First of all, it would have been very simple indeed to task a unit to provide a uniform body of troops if the intention had been simply to put Canadian troops on parade. But this was not just any parade. This ceremony--and the Driver ceremonies that were conducted over the several days before and after the 6th of June--was meant to highlight both the sacrifice of the dead and the service of the living. From the perspective of the Canadian Forces, these ceremonies also served to underscore the continuity of military service, past and present.
To this end, a considerable amount of effort was put into forming a contingent that would be representative of the units, formations, ships, squadrons, branches and services that participated in the D-Day invasion and the Battle of Normandy.
The body of troops that caused Mr. Anderson to "cringe" consisted of one or two soldiers from each of the D-Day landing regiments and airmen and airwomen from across Canada and from Canadian Forces elements in Europe. Rounding out the marching contingent was a flag party from the Navy.
As for our "terrible band" (which was not on the march past at Arromanches), the Canadian Forces was represented by the Naden Band from Maritime Forces Pacific, a band with an international reputation for excellence in music and drill. The composition of this contingent was roundly praised for its historical significance, both at the ceremonies themselves and on international television and in the international press. The young soldiers from units like the 1st Hussars, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles and the Regiment de la Chaudiere were profoundly moved by their participation in these events and in the opportunity afforded them to spend time with the D-Day veterans of their units.
Mr. Anderson may consider my contingent to have been an "absolute disgrace," but I, with respect, do not.
Major J.D. McKillip