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Military history of Canada during the Second World War

Military history of Canada during the Second World War

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Encyclopedia
The Second World War officially began on September 1, 1939, with the German invasion of Poland. Britain and France declared war on the Nazi Third Reich on September 3, 1939. Seven days later, on September 10, 1939, the Parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 likewise declared war on Germany, the country's first independent declaration of war and the beginning of Canada's
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 participation in the largest combined national effort in its history. By war's end, 1 million citizens would have served in military uniform, and Canada would possess the fourth largest air force and third largest surface fleet in the world.

Overview



Canada's military was active in every theatre of war, though most battles occurred in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, and the North Atlantic.

Over the course of the war, 1.1 million Canadians served in the Army
Canadian Forces Land Force Command
The Canadian Army , previously called Land Force Command, is responsible for army operations within the Canadian Forces. The current size of the Army is 19,500 regular soldiers and 16,000 reserve soldiers, for a total of around 35,500 soldiers...

, Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

, and Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

. Of these more than 45,000 lost their lives
World War II casualties
World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population. The tables below give a detailed country-by-country count of human losses.-Total dead:...

 and another 54,000 were wounded. The financial cost was $
Canadian dollar
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. As of 2007, the Canadian dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

21,786,077,519.12, between the 1939 and 1950 fiscal years. By the end of the War, Canada had the world's fourth largest air force, and third largest navy. As well, the Canadian Merchant Navy
Canadian Merchant Navy
Canada, like several other Commonwealth nations, created its own Merchant Navy in a large-scale effort during World War II. Within hours of Canada's declaration of war on September 10, 1939, the Canadian government passed laws to create the Canadian Merchant Navy setting out rules and controls to...

 completed over 25,000 voyages across the Atlantic. Canadians also served in the militaries of various Allied countries
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

.

By D-Day, June 6, 1944, the landings at Normandy were accomplished by two beachheads made by the American forces at Omaha and Utah, two by British forces, Sword and Gold, and a final one at Juno made by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
3rd Canadian Infantry Division
The Canadian 3rd Infantry Division was an infantry division of the Canadian Army from 1940 to c.1945.- History :The formation of the division was authorized on 17 May 1940...

.

The war had significant cultural, political and economic effects on Canada, including the conscription crisis
Conscription Crisis of 1944
The Conscription Crisis of 1944 was a political and military crisis following the introduction of forced military service in Canada during World War II. It was similar to the Conscription Crisis of 1917, but was not as politically damaging....

 which affected unity between Canadian francophones and anglophones. However, the war effort not only strengthened the Canadian economy
Economy of Canada
Canada has the tenth largest economy in the world , is one of the world's wealthiest nations, and is a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and Group of Eight . As with other developed nations, the Canadian economy is dominated by the service industry, which employs...

 but further established Canada as a major actor on the world stage.

Sovereignty and the declaration of war



In 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, Canada was still a quasi-independent Dominion
Commonwealth Realm
A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state within the Commonwealth of Nations that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. The sixteen current realms have a combined land area of 18.8 million km² , and a population of 134 million, of which all, except about two million, live in the six...

 of the British Empire and automatically went to war when Britain did, albeit with full autonomy to decide the form and extent of its involvement. However, the 1931 Statute of Westminster
Statute of Westminster 1931
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

 had transformed Canada into a fully sovereign state, theoretically co-equal with Britain and the other Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Despite this, some commentators at the time suggested that Canada was still bound by Britain's declaration of war because it had been made in the name of their common monarch, but Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King was unshakable, and repeatedly declared that "Parliament will decide."

After two days of debate, the House of Commons approved an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne
Speech from the Throne
A speech from the throne is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament, outlining the government's agenda for the coming session...

 on 9 September 1939 giving authority to declare war to King's government. A small group of Quebec legislators attempted to amend the bill, and CCF
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation was a Canadian political party founded in 1932 in Calgary, Alberta, by a number of socialist, farm, co-operative and labour groups, and the League for Social Reconstruction...

 party leader J. S. Woodsworth
J. S. Woodsworth
James Shaver Woodsworth was a pioneer in the Canadian social democratic movement. Following more than two decades ministering to the poor and the working class, J. S...

 stated that some of his party opposed it, but the bill passed by acclamation
Acclamation
An acclamation, in its most common sense, is a form of election that does not use a ballot. "Acclamation" or "acclamatio" can also signify a kind of ritual greeting and expression of approval in certain social contexts in ancient Rome.-Voting:...

. The Senate also passed the bill that day. The Cabinet
Cabinet of Canada
The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada...

 drafted a proclamation of war that night, which Governor-General Lord Tweedsmuir signed on 10 September. Canada later also declared war on Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 (June 11, 1940), Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 (December 7, 1941), and other Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

, enshrining the principle that the Statute of Westminster conferred these sovereign powers to Canada.

Outbreak of war


Though Canada was the oldest Dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

 in the British Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, it was, for the most part, reluctant to enter the war. Canada, with a population somewhere between 11 to 12 million, eventually raised very substantial armed forces. After the long struggle of the Great Depression
Great Depression in Canada
Canada was hit hard by the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1939, the gross national product dropped 40% . Unemployment reached 27% at the depth of the Depression in 1933...

 of the 1930s, the challenges of the Second World War accelerated Canada's ongoing transformation into a modern urban and industrialized nation.

Having suffered from nearly 20 years of neglect, Canada's armed forces were small, poorly equipped, and, for the most part, unprepared for war in 1939. The Permanent Active Militia (or Permanent Force (PF), Canada's full time army) had just 4,261 officers and men, while the Non-Permanent Active Militia (Canada's reserve force) numbered 51,000 partially trained and ill-equipped soldiers. Modern equipment was scarce all around. Attempts to modernize had begun in 1936, but equipment procurement was slow and the government was unwilling to expend money to equip the new tank battalions introduced that year.

