As a young corporal, Stanley Fields was among the first Canadians to storm Juno Beach in Normandy.

“When our buddies were being shot and killed, we weren’t allowed to stop and move them,” Fields told CTV News. “Keep on going, that’s what we got orders to do.”

Fields, now 95 years old, plans to return to the site of the invasion that marked the turning point in the Second World War.

Last March, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino announced the government would offer $2,000 to any veteran to help cover travel costs to Normandy, so they could help commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

But while Fields applied for the travel subsidy, he says the funds don’t even come close to covering the cost of the trip to France.

“You have wheelchairs involved, you have people with reduced mobility even for getting in and out of bed,” said Fields’ partner Jean Kelly.  

Luckily, Fields and his family were able to obtain help from another source: the local government in Normandy offered to pay for the family’s hotels, and offered more than $4,300 to help cover the travel costs for his spouse and daughter.

The Canadian government said it is also providing chartered planes for veterans to fly them directly from Ottawa to Normandy. But the Fields family, who live in Ottawa, weren’t aware of that service.

“I knew nothing about charter flights leaving from Ottawa,” said Kelly.

The Canadian soldiers who landed on the shores of Normandy in 1944 were among the first of the Allied troops to break through German defences, which eventually led to the overthrow of Nazi-occupied Europe. Approximately 14,000 Canadians landed on Juno Beach on D-Day, with 359 soldiers losing their lives that day.

Government officials can’t say how many of the 180 veterans eligible for the grant have applied for the travel assistance, but say those who are planning to return to France will be well taken care of.

With files from CTV’s Richard Madan in Ottawa