Canada

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.

People

Aikman, FrederickKeller, RodneySimonds, Guy
Aitken, MaxwellKing, MackenzieSlotin, Louis
Crerar, HenryMcNaughton, Andrew

Events Taken Place in Canada

Internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians1 Jan 1942 - 1 Apr 1949
Quadrant Conference14 Aug 1943 - 24 Aug 1943
Octagon Conference11 Sep 1944 - 16 Sep 1944

Ships

AnticostiTrillium

Vehicles

C15TAKangarooRamSexton

Photographs

Franklin Roosevelt, the Earl of Athlone, Mckenzie King, and Winston Churchill on the terrace at the Citadelle, Quebec, Canada, Aug 1943Louis Mountbatten, John Dill, Hastings Ismay, Ernest King, Henry Arnold, William Leahy, Kenneth Stuart, Percy Nelles, and George Marshall at Château Frontenac during Quebec Conference, Canada, Aug 1943



Canada in World War II Interactive Map




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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Alan Chanter says:
    30 Dec 2007 03:54:09 AM

    In Italy the Canadians displayed a considerable talent for street fighting. It has been noted that, whenever a British Battalion was undertaking a mission that was likely to involve street fighting, it was quite a normal occurrance for the Canadians to be called upon to provide instructors for training.
  2. Alan Chanter says:
    30 Dec 2007 03:57:21 AM

    Nice to see the correct Canadian flag being depicted-The current flag not being adopted until 1965. Well Done
  3. Andy Banman says:
    8 Feb 2009 09:52:30 PM

    Canadian involvement in world affairs is often portrayed as passive and insignificant. Events of WWI and WWII clearly reveal that Canada will not hesitate to fight and is a powerful ally despite its small population.
  4. Anonymous says:
    5 Mar 2009 08:45:59 AM

    Go canada!

    There's nothing here about them making tanks for commonwealth and soviets though. Itsn't that another huge contribution?
  5. RENEE VERRET says:
    14 Mar 2009 11:48:27 AM

    MY FATHER WAS IN THE CANADIAN ARMY .HIS NAME WAS RENE........ANYONE KNOW OF HIM?......THANKS
  6. Bob Guild says:
    8 Apr 2009 12:13:23 PM

    My dad specialized in aluminum and bronze during his 40+ year career in the foundry. During the war he worked for AA Aluminum Foundry in Vancouver BC. Came to the States after the war. At AA Aluminum, they were making this new 'skin' for state-of-the-art aircraft. Due to his knowledge and foundry skills, he was deemed an 'important person' and not allowed overseas with his buddies as they joined up with the RAF and Armies of Canada and Great Britain. He did spend some time in Vernon BC in the Reserves, but stayed within the Province. Thanks for the information - I'm researching our family history and didn't know much of this. Great info.
  7. Anonymous says:
    8 May 2009 11:00:31 AM

    Great info. This really helped me with my research. Thanks!
  8. CdnHistoryTeacher says:
    6 Jun 2009 11:47:15 PM

    I know that the major WWI Canadian battlefields include Ypres, Somme, Beaumont-Hamel, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele.

    "To the south of the Canadians, the 1st British Corps entered the city of Le Havre on September 3. In the meantime, the troops of the 1st Polish Armoured Division crossed the Somme and led the 2nd Canadian Corps as they drove northward. On September 5, the 4th Canadian Armoured Division took St. Omer and on the 6th crossed the Franco-Belgian border and overcame enemy forces at Ypres and Passchendaele (sites of well-known First World War Canadian battles). On September 7 they reached Roulers, Belgium."

    source: http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?sourcehistory/secondwar/belgium/road

    Are there any records/documents/memoirs of WWI veterans who returned to these same battlefields during WWII in the liberation of Belgium?

    if so, I can only imagine the shear horror of retracing their steps!
  9. gary r hepburn says:
    24 Aug 2009 06:46:23 PM

    great site peter-i was wondering how do i find info on my father's russell james hepburn journey as he spoke rarely - on the war and has since passed away i know he spoke of holland- and italy can you steer me in the right direction and thx so much keep up to good work sir
  10. Zak says:
    7 Sep 2009 10:45:55 PM

    Then there's the role of Canadian Spy Master, William Stephenson, especially trusted by Winston Churchill for special missions.