At the outbreak of war, Canada's commitment to the war in Europe was limited by government to one division, and one division in reserve for home defence. Nevertheless, the eventual size of the Canadian armed forces greatly exceeded those envisioned in the pre-war period's so-called mobilization "schemes". Over the course of the war, the army enlisted 730,000; the air force 260,000; and the navy 115,000 personnel. In addition, thousands of Canadians served in the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

. Approximately half of Canada's army and three-quarters of its air-force personnel never left the country, compared to the overseas deployment of approximately three-quarters of the forces of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. By war's end, however, 1.1 million men and women had served in uniform for Canada. The Royal Canadian Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

 grew from only a few ships in 1939 to over 400 ships, including three aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s and two cruisers. This maritime effort helped keep the shipping lanes open across the Atlantic throughout the war.

In part, this reflected Mackenzie King's policy of "limited liability" and the labour requirements of Canada's industrial war effort. But it also reflected the objective circumstances of the war. With France defeated and occupied, there was no Second World War equivalent of the Great War's Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 until the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Moreover, the manpower requirements of the North Africa
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

 and Mediterranean theatres were comparatively small and readily met by British and other British Empire/Commonwealth forces.

Canada had become one of the world's leading automobile manufacturers in the 1920s, owing to the presence of branch-plants of American automakers in Ontario. In 1938, Canada's automotive industry ranked fourth in the world in the output of passenger car and trucks, even though a large part of its productive capacity remained idle because of the Depression. During the war, this industry was put to good use, building all manner of war material, and most particularly wheeled vehicles, of which Canada became the second largest (next to the United States) producer during the war. Canada's output of nearly 800,000 trucks, for instance, exceeded the combined total truck production of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Rivals Ford and General Motors of Canada pooled their engineering design teams to produce a standardized vehicle amenable to mass production, the Canadian Military Pattern
Canadian Military Pattern truck
The Canadian Military Pattern truck was a class of military truck made in large numbers in Canada during World War II to British Army specifications for use in the armies of the British Commonwealth allies. CMP trucks were also sent to the Soviet Union following the Nazi invasion of Russia, as...

 (CMP) truck, which served throughout the British Commonwealth. Approximately half of the British Army's transport requirements were supplied from Canadian manufacturers. The British Official History argues that the production of soft-skinned trucks, including the CMP truck class, was Canada's most important contribution to Allied victory.

Canada also produced its own medium tank, the Ram
Ram tank
The Tank Cruiser, Ram was a cruiser tank designed and built by Canada in the Second World War, based on the U.S. M3 Medium tank. Due to the entrance of the United States into the war and the superior design of the American Sherman, it was used exclusively for training purposes and was never used in...

. Though it was unsuitable for combat employment, many were used for training, and the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment used modified Rams as armoured personnel carriers in North-West Europe. In addition 1,390 Canadian-built Valentine tank
Valentine tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production...

s were shipped to the Soviet Union. Approximately 14000 aircraft, including Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

 and Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

 bombers, were built in Canada. In addition, by the end of 1944, Canadian shipyards had launched naval ships, such as destroyers, frigates, corvettes, and some 345 merchant vessels. But perhaps no Canadian contribution to the Allied war effort was so vital as that made by the metals industries: half of Allied aluminium and ninety percent of Allied nickel was supplied by Canadian sources during the war.

Mobilization, deployment



While the response to war was initially intended to be limited, resources were mobilized quickly. The Convoy HX-1 departed Halifax just six days after the nation declared war, escorted by and . The 1st Canadian Infantry Division
1st Canadian Infantry Division
The 1st Canadian Infantry Division was a formation mobilized on 1 September 1939 for service in the Second World War. The division was also reactivated twice during the Cold War....

 arrived in Britain on January 1, 1940. By June 13, 1940, the 1st Battalion of The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces. The regiment is headquartered in Belleville, Ontario, with companies in Peterborough and Cobourg....

 was deployed to France in an attempt to secure the southern flank of the British Expeditionary Force
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

 in Belgium. By the time the battalion arrived, the British and allies were cut off at Dunkirk, Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 had fallen, and after penetrating 200 km inland, the battalion returned to Brest
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

 and then to Britain.

After Dunkirk, the defence of the British Isles was left in disarray. There were only two fully armed and mobilized divisions ready to defend against invasion: the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, and the Scottish 52nd. Consequently, the bulk of the Canadian army overseas did not engage in sustained combat until mid-1943. Many of the young soldiers of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, overseas since December 1939, could claim, by 1943, to have spent more of their adult lives in England than in Canada. Nevertheless, this guard duty served as a bulwark, along with British counterparts, in combating the threat from German-occupied Europe during the time when the threat of invasion was at its greatest.

The frustrated Canadian Army fought no significant engagement in the European theatre of operations until the invasion of Sicily
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...

 in the summer of 1943. With the Sicily Campaign, the Canadians had the opportunity to enter combat and later were among the first to enter Rome.

Canada was the only country of the Americas to be actively
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 involved in the war until the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

.

Canadian support for the war was mobilized through a propaganda campaign, including If Day
If Day
If Day was a simulated Nazi invasion of the Canadian city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and surrounding areas on February 19, 1942, during the Second World War. It was organized by the Greater Winnipeg Victory Loan organization, which was led by prominent Winnipeg businessman J. D. Perrin...

, a staged 'Nazi' invasion of Winnipeg which generated more than $3 million in war bonds.

Early campaigns



Although it regularly consulted with Canada, Britain was essentially in charge of both countries' war plans during the first nine months of the war. Neither nation seriously planned for Canada's own defense; Canada's training, production, and equipment emphasized combat in Europe. Its primary role was to train pilots from throughout the Empire with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan , known in some countries as the Empire Air Training Scheme , was a massive, joint military aircrew training program created by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, during the Second World War...

, which the British proposed on 26 September 1939, and supply food and raw materials, not send hundreds of thousands of troops overseas as it had done in World War I.

