Canada played a critical role in World War II. At the time, it had a population of only 11 million. Nonetheless, about one million men and women served full-time in the armed services with approximately 43,000 losing their lives during World War II. Canada was part of the Allied powers which consisted of Great Britain, France, Soviet Union, China, and the United States. These nations fought against the Axis Powers that composed of Germany, Italy, and Japan, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.
Joining World War II
Canada participated in World War I, which resulted in massive debts, the tragic loss of lives, and compromise of the country’s unity. The thought of another war did not go well with many political parties, the public, and the government. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie was ready to give up on the war in solidarity with the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who advocated for appeasing Germany’s Adolf Hitler. However, with the advancement of the Nazi Regime and its outrageous policies that disregarded human rights, Britain relinquished its position and joined the war. Canada entered World War II on September 10, 1939.
Canada’s Role In World War II
Canada joined World War II in the United Kingdom by supplementing the British Expeditionary Forces (BEF). At first, its purpose was to protect the British Isles from external attack. Later on, it joined other British forces in fighting the war. A group of Canadian armed forces joined forces with the British, Hong Kong, and Indian troops to protect Hong Kong, a British colony, form the Japanese Invasion. The Japanese fought hard. Many soldiers defending Hong Kong died at war, some were captured and yet others tortured to death.
Consequently, the number of the armed forces dwindled at a high rate causing the British to surrender on Christmas Day of 1941. Canadian soldiers also took part in the Dieppe Raid from August 19, 1942. Out of 5,000 Canadian soldiers, only 2000 returned to Europe at the end of the raid. Approximately 1000 died whereas 2000 were taken captive. At the Battle of Germany, on February 1945, Canada’s First Army launched an attack in the Reichswald Forest pushing the Germans back to the Rhine. The Germans finally surrendered on May 5, 1945. Canada also played a significant role in the liberation of the Netherlands.
Besides fighting on land, Canada also had armed forces at sea and on air. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) contributed to World War II by granting convoy escort across the Atlantic, Murmansk in the USSR, and the Mediterranean. They had a team of 100,000 personnel and 400 vessels for their operations. On the other hand, the Canadian airmen (Royal Canadian Air Force-RCAF) fought in the Battle of Italy, Britain, North Africa, and the Normandy Invasion.
Impact Of World War II On Canada
World War II positively impacted Canada’s relations with the world and its public. The soldiers won Canada a legacy of proud service and sacrifice. Its participation in the war paved the way for Canada’s membership in NATO. As a nation, World War II elevated the role of women in the economy and boosted Canada’s industrial sector. Although Canada went back home with reports of death and injury of many of its soldiers, the Second World War was a defining moment in Canadian history.