World War II Battles. Summary of WWII Lead-Up. The event which really kick starts the war is the invasion of Poland in 1939. Britain and the rest of the world had been working on a policy of appeasement towards Germany and its allies. Canada had been an isolationist country.
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Summary of WWII Lead-Up The event which really kick starts the war is the invasion of Poland in 1939. Britain and the rest of the world had been working on a policy of appeasement towards Germany and its allies. Canada had been an isolationist country. Hitler had complete control of Germany since 1933. Hitler blamed German failure in WWI on the Jews (‘The Big Lie’) and his country’s depression on the Treaty of Versailles.
Important Political Leaders Canada: Alexander Mackenzie-King Germany: Adolf Hitler Britain: Winston Churchill Italy: Benito Mussolini USSR: Joseph Stalin America: Franklin Roosevelt
The Phony War • After German armies invade Poland, England and France declare war on Germany. • The Nazi armies crushed Poland in less than a month by using dive bombers and tanks in a Blitzkrieg (lightning war). • Although England and France declared war on Germany neither country immediately went to the aid of Poland. This period of the war became known as the “Phony War.”
German Blitzkrieg • After Poland and the Phony War Blitzkrieg turned into high gear. • The Germans captured Denmark and Norway (April 1940), Belgium and the Netherlands (May) and France (June).
The Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan The Ally powers: Britain France Canada USSR America Other Commonwealth Countries Axis & Allies
Battle of Dunkirk • France, May 25-31, 1940. • Germans pushed Allied troops back towards the English channel making room to take the centre (Paris) • The Germans had excellent positioning and control of the situation • The Germans had pinned the Ally (largely British) troops down against the northern border. Britain was in danger of having to surrender hundreds of thousands of troops • Miraculously the British government was able to evacuate over 300,000 people to Britain in only a week • Unfortunately for the Allies, France was easily taken as a result of the pull out
A War of the World • When France fell to the Nazi’s in 1940 Britain stood alone against Germany and was in serious danger of defeat. • Canada’s role would have to be increased if Britain was going to hold off the Nazi’s from complete European control. Canada became Britain's most powerful ally until 1941 • In 1941 Japan declared war on the USA by attacking Pearl Harbour bringing the US into the war against the Axis powers • Japan also attacked Canadian forces in Hong Kong in 1941 and took the surviving soldiers as prisoners of war
1940 – 1941:“The Battle of Britain” • By 1940 almost all of Europe was in the hands of Germany and Italy • In an attempt to force the British to surrender, Hitler begins the “Battle of Britain.” Hitler’s air force attacks the island of England, bombing both civilian and military targets • The Royal Air Force, along with many Canadian pilots, fought back until the German air raids ceased • The “Battle of Britain” lasted 8 months and cost the lives of 40 553 men, women and children • It failed in its purpose to demoralize the British people and had the opposite effect instead the allies became even more devoted to the concept of “Total War”
Battle of Britain Continued • The Germans had seen the Hurricane, the RAF’s most well used plane, but they were not prepared to deal with the nimble Spitfire. • One of the reasons the RAF was able to overcome the German Luftwaffe was because they got rid of their out of date strategies. • The failure of Germany to dominate this battle is known as one of the biggest mistakes in the war which enabled support to arrive and the British to gain morale.
Canadian RCAF Pilots • Canadian fighter pilots continued their record of some of the finest captains in the sky • We had 4 Ace’s (20 kills or more) during the second World War • Canada’s largest Bomber group (No.6), which operated out of southern Britain, won 8,000 medals for bravery • During the Battle of Britain our pilots often were outnumbered 4 and 5 to 1 but often still had a kill ratio of 3 to 1 in favour. • Canada’s greatest pilot was George "Buzz" Beurling who had 32 enemy kills.
Japan Takes Hong Kong • December 1941, 2000 Canadian Soldiers are sent to hold Hong Kong against a force of 20,000 Japanese soldiers • The Canadians put forth a valiant effort, however they were unable to hold Hong Kong in the face of overwhelming odds • The Japanese forces committed many atrocities against the Canadian soldiers that were captured as well as those soldiers and civilians taken as prisoners of War • Hong Kong is taken within the month on Christmas Day
The Rape of Nanking • The Japanese army was known for its ruthless tactics. In an event prior to the break out of WWII, the Japanese had gone into Nanjing China and plundered the city. • For six weeks the men and children were beaten and killed while the women were raped and then often executed. • It is said the screams could be heard for miles. The whole city was eventually torched to the ground. • Japanese military leaders have refused to admit the atrocity despite being well documented.
Battle of the Atlantic • During WWII, supplies for England and the Allied forces in Europe were carried by ship across the North Atlantic Ocean • Thousands of Canadian merchant sailors served on ships carrying food, fuel, weapons, ammunition, and other supplies to English ports. • From 1940 on these sailors faced the constant threat of attack from German submarines (known as U-Boats) that traveled in groups (known as wolf-packs) through out the North Atlantic Ocean (particularly that area that air-planes could not defend (Known as the Black Pit.)