    "Sir William Samuel Stephenson, CC, MC, DFC (January 23, 1897 – January 31, 1989) was a Canadian soldier, airman, businessperson, inventor, spymaster, and the senior representative of British intelligence for the entire western hemisphere during World War II. He is best-known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid. A lot of people consider him to be one of the real-life inspirations for James Bond."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Stephenson

    He was creator of Camp X , located in Canada, which trained paramilitary and commandos meant for landing behind the Axis lines and in occupied countries.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_X
  11. Claude Godin says:
    9 Oct 2009 06:49:13 PM

    MESSAGE TO RENEE VERRET.

    Hello Renee, I am your cousin from Canada, Claude Godin, the son of the sister of your father, Madeleine. I tried to find something about him in Internet and I find your message! Is it possible for you to give me your email here? Regards. Claude
  12. Anonymous says:
    15 Oct 2009 10:21:13 PM

    As much as I agree with the entry above...

    Canada IS NOT A DOMINION.
  13. C. Peter Chen says:
    16 Oct 2009 07:28:42 AM

    Hello Anonymous who posted on 15 Oct 2009: This article primarily focuses on Canada during the World War II years, and during those years, Canada was officially a Dominion in the British Empire, despite legislative independence. In the 1950s, Canada began to phase out the usage of the word Dominion. It was not until 1982 that Canada officially became independent from the United Kingdom.
  14. daryll says:
    31 Oct 2009 08:10:28 PM

    My father served in the Air Force in the early 1940's in Penfield New Brunswick.Would appreciate any info or contacts he may have had.His name was Chester Ellis Stothart
  15. hey says:
    10 Dec 2009 05:50:06 PM

    This is an awesome website. Helped for my essay. Hope it helps lots of people. My Grandpa was in the airforec too.
  16. Anonymous says:
    1 Mar 2010 01:16:12 PM

    My Father was also stationed at Penfield during WWII. His name was Francis "Pat" McKean, although he has passed. The only person he ever mentioned was someone with the nickname "Roppy" (sp). The website for New Brunswick never even mentions Penfield as if it never existed.
  17. G Christian Larsen says:
    7 May 2010 06:03:07 PM

    It is actually "Pennfield" and/or "Pennfield Ridge". Would be interested in hearing more about Chester Ellis Stothart & Francis "Pat" McKean.

    Regards,
    G Christian Larsen
    President Pennfield Parish Military Historical Society
    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nbpennfi/penn8bAirStation.htm
  18. Anonymous says:
    12 Aug 2010 01:48:48 PM

    A big thank you for those who helped to free our country!
    Hello,

    my name is Rene Oosterwijk. My Granddad H.J. Oosterwijk was a dutch painter and he lived in Zwolle from 1886-1979. We've had an exhibition a couple of weeks ago and I heard that during WW2 a lot of paintings we're sold to canadian soldiers. Now I'm looking for people who're willing to either sell them or sent me photo's from the paintings. We're trying to publish a book and therefore I'mdesperately looking for as many paintings/ photo's as I can get.

    Can you help me ?

    Regards
    Rene Oosterwijk
    The Netherlands
  19. Anonymous says:
    20 Dec 2010 05:56:15 PM

    U suck!
  20. Doug says:
    21 Jan 2011 05:53:22 PM

    Further to Andy Banman's comment (poster 3), let us not forget Canada's significant contribution to the Korean War effort, as well as its ongoing efforts in present-day Afghanistan. Canada's contributions to these wars, as well as WW1 and WW2, remain out of proportion to its comparatively small population and small military.
  21. John says:
    27 Mar 2011 10:25:10 AM

    My father Henry Chartrand was in 1st Canadian Div Defence.& for some of the time Lorne Scot, joined as volunteer1941,travelled to England 1942-1943 left June 1943 for attack on Sicily/Italy.
    He came from Sudbury Ontario,did anyone Know him or have any information of him or his regiment.
  22. lou says:
    9 Sep 2011 08:37:26 PM

    My father in law Alfred Partridge served in the RCN. Served on a destroyer i think. His ship was hit and he lost a kidney. Anyone have connections with or knew him?
  23. jeff says:
    22 Oct 2011 06:18:59 PM

    i have been trying for some time to identify the armoured vehicles in a picture with my grandfather in diepenheim, Holland 1945, you picture finally solved it,THANKS
  24. Sue says:
    16 Nov 2011 12:26:37 AM