It is possible that Britain did not want Canada to send troops overseas at all. The Canadian government agreed, because doing so might result in the need for conscription, and it did not want a recurrence of the problem with French Canadians that caused the Conscription Crisis of 1917
Conscription Crisis of 1917
The Conscription Crisis of 1917 was a political and military crisis in Canada during World War I.-Background:...

. Public opinion did cause King to send the 1st Canadian Infantry Division in late 1939, possibly against British wishes, but it is posible that had the air training proposal arrived ten days earlier no Canadian troops would have left North America that year. Canada fully cooperated with Britain otherwise, devoting 90% of the manpower of the small Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

 (RCAF) to the air training plan.

In 1937 the two nations had agreed that any Canadian military equipment manufactured in Canada would use British designs. While this reasonably assumed that Canadian troops would presumably always fight with Britain so the two forces should share equipment, it also resulted in Canada being dependent on components from a source across the Atlantic. Canadian manufacturing methods and tooling used American, not British designs, so implementing the plan would have meant complete changes to Canadian factories. Once war began, however, Britain was uninterested in Canadian military equipment production, and British companies refused Canadians its designs. As late as 12 June 1940, King's government and the Canadian Manufacturers' Association asked the British and French governments to end their "small experimental orders" and "make known at the earliest moment their pressing needs of munitions and supplies", as "Canadian plants might be utilized to a far greater extent as a source of supply".

This situation began to change on 24 May 1940, during the Battle for France, when Britain told Canada that it could no longer provide equipment. 48 hours later, Britain asked Canada for equipment. On 28 May, seven Canadian destroyers sailed to the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, leaving only two French submarines to defend the nation's Atlantic coast. Canada also sent 50 million rounds of small arms ammunition, leaving itself with a shortage. The air training plan's first graduates were intended to become instructors for future students, but they were sent to Europe immediately because of the danger to Britain. The end of British equipment deliveries threatened the training plan, and King had to ask President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for aircraft and engines by stating that they would help defend North America. Between the collapse of France in June 1940 and the German invasion of the USSR
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 in June 1941, Canada supplied Britain with urgently needed food, weapons, and war materials by naval convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s and airlift
Airlift
Airlift is the act of transporting people or cargo from point to point using aircraft.Airlift may also refer to:*Airlift , a suction device for moving sand and silt underwater-See also:...

s, as well as pilots and planes who fought in the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

 and the Blitz
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

. If the planned German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 invasion of Britain
Operation Sealion
Operation Sea Lion was Germany's plan to invade the United Kingdom during the Second World War, beginning in 1940. To have had any chance of success, however, the operation would have required air and naval supremacy over the English Channel...

 had taken place in 1941, units of the formation later known as I Canadian Corps
I Canadian Corps
I Canadian Corps was one of the two corps fielded by the Canadian Army during World War II. From December 24, 1940 until the formation of the First Canadian Army in April 1942, there was a single unnumbered Canadian Corps...

 were already deployed between the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 and London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 to meet them.

After France's surrender, Britain told Canada that a German invasion of it was not impossible, and that Canadians needed to plan accordingly. From June 1940 Canada viewed defending itself as important as aiding Britain, perhaps slightly more so. It also produced military equipment using American methods and tooling. On 24 June King's government presented the first $1 billion budget in Canadian history, including $700 million in war expenses; however, due to the war, the overall economy was the strongest in Canadian history. The National Resources Mobilization Act
National Resources Mobilization Act
National Resources Mobilization Act is a Canadian government statute which enabled conscription in Canada during World War II. The bill, passed by Parliament on June 21, 1940, permitted conscripts to be used for home defence only and not to be deployed overseas but was modified lolin August 1942 to...

 began conscription, with drafted soldiers for use only in North America unless they volunteered, avoiding the issue that caused the 1917 crisis. (When Mayor of Montreal
Mayor of Montreal
The Mayor of Montreal is head of the executive branch of Montreal City Council.The Mayor's office administers all city services, public property, police and fire protection, most public agencies, and enforces all city and provincial laws within Montreal....

 Camilien Houde nonetheless opposed conscription in August 1940, he was arrested and sent to an internment camp.)

The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government also feared the consequences to North America of a German victory in Europe. The American military had long considered any foreign attack on Canada as the same as attacking the United States. American isolationists who criticized Roosevelt administration aid to Europe could not criticize helping Canada. Through King, the United States asked the United Kingdom to disperse the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 around the Empire so that the Germans could not control it. On 16 August 1940, King met with Roosevelt at the border town of Ogdensburg, New York
Ogdensburg, New York
Ogdensburg is a city in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The population was 11,128 at the 2010 census. In the late 18th century, European-American settlers named the community after American land owner and developer Samuel Ogden....

. Through the Ogdensburg Agreement
Ogdensburg Agreement
The Ogdensburg Agreement is an agreement signed on August 17, 1940, between Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada and United States President Franklin Roosevelt in Heuvelton near Ogdensburg, New York.-History and Rationale:...

, they agreed to create the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, an organization that would plan joint defence of both countries and would continue to exist after the war. In the fall of 1940 a British defeat seemed so likely the joint board agreed to give the United States control of the Canadian military if Germany won in Europe. By the spring of 1941, as the military situation improved, Canada refused to accept American control of its forces if and when the United States entered the war.

Canada was the primary location of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the largest air force training program in history. 131,553 air force personnel, including 49,808 pilots, were trained at airbases in Canada from October 1940 to March 1945. More than half of the BCAT graduates were Canadians who went on to serve with the RCAF and Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF). One out of the six RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

 groups flying in Europe was Canadian.
Squadrons of the RCAF and individual Canadian pilots flying with the British RAF fought with distinction in Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 and Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane
The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force...

 fighters during the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

. By January 1, 1943, there were enough RCAF bombers and crews in Britain to form No. 6 Group
No. 6 Group RCAF
No. 6 Group RCAF was an organization of Royal Canadian Air Force bomber squadrons which operated from airfields in Yorkshire, England during the Second World War. Although 6 Group was RCAF, it was controlled by the Royal Air Force as part of Bomber Command. No. 6 Group had been previously active...

