|Full Name||Dominion of Canada|
|Alliance||Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Possessing Power||United Kingdom|
|Entry into WW2||10 Sep 1939|
|Population in 1939||11,267,000|
|Military Deaths in WW2||45,300|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
On the eve of the European War in 1939, Canada only had a population of 11 million people despite its vast size. Her army was small, her navy was but a fleet of 15 ships, and her air force consisted only of 275 aircraft most of which were obsolete. Despite the lack of military strength, she had great war potential. When Britain declared war on Germany, Prime Minister Mackenzie King called for Parliament debates on whether Canada should also join in the war beside Britain. On 10 Sep 1939, Canada produced a declaration of war for the approval of King George VI of the United Kingdom, which was approved immediately. In the mean time, Canada did not sit idle. In the ten days since Germany's invasion of Poland, Canada purchased US$20,000,000 worth of arms from the United States in preparation for war.
The Canadian Army was the largest branch of the Canadian military at the start of the European War; it had 4,261 officers and men in the permanent army and 51,000 in the reserves. That number grew dramatically during the course of the war. By mid-1942, the size of the Canadian Army increased to over 400,000, and by the end of the war, over 730,000 men and women. Initially lacking properly equipment and weapons, the Allied war effort quickly remedied that problem. Famously, the bravery of Canadian troops contributed to the Allied victories at Sicily and Normandy. On the industrial front, Canadian factories built more than 800,000 trucks for the Allied war effort. Many historians, including those who wrote the British Official History, cited Canada's truck production being Canada's greatest contribution to the eventual Allied victory. Soldiers of the Canadian Army fought in the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, the Dieppe Raid in 1942, the invasion of Sicily and then Italy in 1943, the Normandy landings in 1944, the liberation of the Netherlands, and the advance into the heart of Germany that ended in 1945.
The Royal Canadian Navy boasted only a small fleet of 15 ships, but the mere 1,800 officers in active service were very well trained, thanks to exchange programs with the British Royal Navy. With a sound echelon of leaders, when the Canadian industries began increasing naval production, the RCN had little trouble finding capable officers to command them. At the end of the war, the RCN operated a powerful fleet of small ships, mainly destroyers and corvettes, that played a critical role in escorting Allied convoys across the Atlantic Ocean; by 1944, RCN ships also had an increased presence in the Pacific Ocean. When the war ended in 1945, the RCN suddenly found itself as the world's third-largest navy with 95,000 personnel (which included 6,000 women) and 471 ships. In addition to building most of the 471 naval ships, the Canadian industries also built over 400 merchant ships between 1939 and 1945; these merchant ships completed more than 25,000 trips across the Atlantic.
In Sep 1939, the Royal Canadian Air Force had 4,061 personnel, only 235 of which were pilots. Out of the 275 aircraft available, only 19 were considered modern. The RCAF was the weakest of Canada's military branches, but that did not diminish Canada's contribution to the Allied war effort in the air at the start. During WW2, Canada ran the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which trained 131,553 air crew, which included 49,507 pilots; more than 70,000 of the 131,553 were Canadian. The RCAF's contribution should not be ignored, as by 1945 it boasted 86 squadrons and 249,000 personnel (17,000 were women); they played a part in the Allied advance across Western Europe, among other successful campaigns. In addition, thousands of Canadians fought under the banner of the British Royal Air Force. On the civilian front, Canada produced more than 16,000 aircraft of various types. President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt praised Canada as the "aerodrome of democracy".
During the war, Canada supplied 40% of the Allies' total aluminum production. The number for nickel was even higher at 95%. Wheat production was also increased dramatically, along with other civilian products that aided the war effort.
Source: Armchair Reader World War II.
|Aikman, Frederick||Keller, Rodney||Simonds, Guy|
|Aitken, Maxwell||King, Mackenzie||Slotin, Louis|
|Crerar, Henry||McNaughton, Andrew|
Events Taken Place in Canada
|Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians||1 Jan 1942 - 1 Apr 1949|
|Quadrant Conference||14 Aug 1943 - 24 Aug 1943|
|Octagon Conference||11 Sep 1944 - 16 Sep 1944|
Visitor Submitted Comments
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
- » Wreck of I-400 discovered off Hawaii (2013.12.03)
- » 93-year-old former Auschwitz guard charged (2013.09.26)
- » Discovered naval mine detonated off New Jersey (2013.06.28)
- » See all news
- » 757 biographies
- » 307 events
- » 28381 timeline entries
- » 681 ships
- » 306 aircraft models
- » 163 vehicle models
- » 254 weapon models
- » 70 historical documents
- » 308 book reviews
- » 216 maps
- » 17449 photos, 1535 in color
Winston Churchill, on the RAF