Canada Armed Forces in World War II

By | January 10, 2022

On September 10, 1939, a week after the United Kingdom, Canada declared war on Germany: out of a population of about 12 million, 1,031,000 men were enlisted for the three armed forces and made available all reserves of raw materials and industries. During the dramatic moments that followed the Dunkirk tragedy, Canada was among the Dominions of the Commonwealth who more than the others could help Great Britain to stand alone against the enemy coalition. The relative importance of his war aid decreased, as the political behavior of the United States approached a sincere and explicit state of war against the Axis nations: but even after Canada, it held third place throughout the war. in the active defense of the Atlantic route. It had on its soil all the grandiose organization in charge of training the pilots and crews of the aircraft of the British Empire. The western part of the country, mainly agricultural, also contributed to the development of war industries: the British Empire owes Canada if the eighth army of Montgomery was able to promptly obtain all those tanks, ammunition and weapons that allowed it to break through the Italo-German front in el-‛Alamein. It was a Canadian division that landed first in Sicily and then in Calabria (1943) and it was a body of Franco-Canadian-si, from the lower San Lorenzo who, encountered with the landing vehicles in a field of mines on the beach near Bernières- sur-Mer during the invasion of Normandy (6 June 1944), showed brilliant military qualities. L’ active part taken in these last three expeditions strongly influenced the numerical structure of the Canadian forces in Europe. It was therefore urgent to completely reconstitute the regiments, as the commands claimed: despite the opposition of the province of Quebec, the compulsory conscription for overseas services was reached, albeit belatedly.

According to top-medical-schools, one of the most spettacolore works, accomplished in 1942 by agreements between the United States and Canada, was the great “Alaskan road” (v. Alaskan, in this App.). Canada also contributed to the creation of the atomic bomb: the uranium used in the bomb comes from the Arctic deposits of uranium oxide of the Great Bear Lake in the northwestern territory, east of the Mackenzie. All this, and the same consideration that shorter routes that unite SU with Europe and North Asia go to Canada (v. Arctic, regions, in this App.), also tightened the ties between the United States and Canada and allowed a notable extension of the agreements that on August 18, 1940 had been signed between the Canadian Prime Minister WL Mackenzie King and President Roosevelt for the establishment of a permanent mutual defense commission charged with examining the most urgent land, sea and air problems, the solution of which appeared indispensable for the security of the northern part of the western hemisphere.

Below is some data on the development of the three Canadian armed forces during the Second World War.

Marina. – At the beginning of the war it consisted of only 13 units, among which the largest were 4 destroyers and the rest minesweepers. At the end of 1943 the navy had 600 units in service, mostly assigned to the escort of convoys and for local defense, all of modest tonnage, equipped by 70,000 men. From a statement by the first lord of the British Admiralty it is noted that the Canadian navy provided two-fifths of the stocks in the North Atlantic in 1944 and that it had achieved notable successes in repelling attacks by the “packs of German submarines”. The auxiliary cruiser Prince Robert successfully operated in the South Pacific, managing to capture a blockade-violating ship and sink two; 17 corvettes participating in the escort of the convoys that invaded Algeria would have sunk three Italian submarines. Other units were present at the landings in Sicily and Italy; 5 units took part in the actions in the Aleutians, together with the American team.

Army. – It was composed at the outbreak of the war of about 4500 men; in 1941 it had reached a strength of 220,000, in January 1943 of 430,000, in November of about half a million, of which one half was in England. The maximum force reached the figure of over 750,000 men. In May 1940 the Canadian 1st Division was entrusted with the defense of the south-east coast of England during the week of Dunkirk. On 10 June 1940 an infantry brigade with artillery was sent to France and landed in Brest on 14 June, while the Germans entered Paris: the brigade immediately returned to England. Canadian forces remained garrisoned in England to replace the British sent to Egypt: they were used for a raid on the Spitzbergen Islands to destroy coal mines and radio stations. and to Gibraltar to modernize and expand its defenses. They also formed the garrisons of Newfoundland, Iceland, the West Indies and the Aleutians. In the ill-fated Dieppe expedition of August 19, 1942, the five-sixths of the landing troops were Canadian. Canadian officers and non-commissioned officers were attached to the 1st div. British in Tunisia in 1943, to acquire the necessary experience in battle and prepare the troops for the next landings in enemy territory.