, one of eight bomber groups within RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

.

Early in the war, Japanese troops invaded the Aleutian Islands. Canadian air force planes flew anti-submarine patrols against the Japanese while on land, Canadian troops fought side by side with American troops against the Japanese. Eventually, the Japanese were repulsed.

Newfoundland



When war was declared, Britain expected Canada to take responsibility for defending North America. In 1939, L. E. Emerson
L. E. Emerson
L. E. Emerson was the Colony of Newfoundland's Commissioner of Defence from 1939 until 1945. Commissioner Emerson was responsible for organizing liaisons with the Canadian and American occupation forces during Newfoundland's "Friendly Invasion"...

 was the Commissioner of Defence for Newfoundland
Dominion of Newfoundland
The Dominion of Newfoundland was a British Dominion from 1907 to 1949 . The Dominion of Newfoundland was situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast and comprised the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the continental mainland...

. Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 instructed Emerson to cooperate with Canada and comply with a "friendly invasion" as he encouraged Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG was the dominant Canadian political leader from the 1920s through the 1940s. He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926; from September 25, 1926 to August 7, 1930; and from October 23, 1935 to November 15, 1948...

 to advise the occupation of Newfoundland by the king as monarch of Canada. By March 1942, Commissioner Emerson had restructured official organizations, such as The Aircraft Detection Corps Newfoundland
The Aircraft Detection Corps Newfoundland
The Aircraft Detection Corps Newfoundland was created by the Commission of Government during World War II.Aircraft Detection Corps Newfoundland was an all-volunteer civilian unit meant to observe for suspicious planes and ships....

, and integrated them into Canadian units, like The Canadian Aircraft Identity Corps
Aircraft Identity Corps
The Aircraft identity Corps was a Canadian civil defence organisation operating between 1940 and 1945. It was formed in 1940 by Air Vice-Marshal George Croil. By war's end it had over 30,000 members....

.

The British Army mustered two units in Newfoundland for overseas service: The 59th Field Artillery and the 166th Field Artillery. The 59th served in northern Europe, the 166th served in Italy and North Africa. The Newfoundland Regiment was also mustered, but was never deployed overseas. No. 125 (Newfoundland) Squadron R.A.F. served in England and Wales and provided support during D-Day
D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...

: the squadron was disbanded on 20 November 1945.

Several Canadian regiments were garrisoned in Newfoundland during the Second World War: the most famous regiment was The Royal Rifles of Canada who were stationed at Cape Spear before being dispatched to British Hong Kong; In July 1941, The Prince Edward Island Highlanders
The Prince Edward Island Highlanders
The Prince Edward Island Highlanders was an infantry regiment of the Canadian Army. Originally founded in 1875 as the Queen's County Provisional Battalion of Infantry, it went through several name changes including: 1876 - Queen's County Battalion of Infantry; 1879 - 82nd Queen's County Battalion...

 arrived to replace them; In 1941 and 1942, The Lincoln & Welland Regiment was assigned to Gander Airport
Gander International Airport
Gander International Airport is located in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and is currently run by the Gander Airport Authority. Canadian Forces Base Gander shares the airfield but is a separate entity from the airport.-Early years and prominence:...

 and then St. John's
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
St. John's is the capital and largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador, and is the oldest English-founded city in North America. It is located on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland. With a population of 192,326 as of July 1, 2010, the St...

.

The Canadian Army built a concrete fort at Cape Spear
Cape Spear
Cape Spear, located on the Avalon Peninsula near St. John's, Newfoundland, is the easternmost point in North America , excluding Greenland and the portions of Alaska west of the 180th parallel of longitude . Cape Spear is close to Blackhead, an amalgamated area of the City of St. John's, about...

 with several large guns to deter German naval raids. Other forts were built overlooking St. John's Harbour; magazines and bunkers were cut into the South Side Hills and torpedo nets were draped across the harbour mouth. Cannons were erected at Bell Island
Bell Island
Bell Island is a Canadian island located off Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula in Conception Bay.Measuring 9 km in length and 3 km in width, Bell Island has an area of 34 km²...

 to protect the merchant navy from submarine attacks and guns were mounted at Rigolette to protect Goose Bay.

All Canadian soldiers assigned to Newfoundland from 1939 to 1945 received a silver clasp to their Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
Canadian Volunteer Service Medal
The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal is granted to persons of any rank in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of Canada who voluntarily served on Active Service and have honourably completed eighteen months total voluntary service from September 3, 1939 to March 1, 1947.On June 6, 2003, eligibility...

 for overseas service. Because Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia had all issued their own volunteer service medals, the Newfoundland government minted its own volunteer service medal in 1978. The Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal
Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal
The Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal was issued to those from Newfoundland & Labrador who served in the British Forces outside of the province...

 was awarded only to Newfoundlanders who served overseas in the Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 Forces but had not received a volunteer service medal. The medal is bronze: on its obverse is a crown and a caribou; on its reverse is Britannia
Britannia
Britannia is an ancient term for Great Britain, and also a female personification of the island. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain. However, by the...

 and two lions.

Battle of the Atlantic


The Battle of The Atlantic was longest ongoing battle in World War Two. Once Britain declared war on Germany, Canada quickly followed, entering the war on September 10, 1939, as they had a vested interest in sustaining Britain.

Canadian security relied on British success in this war, along with maintaining national security, politically speaking, some felt it was Canada’s duty to assist her allies. For example the Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King had been utterly convinced that it was Canada’s “Self evident national duty” to "back Britain”.

Once World War Two had erupted in 1939, Canada did not have a navy of any significance. In 1939 Canada had 7 warships. Once entering the war, Canada needed a naval reformation in order to keep up with and aid the British. On the outbreak of the war Canada had roughly 3,500 men supporting the RCN. In September 1940 “the RCN grew to 10,000 men”.