Merchant Sailors • After the war Canadian merchant sailors were treated as civilian participants and were not given the same benefits as veterans of the army, navy or air force. • Examples, they were not eligible for: • Pension able benefits • Free university education • Housing or land-grant benefits • No small business financial aid • Veteran’s health care benefits
Lend-Lease Act • The USA passed the Lend-Lease Act, allowing President Roosevelt the power to spend $7 billion to lend or lease military aid to Britain and its allies • By 1942 Canadian and American shipyards were able to build merchant ships at faster rate that U-boats were sinking Allied Vessels.
Dieppe: The Plan • By 1942, the Allies were making plans to retake Europe • To accomplish this, the Allies launched a series of raids across the English Channel • One of these raids was against the French town of Dieppe which was in enemy hands • Canadian troops were given the job of capturing the town at night under the cover of Air bombings and tank landings.
Dieppe: The Problems • Delays caused the ships to land on the beach during daylight • Delays caused the Bombers to be late attacking • Soldiers were picked off as they went for cover • Commanders in the boats could not see what was happening and continued to send reinforcements onto the beach • Of 4,963 Canadians who landed, 2, 853 were killed or captured • More Canadian soldiers died in those few hours at Dieppe than in any other day of the war
Stalingrad & The Eastern Front • Operation Barbarossa - blitzkrieg on Russia. • Three pronged attack on Soviet Union: • Leningrad (under siege for two years) • Moscow • Stalingrad (August, 1942 - February, 1943) • The winter of 1941-42 was so severe that German soldiers literally froze. • Stalingrad was the turning point of the war in east. Russians defeated Germans, capturing 300,000 POWs. • The total cost (in soldiers) during the key battles of the Eastern Front often approached a million on each side.
The Italian Campaign • Churchill believed that recapturing Europe would be easiest through the “soft underbelly” (Italy). • Canadian troops were crucial to the success of this campaign. • Fighting was often House to House and it could take weeks to take a city. • Perhaps the most important Canadian-Axis conflict was Ortona where Canadians lost 1372 soldiers.
The Italian Campaign: Highlights • The Italian Campaign was largely fought between Germany and the allies. • Italy surrendered on Sept 3 1943 • Key events were Sicily, Ortona, Liri Valley & The Hitler Line • Over 75,000 Canadians were active in Italy during the campaign.
D-Day • On June 6 1944 D-Day began. • D-Day was the long awaited Allied invasion on Europe across the English Channel • It was code named Operation Overlord, and involved almost one million soldiers. • British, American, and Canadian troops stormed ashore along the entire coast of the French province of Normandy. • Juno Beach was the Canadian Objective
Juno Beach & Beyond • Canadian troops struck at first light, pouring out of their landing craft and advancing across the sand up into the town of Caen • The Allies had taken back part of the French soil • D-day marked the beginning of the end for Germany • Canadians continued to fight for months in order to also take back all the French ports along the English Channel • The Battle of the Sheldt was a key event in this period. • Allied soldiers fought right into Germany through the Rhineland
Liberating the Netherlands • One of the most important moments in the history of World War II for Canadian Soldiers. • Canadian troops had been fighting in France, Italy, Belgium, and in Germany since the D-Day landing. • These troops were moved to the Netherlands to push the German troops occupying the northeast back to the sea and to drive German troops in the west back into Germany. • As a result of their efforts, the German invasion of the Netherlands was reversed and the Dutch people were freed. • Canadian troops and pilots gave food to the people of Holland. • The people of Holland send thanks to this day for the help they received in World War II
US At War • Japanese attacked naval base at Pearl Harbor, HI, Dec. 7, 1941. • U.S. declares war on Japan, Germany & Italy declare war on U.S. • U.S. and other allies decided to defeat Germany first, then defeat Japan
The War With Japan • Largely fought between the US and Japan • The key tactic for the Americans was to “Island hop” between South East Asian countries • They also fortified around larger Japanese held territory • In June 1942 the Japanese tried to take Midway Island and failed. The casualties were significant. • This would be a key turning point with the Japanese as the US now had more naval vessels • The Americans also cracked the Japanese code allowing them to know Japanese naval positioning and predict attacks
Dropping The Atomic Bomb • The atomic effort, codenamed “The Manhattan Project,” was done jointly by Americans, Brits, Canadians and ironically, a German. • US Air force dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima August 6th 1945. Three days later they dropped Fat Man on Nagasaki. • 140,000 and 70,000 people died respectively. • Japan surrendered 6 days after the second bomb was dropped ending the war. • Germany surrendered May 7th 1945(3 months earlier)