sur Mer

Charles Arthur Massey was born on September 3, 1921 in Brockville, Ontario. He was raised by his parents Charles Albert (Tod) Massey Sr and the former Lillian Sarah Andress in the village of Rockport, Ontario along the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Islands. He was the oldest of 4 children.

Before the war Charles worked as a diesel mechanic on the boats in St. Lawrence. In his spare time he served with the 32/34th field artillery unit based in Gananoque.

His farther was from the US and his mother was Canadian so Charles was able to choose his citizenship at the age of 18. He decided he wanted to join the Canadian army so he choose Canadian citizenship. At that time "all the boys" who didn't have to work on a farm joined the Army. Charles joined the army on june 24th 1940.

He was assigned to the Royal Canadian Artillery, 14th Regiment. His unit was shipped overseas to Great Britain in July 1941. In 1944 the 14th Regiment was equipped with self propelled guns and Charles became a driver/gunner at that time.

The gun was called a "Priest" because it looked somewhat like a preaching chair. The M7 'Priest' Self-Propelled Gun consisted of the chassis of the M3 medium tank with an open-topped superstructure into which the standard field artillery 105-mm (4.1-in) Howitzer M2A1 was mounted.

Colonel Griffin was the commanding officer of Charles his unit.

The 14th Regiment was part of the 8th Brigade which was assigned to land on Juno Beach. The 14th Regiment started to land near Bernieres-sur-Mer at 9:25 a.m. The landing craft was making his run towards the beach when a German 88MM shell hit Massey's gun. Flames went up hundreds of feet in the air as the whole gun blew up. The whole crew died instantly. The gun had carried 100 gallons of gas, a full load of ammunition and additional landmines.

The 14th Regiment lost 3 self propelled guns that day and in two cases the entire crew was lost.

Charles A Massey died at the age of 22. His name is mentioned on the wall of the Bayeux Memorial. He was one of the 364 Canadian Servicemen that died on the first day of operation Overlord on June 6 1944.

Other soldiers of 14th RCA that died the same day:

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Charles Arthur Massey

Charles Massey Junior.
Picture courtesy, Dan Massey


Before the war

Charles Massey Junior.
Picture courtesy, Dan Massey


Royal Canadian Artillery

Cap badge - author's collection


14th RCA - in Normandy

Bdr. L.A. Boyle, Gunner H.W. Embree and Gunner L. Armstrong, 14th Field Regiment, RCA, seating on a Priest self-propelled gun in Normandy, 20 June 1944. Photo by Donald I. Grant. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-131408.



Canadians landing at Bernieres sur Mer on D-day.
Picture courtesy, National Archives of Canada and Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie


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