Canada’s role in the Battle of the Atlantic primarily consisted of escorting merchant ships from North America to Britain. Without the shipments Britain would not be able to continue fighting in the war. Submarines were used by both Germans and Italians to attack the supply lines in the Atlantic in an attempt to “suffocate” Britain of its ability to continue fighting in the war. Initially, the Germans were very successful in their goal of cutting off these supply lines. Nearly 350 merchant ships were sunk by U-boats during the last six months of 1940, and at the end of 1941, U-boats destroyed 600,000 tons of cargo. After 1941, Canada did an excellent job in making these convoy escorts go smoothly. The RCN became increasingly involved in all three countries’ (United States, Canada, and Britain) shipyards, docks, railways, road transport and air force to ensure the continual flow of these merchant convoys.

The Canadian government agencies also played a major role in the patterns of warfare in the Atlantic. The Canadian Navies Division operated a network of naval control of shipping agents in the neutral United States from 1939 to 1941. These agents managed the shipping movements of British shipping in the United States, and also managed the growing USN systems in regards to basic trade movements. Special publications on trade matters were supplied to the USN from Ottawa in 1941, and by the time of Pearl Harbor American port directors were working with Ottawa as a team. Ottawa’s job of studying trade movements and keeping track of intelligence was so effective and crucial that they were given the task of controlling shipping west of 40〫and north of the equator from December 1941 to July 1942, along with supplying the USN trade directorate with daily intelligence.

Canada was also given the responsibility of covering two strategically key points in the Atlantic. The first is known as the “Mid-Atlantic Gap”, located off the coast of Greenland. This gap was a very hostile point in the supply line which was very difficult to take control. With the use of Iceland as a refuelling point and Canada to the west, the gap was narrowed down to 300 nautical miles (555.6 km). “The Surface gap was closed by the Royal Canadian Navy [in 1943]. This Newfoundland escort force started with 5 Canadian corvettes and two British destroyers [manned by Canadian seaman], followed by other Canadian-manned British destroyers when available”.

The second and perhaps most daunting task Canada was given was to control the English channel during Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

 (The Normandy Invasion). “On the 6th of June, 50 RCN escorts were redeployed from the North Atlantic and Canadian Waters for invasion duties”. Their tasks were to cover the flanks of the invasion to ensure submarine defence of the invasion fleet, also to provide distant patrols of the southern flank of the invasion area, and lastly to prevent submarine flotillas in the channel from gaining reinforcements . This invasion relied on the RCN to cover British and American flanks to ensure a successful landing on the beaches of Normandy.

The progression Canada made from 1939 to 1945 is astonishing, going from the limited amount of warships they had to becoming the third largest navy in the world is an achievement in itself, not to mention the role they played in informing the USN in intelligence and the increase in responsibility. Their primary role in protecting merchant ships from North America to Britain was successful. Throughout the war Canada had made 25,343 successful escort voyages delivering 164,783,921 tons of cargo.By the end of the war, German documents state that the Royal Canadian Navy was responsible for the loss of 52 submarines in the Atlantic. In return 59 Canadian merchant ships, and 24 warships were sunk during the battle of the Atlantic.

“Canadians solved the problem of the Atlantic convoys” – British Admiral Sir Percy Noble

HMCS Uganda


The major contribution and sacrifice of Canadians to the Battle of the Atlantic has been referred to. Canada also contributed a cruiser, HMCS Uganda (a British cruiser transferred to the RCN in 1944) to the British Pacific Fleet
British Pacific Fleet
The British Pacific Fleet was a British Commonwealth naval force which saw action against Japan during World War II. The fleet was composed of British Commonwealth naval vessels. The BPF formally came into being on 22 November 1944...

, an Empire fleet in the western Pacific. Conditions aboard, particularly when compared to those enjoyed in the United States Navy, strict discipline and the inability to display a separate Canadian identity, had contributed to poor morale and resentment amongst the crew. In an attempt to nip this in the bud and mindful of the legal rights of Canadians not to serve overseas, the ship's commander, Captain Edmond Rollo Mainguy
Rollo Mainguy
Vice-Admiral Edmond Rollo Mainguy, OBE, CD, RCN was a Canadian naval officer.He was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1901 and attended the Royal Naval College of Canada during World War I....

, invited crew members to register their unwillingness to serve overseas. Of the 907 crew members, 605 did so on May 7 1945.

This decision, which had legal impact, was relayed to Canada and thence to the British government. Reacting to the angry British response, the Canadians agreed to stay on station until replaced. This happened on July 27 1945, when HMS Argonaut
HMS Argonaut (61)
HMS Argonaut was a Dido class cruiser-References:***...

 joined the British Pacific Fleet and Uganda departed for Esquimalt
Esquimalt, British Columbia
The Township of Esquimalt is a municipality at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. It is bordered to the east by the provincial capital, Victoria, to the south by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the west by Esquimalt Harbour and Royal Roads, to the northwest by the...

 arriving on the day of the Japanese surrender.

Attacks in Canadian waters and on the mainland



Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s operated in Canadian and Newfoundland waters throughout the war, sinking many naval and merchant vessels. Two significant attacks took place in 1942 when German U-boats attacked four allied ore
Ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

 carriers at Bell Island
Bell Island
Bell Island is a Canadian island located off Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula in Conception Bay.Measuring 9 km in length and 3 km in width, Bell Island has an area of 34 km²...

, Newfoundland
Dominion of Newfoundland
The Dominion of Newfoundland was a British Dominion from 1907 to 1949 . The Dominion of Newfoundland was situated in northeastern North America along the Atlantic coast and comprised the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the continental mainland...

. The carriers
Cargo ship
A cargo ship or freighter is any sort of ship or vessel that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one port to another. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world's seas and oceans each year; they handle the bulk of international trade...

