Canada & World War II. Canadian History 11. Declaration of War. September 1, 1939: Hitler invades Poland - Blitzkrieg : lighning war – depends on surprise – quick and violent attack - destroy reserves and communications of enemy – avoid a long war Hitler could now focus on the West.
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Canada & World War II
Canadian History 11
Training School, Brandon, Manitoba
Bedford Basin, Halifax, NS
Fall 1940: German U-boats are hunting for Allied merchant navy convoys. As soon as a U-boat locates a target, she sends its coordinates to her HQ and start stalking her prey. Other U-boats in the area, notified by radio, zero in on the target. A pack is formed. The German submarines' low profile makes them almost invisible on the surface of the sea. When signal is given, at night, the U-boats attack. A first blaze lights up the sky: a torpedoed ship is sinking. While the escort ships try to intercept the attacker and rescue survivors, other submarines get closer and start firing; some may even be daring enough to slip through the convoy's columns. Attacking while on the surface allows U-boats to make full use of their speed and manoeuvrability. As soon as they are located, they dive and disappear in the deep.
At sea, war starts as early as September 3rd, 1939, the very day that Great Britain and France declared war. On that day, the German submarine U-30 sank a British liner, Athenia, which was making for Montreal with 1103 passengers and 115 crew on board. There are 128 dead, including four Canadians.
Determined to preserve national sovereignty, the King government makes protecting Canadian shores its priority. But the RCN does not have enough ships to patrol Canadian coastal waters, let alone respond to the Royal Navy's request for assistance.
Destroyers are bought from Great Britain, as well as merchant ships, to be converted into warships. War demands that Canada's shipbuilding industry be revived: in 1940 the government gives its approval for the construction of 90 small warships. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) also plays a role in protecting coastal areas and air patrols become more frequent. In 1939, forces at the Dartmouth Air Base are increased and airfields are constructed in Sydney and Yarmouth.
The first convoy, HX-1, sails from Halifax on September 16th, 1939, and reaches Great Britain safely. Merchant ships are still relatively safe when they leave North American harbours as Germany has only 24 short-range U-boats, based in the North Sea. Their hunting grounds are mostly the waters surrounding the British Isles. Canadian escort ships accompany tankers and freighters up to a point off the coast of Newfoundland, where the Royal Navy takes over.
Bedford Basin, Halifax
Around 40 boats compose a convoye - 9 columns with 5 boats each. The Merchant marines are placed in the middle as they have the most dangerous cargo.
Liberation of Holland (1944-45)
The Dieppe Raid (1942)
D-Day – Juno Beach, June 6, 1944
The Italian Campaign (1943-44)
Because surprise was thought to be a key to success, heavy bombardment prior to a major assault was counterproductive
The British Command decided to land tanks directly from the sea, something else that had never been tried before.
Next we move on to capture Rome – this would bring the Allies to frontiers of southern Germany and Austria
Allied offensive in Italy bogged down but gained momentum when Canadian troops broke through the “Hitler line” in May 1944
Rome fell to the Allies on June 4, two days before D-Day
Important because 1/4 million Germans were in Italy at a time when Allies were advancing in West Europe.
The Canadians faced underwater obstacles, land mines, barbed wire and heavy machine-gun fire from the Germans.
This time, the invaders kept coming
Within a week, the Allies had 300 000 troops safely on shore
Within a month, 1 million Allies had landed with 200 000 military vehicles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1uKHU0Vq44 – Juno Beach
Canadians & German POWs at Juno
Other Allied forces invaded Europe from the south through Italy and France.
Troops marched north to join those who landed at Normandy.
As Hitler unleashed the flying bomb and the rocket at Britain, the Allied forces swept north through Belgium.
As the Nazis retreated from Holland, they flooded the lowlands.
“The United States was not justified in dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.”
“The decision to attack the Soviet Union was Hitler’s biggest mistake.”