Trg Cornwallis

                                            Basic Training Begins

Declaration of WWII – 10 September 1939


          I have little memory of World War II being declared. I do remember my Father, Alvin MacLean and Peter Burton all leaving and going to Halifax to join up. Peter Burton and Alvin MacLean got accepted. Daddy was turned down because of age – he was too old. He joked for years after about the recruiters in Halifax saying to him, “you’re too old right now Simon but if Hitler gets to Newfoundland, we’ll call you.” I think Daddy would have made a good soldier certainly a good sniper. He was a good shot, had patience as a hunter and could perform with efficiency on his own, was an excellent hunter and could as he often said himself, “get down wind of a deer and walk right up and kick him in the arse.” Those skills would have stood him in good stead as a sniper.

 The Rhine

                                  Canadians take Smoke Break – On the Rhine

On September 9, 1939, the address to the Canadian Parliament was approved without a recorded vote, and war was declared the following day September 10, 1939. The basis for parliamentary unity had in fact been laid in March, when both major parties accepted a program rejecting conscription for overseas service. Prime Minister King clearly envisaged a limited effort and was lukewarm towards an expeditionary force. Nevertheless, there was enough pressure to lead the Cabinet to dispatch one army division to Europe. The Allies’ defeat in France and Belgium in the early summer of 1940 and the collapse of France frightened Canadians. The idea of limited and economical war went by the board, and thereafter the only effective limitation was the pledge against overseas conscription. The armed forces were rapidly enlarged, conscription was introduced June 1940 for home defence.

 At Sea                                            Burial at Sea – Committed to the Deep

The army expanded until by late 1942 there were 5 divisions overseas, 2 of them armoured. In April of that year the FIRST CANADIAN ARMY was formed in England under Lieutenant-General A.G.L. MCNAUGHTON. In contrast with WWI, it was a long time before the army saw large-scale action. Until summer 1943 the force in England was engaged only in the unsuccessful DIEPPE RAID (19 August 1942), whereas 2 battalions sent from Canada had taken part in the hopeless defence of HONG KONG against the Japanese in December 1941. Public opinion in Canada became disturbed by the inaction, and disagreement developed between the government and McNaughton, who wished to reserve the army for a final, decisive campaign.

Four Devoes

Major Contribution by Mr & Mrs Howard Devoe

The government arranged with Britain for the 1st Canadian Infantry Division to join the attack on Sicily July 1943, and subsequently insisted upon building its Mediterranean force up to a 2-division corps (by adding the 5th Division). This produced a serious clash with McNaughton, just when the British War Office, which considered him unsuited for field command, was influencing the Canadian government against him. At the end of 1943 he was replaced by Lieutenant-General H.D.G. CRERAR.

The 1st Division was heavily engaged in the Sicilian campaign as part of the British Eighth Army, and subsequently took part in the December 1943 advance up the mainland of Italy, seeing particularly severe fighting in and around Ortona. In the spring of 1944 Canadians under Lieutenant-General E.L.M. BURNS played a leading role in breaking the Hitler Line barring the Liri Valley. At the end of August the corps broke the Gothic Line in the Adriatic sector and pushed on through the German positions covering Rimini, which fell in September. These battles cost Canada its heaviest casualties of the Italian campaign.


                     German Prisoners – In the control of Canadians

The final phase of Canadian involvement in Italy found the 1st Canadian Corps,

now commanded by Lieutenant-General Charles FOULKES, fighting its way across

the Lombard Plain, hindered by mud and swift-flowing rivers. The Corps’ advance

ended at the Senio River in the first days of 1945. The Canadian government,

so eager to get its troops into action in Italy, had soon begun to ask for their

 return to join the main Canadian force in Northwest Europe. Allied policy

finally made this possible early in 1945, and the 1st Corps came under the

First Canadian Army’s command in mid-March, to the general satisfaction

of the men from Italy. All told, 92,757 Canadian soldiers of all ranks had

served in Italy, and 5764 had lost their lives.

 Navy Try

                                                     RCN – Gunnery Training



1944 – Canada was a full partner in the success of the Allied landings in

Normandy (D – Day) Determined to end four years of often-brutal German

occupation, on 6 June 1944,

Allied Forces invaded Western Europe along an 80-kilometre front in

Normandy, France.

 Of the nearly 150,000 Allied troops who landed or parachuted into

the invasion area,

14,000 were Canadians. They assaulted a beachfront code-named

“Juno”, while Canadian

paratroopers landed just east of the assault beaches. Although

the Allies encountered

 German defences bristling with artillery, machine guns, mines,

 and booby-traps, the

invasion was a success.rcaf3                                                                   Ready for the Wild Blue Yonder 

Other Canadians helped achieve this victory. The Royal Canadian

Navy contributed

110 ships and 10,000 sailors in support of the landings while the R.C.A.F.

had helped

prepare the invasion by bombing targets inland. On D- Day and during

the ensuing

 campaign, 15 R.C.A.F. fighter and fighter-bomber squadrons helped

control the skies

over Normandy and attacked enemy targets. On D-Day, Canadians

suffered 1074

casualties, including 359 killed.

 USN Wave

                Smart Girl


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