 S.S. Saganaga and the S.S. Lord Strathcona were sunk by U-513 on September 5, 1942, while the S.S. Rosecastle and P.L.M 27 were sunk by U-518 on November 2 with the loss of 69 lives. When the submarine fired a torpedo at the loading pier, Bell Island
Bell Island
Bell Island is a Canadian island located off Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula in Conception Bay.Measuring 9 km in length and 3 km in width, Bell Island has an area of 34 km²...

 became the only location in North America to be subject to direct attack by German forces in the Second World War. U-boats were also found in the St. Lawrence River; during the night of October 14, 1942, the Newfoundland Railway
Newfoundland Railway
The Newfoundland Railway was a railway which operated on the island of Newfoundland from 1898 to 1988. With a total track length of , it was the longest narrow gauge railway system in North America.-Early construction:...

 ferry, SS Caribou
SS Caribou
The SS Caribou was a passenger ferry used by the Newfoundland government's ferry service between Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and North Sydney, Nova Scotia....

 was torpedoed by German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 U-69 and sunk in the Cabot Strait
Cabot Strait
Cabot Strait is a strait in eastern Canada approximately 110 kilometres wide between Cape Ray, Newfoundland and Cape North, Cape Breton Island. It is the widest of the three outlets for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence into the Atlantic Ocean, the others being the Strait of Belle Isle and Strait of Canso...

 with the loss of 137 lives. The Canadian mainland was also attacked when the Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 submarine I-26
Japanese submarine I-26
I-26 was a Japanese B1 type submarine which saw service in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. She was completed and commissioned at the Kure Dockyard on 6 November 1941, under the command of Commander Yokota Minoru....

 shelled
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 the Estevan Point
Estevan Point
Estevan Point is a lighthouse located on the headland of the same name on the Hesquiat Peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada....

 lighthouse on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

 on June 20, 1942. Japanese fire balloon
Fire balloon
A , or Fu-Go, was a weapon launched by Japan during World War II. A hydrogen balloon with a load varying from a incendiary to one antipersonnel bomb and four incendiary devices attached, they were designed as a cheap weapon intended to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and wreak...

s were also launched at Canada, some reaching British Columbia and the other western provinces.

Dieppe



The Dieppe Raid
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 (Operation Jubilee) of August 19, 1942, landed nearly 5,000 soldiers of the Second Canadian Division and 1,000 British commandos on the coast of occupied France, in the only major combined forces assault on France prior to the Normandy invasion of June 1944. The air and naval support promised by the British did not materialize and as a result the Canadian forces assaulted a heavily defended coast line with no supportive bombardment and the unsupported raid was a disaster.
While Dieppe did provide valuable information on the absolute necessity of close communications in combined operations, of nearly 6,000 troops landed over a thousand were killed and another 2,340 were captured. Two Canadians were recognized with the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 for actions at Dieppe; Lieutenant Colonel "Cec" Merritt
Charles Merritt
Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt VC, ED was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross and Member of Parliament.-Early life:...

 of the South Saskatchewan Regiment and Honorary Captain John Foote
John Weir Foote
John Weir Foote, VC , CD was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces...

 of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. The value of the Dieppe Raid is a matter of some controversy; some historians feel that it was largely because of Dieppe that the Allies decided not to attempt an assault on a seaport in their first invasion of occupied western Europe, others would point to the large number of amphibious operations before and after Dieppe as evidence that nothing new was learned there.

Italy



While Canadians served at sea, in the air, and in small numbers attached to Allied formations and independently, the invasion of Sicily
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...

 was the first full scale combat engagement by full Canadian divisions since World War I. Canadian soldiers went ashore in 1943 in the Allied invasions of Sicily and mainland Italy
Allied invasion of Italy
The Allied invasion of Italy was the Allied landing on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943, by General Harold Alexander's 15th Army Group during the Second World War. The operation followed the successful invasion of Sicily during the Italian Campaign...

, then fought through the long Italian Campaign
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

. During the course of the Italian Campaign, over 25,000 Canadian soldiers became casualties of war.

The 1st Canadian Division and the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...

 in Operation Husky, 10 July 1943 and also the Allied invasion of mainland Italy
Allied invasion of Italy
The Allied invasion of Italy was the Allied landing on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943, by General Harold Alexander's 15th Army Group during the Second World War. The operation followed the successful invasion of Sicily during the Italian Campaign...

 on September 3, 1943. Canadian participation in the Sicily and Italy campaigns were made possible after the government decided to break up the First Canadian Army
First Canadian Army
The First Canadian Army was the senior Canadian operational formation in Europe during the Second World War.The Army was formed in early 1942, replacing the existing unnumbered Canadian Corps, as the growing number of Canadian forces in the United Kingdom necessitated an expansion to two corps...

, sitting idle in Britain. Public pressure for Canadian troops to begin fighting forced a move before the awaited invasion of northwest Europe. Troops fought on through the long and difficult Italian campaign until redeployed to North-West Europe in February–March 1945 during Operation Goldflake
Operation Goldflake
Operation Goldflake was the administrative move of I Canadian Corps from Italy to North-West Europe during the Second World War. British-led forces had been fighting in Italy since the invasion of Sicily in July 1943...

. By this time the Canadian contribution to the Italian theatre had grown to include I Canadian Corps
I Canadian Corps
I Canadian Corps was one of the two corps fielded by the Canadian Army during World War II. From December 24, 1940 until the formation of the First Canadian Army in April 1942, there was a single unnumbered Canadian Corps...

 headquarters, the 1st Division, 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division
5th Canadian (Armoured) Division
5th Canadian Division was a Canadian division during World War II. Following its redesignation from '1st Canadian Armoured Division', the bulk proceeded overseas in one main convoy, arriving in the UK at the end of November 1941....

 and an independent armoured brigade. Three Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

es were awarded to Canadian Army troops in Italy; Captain Paul Triquet
Paul Triquet
Paul Triquet, VC, CD was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:...

 of the Royal 22e Régiment
Royal 22e Régiment
The Royal 22nd Regiment is an infantry regiment and the most famous francophone organization of the Canadian Forces. The regiment comprises three Regular Force battalions, two Primary Reserve battalions, and a band, making it the largest regiment in the Canadian Army...