    I am trying to figure out my father's military career in the Canadian navy. His name was ROSS THOMPSON Walton and was from Windsor, Ontario, Canada
    Can amnyone suggest to me how to go about this searcg?
    Thank you.
  25. sue says:
    16 Nov 2011 12:29:42 AM

    Can anybody tell me if there was a Canadian attempt to capture a german ship during WWII? I think the ship was called "OMA".
    Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank.
  26. blinkin says:
    7 Dec 2011 03:38:01 PM

    I find it offensive that Canada is listed as a minor nation while France is listed as a major player.
  27. Anonymous says:
    19 Dec 2011 04:08:58 PM

    I agree 100% with blinkin.
    France did absolutely nothing in comparison to Canada!
  28. Anonymous says:
    30 Dec 2011 03:47:53 PM

    In regards to Question 22
    Was Alfred Partridge by any chance an artist?
  29. Anonymous says:
    31 Dec 2011 10:45:31 PM

    to comment 26, agreed, france was a battleground, their army lost, instead there was a resistance
  30. Bev says:
    11 Jun 2012 11:26:24 AM

    It is 73 years later, and our military is in the same condition once again. The next war is just around the corner, and once again, Canadians will jump into action, with out even a hesitation. We always have and we always will, it is what makes us who we are.
  31. P_LeC says:
    18 Sep 2012 05:38:31 AM

    Comments 26,27 and 29... France did everything they could at the onset of the war,and the free French did what they could thereafter. History shows it quite clearly how at the end of WW1 all countries were exhausted from the war (mentally, physically, economically and also in arms and ordinances).

    You have to take into consideration that most of the infantry was stuck at Dunkirk when Hitler invaded. Their tank brigades unsupported by air due to United States not delivering on aircrafts purchased.

    After occupation the Vichy government was nothing but puppets to the reich's will and this did not help anyone.

    Canada just seem to have done more because due to it's size of population and economy.... well it just seems that way. Canadians aren't daily flag wavers... just when it's the right occassion.

    unfortunately I think 73 years later...we've never been more ripe for invasion than ever. You watch we'll loose our northern borders as the weather warms.
  32. Michelle says:
    11 Nov 2012 07:58:01 AM

    Is there any where I can find information on my grandfather Alvin Edgar Switzerland known as BUD
    He fought in this war and was Canadian. He rarely spoke of it but I know he was on a ship or traveled on them. He has since passed away and I would really like if you can lead me to some way of finding out about him. Thank you
  33. Michelle says:
    11 Nov 2012 05:20:58 PM

    Michelle says:
    11 Nov 2012 07:58:01 AM
    above post should read ALVIN EDGAR SWITZER not Switzerland

    Is there any where I can find information on my grandfather Alvin Edgar Switzer known as BUD
    He fought in this war and was Canadian. He rarely spoke of it but I know he was on a ship or traveled on them. He has since passed away and I would really like if you can lead me to some way of finding out about him. Thank you
  34. mark thomson says:
    11 Nov 2012 07:24:07 PM

    my dad robert m thomson dob jan 1923 . was a coder on hmcs vallyfield k329 also on k242 when it sunk the sub , and hmcs niagara and i think the hmcs haida i have no info on him from 1941 1947 in 1947 he was in the R,C.A.F,,,his rank was ld aircraftman . #8619.the day k329 left port my dad was to go on leave, to get married to my mom hazel read . 15 min befor ship was to go his relief showed up . i know there where 2 coder on k329 rudd john sydney of calgary and archie w mills of essex ont like to find who relived my dad and if anyfamily members are stillwith us pls help if you can . son of vet who wonders ever day
  35. Anonymous says:
    27 Nov 2012 01:34:56 AM

    My grandfather served in WW2 with the air force. His name was Francis B. Hussey. He was the rear gunner in a Lancaster bomber and fought in Morocco and Sicily. That is all the information I have.

