As a young nation, Canada was not regarded as a superpower in military standards. Canadians were originally seen as minuscule compared to forces like Germany and Great Britain. This changed once the world was exposed to the capabilities that Canada had during WWII. Canadians assisted during the Battle of the Atlantic by ensuring that supplies and food were safely reaching Great Britain. They continued their naval warfare when storming the beaches of Normandy during D-day to put a dent in German defenses. Maintaining their peacekeeping mentality, Canadians were successful in liberating Holland from the Nazi reign, freeing many innocent and starving people. With these impressive feats, Canada was able to be a viable asset towards winning the war. Canada played a prominent role during WWII which was integral in the victory for the Allied forces, as displayed in their efforts during the Battle of the Atlantic, D-day, and the liberation of Netherlands. As we know, Canada was on a separate continent, therefore reaching the Allied forces was a struggle in itself.
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An important step towards winning the war was Canada’s safe transportation of all sorts of supplies to the Allies in Europe, all the while combating the infamous German U-boats. Canadians were valuable assets towards the victory of the Battle of the Atlantic, ensuring an advantage for the rest of the war. This was done through the constant support from the Canadian Navy and Air Force. As airplanes flew over providing cover fire, ships would escort convoys to their location while watching out for German submarines. Once the Canadians designed and produced the Corvette, the tides of the battle had shifted towards the Allies. This small yet efficient warship was capable of opposing the Nazi submarines. It was quite successful, as it was a part of the first U-boat sinking in 1941 (The Canadian Encyclopedia). Not only were Canadians building Corvettes on the home front, but they also were producing other battleships and aircraft to help take part in the Battle of the Atlantic. Considering the Canadian Navy themselves lost a total of 22 ships from the battle alone, Canada was constantly building new ships to bring into the fray. As escorting and protect those ships had been Canada’s main duty, they had been able to transport over 2,500 merchant ships to resupply Great Britain (Veteran Affairs Canada). With their valiant efforts at sea, Canada and the Allies were able to make a large enough dent into the German Navy that forced the opposition to pull back most of their U-boats in May of 1943 (War Museum). This allowed the Allies to regain control of the Atlantic Ocean, relieving the stress on both themselves and other countries. If Canadians had not been responsible for the convoys, Great Britain would have been starved, ultimately losing the war for them.
After the failure of the Dieppe Raid, the Allies were determined to make an elaborately planned and precise attack on the Germans to begin their slow push of reclaiming the land. This new plan was named D-day, where British, American, and Canadian troops stormed their respective beaches and hoped to gain enough ground to force the Germans to retreat further away. For months, Allied aircrafts had been bombing the German defenses to weaken them, and once they saw their opening, they sent in their troops. On June 6, 1944, they first sent 450 parachuting Canadians into the middle of the battlefield to begin engaging the enemy (Veteran Affairs Canada). Once the Nazis were distracted, the troops reached the beach a few hours later and began their onslaught. Canadians were entrusted in storming Juno Beach with their 14,000 soldiers known as “storm troopers” (Veteran Affairs Canada). Unfortunately, Canada was tasked with fighting against the strong Panzer tank divisions. Despite being up against the Nazi army’s most powerful troops, Canada was successful in pushing the Germans further inland, which was seen as a miracle. Canada’s impact allowed France to be liberated from the Nazi regime, giving the Allies the upper hand once more. Having Canada participate during D-day granted the Allies the footing they needed to end the reign of the Germans.
After the Nazi invasions, many different parts of Europe had been under the control of Germany. One of those countries, the Netherlands, had terrible conditions that their citizens had to go through. Their food had been cut off by the German army, forcing them to live off eating tulip bulbs. Thankfully, Canada was able to liberate the Netherlands and bring the Dutch people back to the life they were happy to live. Canadian soldiers continued to hold the frontline against the Nazis, and slowly they were able to push towards the Netherlands. Similar to the Battle of Passchendaele, Canadian troops had to combat thick mud and flooding, but it did not stop them from reaching Holland. Teaming up with the Dutch resistance, Canadians began scouring their country to completely drive out all the Germans. As veteran James R. Joyce stated, “we had to go in and clean out villages and towns” (Joyce). Once peace had completely returned to the Netherlands, Canada continued their peacekeeping job by providing supplies for the citizens. The people of Holland have been eternally grateful for the effort that Canada had to reclaim their country, reflected by their annual gift of a thousand tulip bulbs to represent their gratitude. Canada has been recognized as crucial members of World War II in the eyes of the Dutch people, as they are thankful that it had been the Canadians that put their heart and soul to help free the Netherlands from the German’s clutches.
Originally seen as weaker, Canadians had made a name for themselves based on their courageous efforts and hard work. If Canada had not participated in the second Great War, the United Kingdom would have been starved of supplies, the Allies would not have as strong of an advance on Normandy Beach, and the Netherlands would not have been liberated as early as they were. Through the constant strive to turn the tides of the war, Canada was able to make a large enough impact to allow a victory for the Allies. Without the Canadian effort, the war would not have been in favor of the Allies, risking the chance of the continuation of the Nazi expansion. The Canadian presence granted the Allies the upper hand that they required to defeat Germany, which could not have been replaced by any other country in the world.
- CBC News. “Remembering Canada’s Role in WW II.” CBC News, CBC/Radio Canada, 12 July 2014, www.cbc.ca/news/canada/remembering-canada-s-role-in-ww-ii-1.871801.
- Canadian War Museum. “Canada and the Second World War.” Canadian War Museum, Canadian War Museum, www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/exhibitions/chrono/1931crisis_e.shtml.
- “Corvette.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, The Canadian Encyclopedia, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/corvette/.
- Joyce, Mike. “James R. Joyce.” The Second World War Interview, Veterans Affairs Canada, 23 Oct. 2014, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/those-who-served/diaries-letters-stories/second-world-war/joyceinterview.
- Veterans Affairs Canada. “Second World War (1939 – 1945).” Veterans Affairs Canada, Government of Canada, 29 Nov. 2017, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war
- Veterans Affairs Canada. “Second World War.” Veterans Affairs Canada, 1 May 2017, www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/canadian-armed-forces/royal-canadian-navy/sww.
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