, Private Smokey Smith
Ernest Smith
Ernest Alvia Smith, VC, CM, OBC, CD was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces...

 of The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada is a light infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces Primary Reserve based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The regiment is subordinate to 39 Canadian Brigade Group, Land Forces Western Area...

, and Major John Mahoney
John Keefer Mahony
John Keefer Mahony VC was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:...

 of The Westminster Regiment
The Royal Westminster Regiment
The Royal Westminster Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces Primary Reserve. It is based in New Westminster, British Columbia at The Armouries, located at the corner of 6th and Queens....

 (Motor). Notable battles in Italy included The Moro River Campaign
The Moro River Campaign
The Moro River Campaign was a military campaign during the Second World War fought between units of the British 8th Army and the LXXVI Panzer Corps of the German Tenth Army . Lasting from 4–26 December 1943, the campaign occurred primarily in the vicinity of the Moro River in eastern Italy...

, the Battle of Ortona
Battle of Ortona
The Battle of Ortona was a small, yet extremely fierce, battle fought between a battalion of German Fallschirmjäger from the German 1st Parachute Division under Generalleutnant Richard Heidrich, and assaulting Canadian forces from the 1st Canadian Infantry Division under Major General Chris Vokes...

 and the battles to break the Hitler Line
Hitler Line
The Hitler Line was a German defensive line in central Italy during the Second World War. The strong points of the line were at Aquino and Piedimonte. In May 1944, the line was re-named the Senger Line, after General von Senger und Etterlin, one of the generals commanding Axis forces in the area...

.

Conscription Crisis and Quebec



The political astuteness of Mackenzie King, combined with much greater military sensitivity to Quebec volunteers resulted in a conscription crisis
Conscription Crisis of 1944
The Conscription Crisis of 1944 was a political and military crisis following the introduction of forced military service in Canada during World War II. It was similar to the Conscription Crisis of 1917, but was not as politically damaging....

 that was minor compared to that of the First World War. French-Canadian volunteers were front and centre, in their own units, throughout the war, highlighted by actions at Dieppe (Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal
Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal
Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal is one of the oldest surviving units of the historical regiments of the Canadian army. It celebrated its regimental centenary in 1969. The unit was created on November 5, 1869...

), Italy (Royal 22e Régiment
Royal 22e Régiment
The Royal 22nd Regiment is an infantry regiment and the most famous francophone organization of the Canadian Forces. The regiment comprises three Regular Force battalions, two Primary Reserve battalions, and a band, making it the largest regiment in the Canadian Army...

), the Normandy beaches (Le Régiment de la Chaudière
Le Régiment de la Chaudière
The Régiment de la Chaudière is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces.-Insignia:The regimental insignia consists of two crossed machine guns, surmounted by a beaver supporting a fleur-de-lys...

), the thrust into Holland (Le Régiment de Maisonneuve
Le Régiment de Maisonneuve
Le Régiment de Maisonneuve is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Forces.The regiment is Canada's twenty-sixth most senior reserve infantry regiment, and comprises one battalion serving as part of the Land Force Reserve.-History:...

), and in the bombing campaign over Germany (No. 425 Squadron RCAF
No. 425 Squadron RCAF
425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, also "Alouette" Squadron, is a unit of the Royal Canadian Air Force. It operates CF-188 Hornet fighter jets from CFB Bagotville in Quebec, Canada...

).

D-Day and Normandy



On June 6, 1944, the 3rd Canadian Division landed on Juno Beach
Juno Beach
Juno or Juno Beach was one of five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during the Second World War. The sector spanned from Saint-Aubin, a village just east of the British Gold sector, to Courseulles, just west of the British Sword sector...

 in the Battle of Normandy
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

 and sustained 50% casualties in their first hour of attack. By the end of D-Day, the Canadians had penetrated deeper into France than either the British or the American troops at their landing sites, overcoming stronger resistance than any of the other beachheads except Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II...

. In the first month of the Normandy campaign, Canadian, British and Polish troops were opposed by some of the strongest and best trained German troops in the theatre, including the 1st SS Division
1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguard. Initially the size of a regiment, the LSSAH eventually grew into a divisional-sized unit...

, the 12th SS Division
12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend was a German Waffen SS armoured division during World War II. The Hitlerjugend was unique because the majority of its junior enlisted men were drawn from members of the Hitler Youth, while the senior NCOs and officers were generally veterans of the Eastern...

 and the Panzer-Lehr-Division. Several costly operations were mounted by the Canadians to fight a path to the pivotal city of Caen
Caen
Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

 and then south towards Falaise
Falaise, Calvados
Falaise is a commune in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.-History:The town was the birthplace of William I the Conqueror, first of the Norman Kings of England. The Château de Falaise , which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of...

, part of the Allied attempt to liberate Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Canadian troops played a heavy role in the liberation of Paris. Some feel that Canadian inexperience during the battle to close the Falaise Gap allowed German forces to escape destruction, but by the time the First Canadian Army linked up with U.S. forces, the destruction of the German Army in Normandy was nearly complete. Three Victoria Crosses were earned by Canadians in Northwest Europe; Major David Currie
David Vivian Currie
David Vivian Currie, VC, CD , was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Biography:...

 of the South Alberta Regiment
South Alberta Regiment
The South Alberta Regiment was a Canadian infantry regiment which served in the Second World War. The unit was created in 1924 and mobilized in 1940 as part of the 4th Canadian Infantry Division...

 won the Victoria Cross for his actions at Saint-Lambert-sur-Dive
Saint-Lambert
-People:Saint-Lambert may refer to:*Saint Lambert of Maastricht - Bishop in the 7th century and Christian saint*Jean François de Saint-Lambert - a French poet-Canada:*Saint-Lambert, Quebec*Saint-Lambert...