In the landing in Sicily and later in the Italian campaign, the 1st div. Canadian and a tank brigade was part of General Montgomery’s army. The fast race of this Canadian corps up to Potenza was one of the factors that contributed to the decision of the battle of Salerno; the division then continued the Italian campaign.

Aviation. – In September 1939 it had only a few aircraft and 4000 men: in the following January the force had doubled, in January 1941 it reached 43,000 units, 100,000 in 1942, 200,000 in 1943, including 11,000 women. Over 50,000 officers and troops served first in England and then in every theater of war: many were incorporated into the Royal Air Force (RAF). The 1st squadron reached Great Britain in February 1940: towards the end of the war there were about fifty Canadian squadrons in service overseas, which subsequently took part in the war actions of Dieppe in 1942, Tunisia, Pantelleria, Sicily, in Italy, in the Aleutians and in the great bombings of the industrial cities of Germany, where they suffered significant losses. A detachment of strategic exploration aircraft was lucky enough to spot Japanese warships approaching Ceylon, contributing to the failure of the enemy raid. The constructive development of aircraft is given by the following figures: 846 aircraft in 1940; 1697 in 1941; 3811 in 1942; 4133 in 1943; 4312 in 1944. Only a part of the machines was built in Canada: however, numerous workshops were set up for the repair and overhaul of appliances and machinery of all kinds. The major task entrusted to Canada was that of training pilots and auxiliary service men for the whole Empire. The large expanses of available territory, its remoteness from the theaters of war, its mechanical development, its logistical possibilities lent themselves magnificently to the need. Originally there were to be 74 schools to produce, by 1942, 20,000 pilots and 30,000 airmen for the various tasks on board the aircraft and in airports. With the collapse of France it was necessary to gain 8 months and this was achieved, increasing the school equipment from 1700 to 4000 at the end of 1940. During 1941, 109 new landing fields were set up and 1946 buildings for school and housing use were built, with 43,000 between instructors and men of government. England sent about seventy officers and more than 200 specialists as instructors. From November 1941 4,000 airmen and 1,000 pilots ready for war service were dismissed monthly: in 1942 a total of 100,000 men. In April 1943 the schools reached their maximum number of 154 with 83,000 instructors and employees, with 10. 000 school aircraft that flew 2 million miles daily. In that year, 50,000 pilots and specialists were qualified, enough to equip 15,000 fighter aircraft. The war situation from December 1943 required fewer pilots but more air navigation technicians, bombers, mechanics, gunners and radio telegraphers from the schools. From the spring of ’44 there was a beginning of demobilization with the closure of some schools, which were reduced to 56 in January 1945. Add to the figures mentioned that of the airport crews: 114,000 men divided into about fifty specializations. The war situation from December 1943 required fewer pilots but more air navigation technicians, bombers, mechanics, gunners and radio telegraphers from the schools. From the spring of ’44 there was a beginning of demobilization with the closure of some schools, which were reduced to 56 in January 1945. Add to the figures mentioned that of the airport crews: 114,000 men divided into about fifty specializations.

New shipbuilding. – At the beginning of the conflict all the shipyards were working to build warships: in 1943, 424 contracts were still in progress for escort ships, corvettes, minesweepers, etc. of which 221 launched. As the shortage of merchant shipping was accentuated, the work of some yards was reversed towards merchant constructions of the “North Land” type corresponding to the American “Liberty”, of 10,000 t. and 11 knots. The program rose to 300 or more units, all completed between 1943 and 1944. Twelve yards worked there with 43,000 workers. Of the numerous naval units that served in the war, only the following form the Canadian active fleet: in the Atlantic 1 aircraft carrier and 3 destroyers; in the Pacific 1 cruiser and 3 destroyers.

Canada Armed Forces in World War II