    If anyone has any information or a link to some information please let me know.
  36. Anonymous says:
    4 Jan 2013 02:16:43 AM

    Can anyone provide me with info on a Ralph William MacPherson who served in ww2 and was from eastern canada possibly newfoundland? Or pplease ehlp me out. Ive been researching this for quite sometime.. please contact me if you have any leads or info.. Thank you very kindly.
  37. jean marven says:
    5 Feb 2013 06:25:24 AM

    does anyone recall lieutenant john dent who was based at foremark hall derbyshire during ww2
  38. Anonymous says:
    3 Mar 2013 12:39:25 PM

    Does anyone recall Sgt. John Duchak airgunner, served in Englad, WWII RCAF
    Send smduchak@gmail.com
  39. Joe McSweeney says:
    7 Apr 2013 01:05:22 PM

    "Canada supplied 40% of the Allies' total aluminum production"

    WOW.
  40. Ed Affleck says:
    14 May 2013 02:13:21 PM

    Does anyone know where might be the stats regarding the total number of Canadian generals and admirals during WWII? I have a great deal regarding total men, officers, etc but nothing for that specific set of ranks. Thanks.
  41. Anonymous says:
    12 Sep 2013 09:41:10 AM

    Great overview of Canadian contribution. It's time, perhaps, for some more detail on two groups of ships: the corvettes, themselves (the often-unsung heroes of the North Atlantic runs) and Canada's 4 Tribal-Class destroyers, one of which--the Athabaskan--was sunk at night in the English Channel with a loss of 128 men, in what Maclean's Magazine called "the navy's most significant wartime loss." That loss may have occurred when the already-crippled ship was the victim of "friendly fire"--a torpedo from a British motor torpedo boat, when flares were mistaken for enemy fire. For more: Unlucky Lady, the Life and Death of HNCS Athabaskan.

    Just one of the many Tribals exists today, HMCS Haida--restored and preserved on the lakefront in Toronto. Only one of many Canadian Corvettes exists--restored HMCS Sackville, in Halifax.
    Rich Mole, Calgary
  42. Jan says:
    19 Sep 2013 09:26:30 PM

    Researching a 23 year old man H.J. Gimblett who enlisted in WW1 Dec. 11 1915. As far as I know he was a coloured man from Whitby Ontario. We have all his medals and tags that were purchase recently from a garage sale.
    We feel the need to know more of this person who
    was more then the few dollars spent on his valuable past medalions.
    Attestation papers only found, mother was Katherine Margaret Gimblett.

  43. Amy says:
    3 Oct 2013 09:48:52 PM

    Hi Mr. Chen, would you be able to provide the page numbers in Armchair Reader World War II specifically about the statistics regarding the number of Canadians in the military, navy and air force? Also the page numbers about the production of war materials? This would greatly aid in my research. Thank you very much.
  44. Alex says:
    11 Jan 2014 02:10:36 PM

    There's only one problem. Canada was independent of the United Kingdom and a was Realm since December 11th 1931, with His Majesty King George VI as King of Canada.
  45. Janet says:
    8 Mar 2014 06:54:15 AM

    I was born in 1943 , the daughter of a Canadian serving in the Canadian Royal Air Force in England . I only know that his name was Walter Mcready ( I have no idea if this is the right spelling) his mother was French she was a dancer. and there was also some connection to Toronto. He must have been a lovely man, I remember wonderful Christmas present arriving from Canada when I was a little girl. I am an historian and now writing a family history and it would be wonderful for my daughters and grandchildren to know something about their grandfather and greatgrandfather. Can anyone help? Thank you
  46. A JONES says:
    22 Sep 2014 12:34:13 PM

    My father's young brother, William I Jones went to Canada following his high school graduation around 1939. He volunteered for the CRAF and completed Pilot Officer training. He was then sent to Scotland. We have his medals for service in the war and specifically for air service in the Atlantic and Europe as well as the Battle of Britain. We also have the Silver Memorial Cross and tragic letters of his death sent to my Grandmother in 1942. He was 19 years old.
    One of the photos he sent home had some names of his fellows:P/O "Pip" Deeks,Sgt Rado or Rapo,Sgt Hemp (Yank),Sgt Alerthorne,P/O Taylor,Sgt Shafer"Buck" (Yank),Sgt Argue "Puny",Sgt Wilson "Young Al",and P/O Jones, "Billy the Kid."I am in the process of making a display of his memorabilia including pictures taken on his base in Scotland. If this is of special interest to anyone, I would be happy to share.
  47. A JONES says:
    23 Sep 2014 08:33:48 AM

    I should have mentioned that my Uncle Billy, AKA "Billy the Kid," was a "Yank," from Kansas City, MO.
  48. A JONES says:
    23 Sep 2014 10:23:49 PM

    Oops.. That would be the RCAF. Apologies.

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Franklin Roosevelt, the Earl of Athlone, Mckenzie King, and Winston Churchill on the terrace at the Citadelle, Quebec, Canada, Aug 1943
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