, Captain Frederick Tilston
Frederick Albert Tilston
Frederick Albert Tilston, VC was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

 of the Essex Scottish and Sergeant Aubrey Cosens
Aubrey Cosens
Aubrey Cosens, VC, was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Military service:Cosens was 23 years old and a sergeant in The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada...

 of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada were rewarded for their service in the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

 fighting in 1945, the latter posthumously.

The Low Countries




One of the most important Canadian contributions was the Battle of the Scheldt
Battle of the Scheldt
The Battle of the Scheldt was a series of military operations of the Canadian 1st Army, led by Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds. The battle took place in northern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands during World War II from 2 October-8 November 1944...

, involving the II Canadian Corps
II Canadian Corps
II Canadian Corps was a corps-level formation that, along with I Corps and I Canadian Corps , comprised the First Canadian Army in Northwest Europe during World War II.Authorization for the formation of the Corps headquarters became effective in England on...

. The Corps included the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division
2nd Canadian Infantry Division
The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division was an infantry division of the First Canadian Army, mobilized on 1 September 1939 at the outset of the Second World War. It was initially composed of volunteers within brigades established along regional lines, though a halt in recruitment in the early months of...

, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division
3rd Canadian Infantry Division
The Canadian 3rd Infantry Division was an infantry division of the Canadian Army from 1940 to c.1945.- History :The formation of the division was authorized on 17 May 1940...

 and 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division
4th Canadian (Armoured) Division
The 4th Canadian Division was created by the conversion of the 4th Canadian Infantry Division at the beginning of 1942 in Canada. The division proceeded overseas in 1942, with its two main convoys reaching the United Kingdom in August and October....

. Although nominally a Canadian formation, II Canadian Corps contained the Polish 1st Armoured Division
Polish 1st Armoured Division
The Polish 1st Armoured Division was an Allied military unit during World War II, created in February 1942 at Duns in Scotland. At its peak it numbered approximately 16,000 soldiers...

, the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade
1st Belgian Infantry Brigade
The Belgian 1st Infantry Brigade, also known as the "Brigade Piron", after its commander, Jean-Baptiste Piron, was a Belgian and Luxembourger army unit which fought in World War II...

, the Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade
Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade
During the Second World War the Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade was a military unit initially formed from approximately 1500 Dutch troops, including a small group guarding German POWs, who arrived in the United Kingdom in May 1940 following the collapse of the Netherlands...

, and the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division.

The British had liberated Antwerp, but that city's port could not be used until the Germans were driven from the heavily fortified Scheldt
Scheldt
The Scheldt is a 350 km long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands...

 estuary. In several weeks of heavy fighting in the fall of 1944, the Canadians succeeded in defeating the Germans in this region. The Canadians then turned east and played a central role in the liberation of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

.

The royal family
House of Orange-Nassau
The House of Orange-Nassau , a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War...

 of the Netherlands eventually moved to Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

 until the Netherlands were liberated, and Princess Margriet
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands
Princess Margriet Francisca of the Netherlands is the third daughter of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands...

 was born during this Canadian exile. In 1944-45, First Canadian Army
First Canadian Army
The First Canadian Army was the senior Canadian operational formation in Europe during the Second World War.The Army was formed in early 1942, replacing the existing unnumbered Canadian Corps, as the growing number of Canadian forces in the United Kingdom necessitated an expansion to two corps...

 was responsible for liberating much of the Netherlands from German occupation.
Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, the only child of then–Queen Wilhelmina and heir to the throne, sought refuge in Canada with her two daughters, Beatrix and Irene, during the war.
During Princess Juliana’s stay in Canada, preparations were made for the birth of her third child. To ensure the Dutch citizenship of this royal baby, the Canadian Parliament passed a special law declaring Princess Juliana’s suite at the Ottawa Civic Hospital “extraterritorial”. On January 19, 1943, Princess Margriet was born. The day after Princess Margriet’s birth, the Dutch flag was flown on the Peace Tower. This was the only time a foreign flag has waved atop Canada’s Parliament Buildings.

In 1945, the people of the Netherlands sent 100,000 hand-picked tulip bulbs as a post-war gift for the role played by Canadian soldiers in the liberation of the Netherlands. These tulips were planted on Parliament Hill and along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway.

Princess Juliana was so pleased at the prominence given to the gift that in 1946, she decided to send a personal gift of 20,000 tulip bulbs to show her gratitude for the hospitality received in Ottawa. The gift was part of a lifelong bequest. Since then, tulips have proliferated in Ottawa as a symbol of peace, freedom and international friendship. Every year, Canada’s capital receives 10,000 bulbs from the Dutch royal family.

See also


  • Military history of Canada
    Military history of Canada
    The military history of Canada comprises hundreds of years of armed actions in the territory encompassing modern Canada, and the role of the Canadian military in conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide. For thousands of years, the area that would become Canada was the site of sporadic intertribal wars...

  • George Stanley
    George Stanley
    Colonel George Francis Gillman Stanley, OC, CD, KStJ, DPhil, FRSC, FRHistS, FRHSC was a historian, author, soldier, teacher, public servant, and designer of the current Canadian flag.-Career:...

    , Canadian military historian, soldier, designer of Canadian flag, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick
  • Canada in the World Wars and Interwar Years
    Canada in the World Wars and Interwar Years
    During the World Wars and Interwar Years Canada experienced economic gain, more freedom for women and new technological advancements.-World War I:...

  • Organization of Canadian Army rifle sections during World War II
    Organization of Canadian Army rifle sections during World War II
    During the Second World War, the Canadian Army used the Rifle Section as its smallest organized formation of combat infantry soldiers. The organization was substantially similar to that of the Australian Army and from 1944 the British Army used the same structure with 3 sections to the platoon and...

  • Dominion Communist – Labor Total War Committee

Further reading


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External links