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WWII – The Battles Begin

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WWII – The Battles Begin. Between 1939 and 1941, Germany is able to take over many European countries using a military tactic called Blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg: “Lightning War” Tanks, bomber planes, troops & artillery. Tanks would “punch holes” in the lines of the defences

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Between 1939 and 1941, Germany is able to take over many European countries using a military tactic called Blitzkrieg.

  • Blitzkrieg: “Lightning War”
      • Tanks, bomber planes, troops & artillery.
      • Tanks would “punch holes” in the lines of the defences
      • Bomber planes would fight from above
      • Troops and artilleries would follow quickly behind the tanks
      • Aerial bombardment and ground troops prevented Allies from re-supplying their own forces and would close in to seal the holes in the front line.
  • Animation
miracle at dunkirk
Miracle at Dunkirk
  • After taking over many countries in Europe, Germany invades France
  • Britain sent in troops to help defend France
  • Both France and Britain were not prepared for the speed of the Blitzkrieg
  • The German army forced the allies back to the French city of Dunkirk where they remained trapped.
  • During the delay of Germany planning their final attack, the British set out a call for help
  • Nearly 900 ships came across the English Channel
  • Between May 27 and June 4 over 300,000 soldiers were evacuated to England from Dunkirk. It was expected that only 10,000 would have survived.
the battle of britain
The Battle of Britain
  • July 1940 – October 1940
  • Luftwaffe: German Air Force
  • RAF – British Royal Air Force
  • Hitler ordered an air attack on British ships in the English Channel signaling the start of the Battle of Britain.
  • Hitler’s plan was to destroy Britain’s fighter planes, factories and the morale of the people

At first Luftwaffe was extremely successful by knocking out airfields and supply factories

  • (RAF) despite being badly outnumbered held it’s ground.
  • After thousands of British civilians and fighter pilots were killed the Luftwaffe backs down and the battle is considered an Allied victory.
  • Canadian fighter planes helped the RAF
  • Note: Review your notes from the Battle of Britain video!

Japan – Part of the Axis Powers

  • Leader: Emperor Hirohito
  • Japan wants to take over Asia for power and natural resources
  • December 7, 1941 Japan launches surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (American naval base in Hawaii).
  • Japanese had to eliminate the American Pacific fleet to continue its own expansion without any extra obstacles

U.S used the attack to declare war against the Axis Powers

  • A few hours after the attack of Pearl Harbor, Japanese invade Hong Kong (a colony of Britain).
  • Britain and Canada had troops set up in Hong Kong for defence.
  • Compared to Japan’s huge artillery and airplanes, the British and Canadian defenders was made up of a small number of troops, nurses and civilians had little chance of victory.
  • Just over 2 weeks of ferocious fighting, the defenders surrendered on Christmas day.
  • 290 Canadians killed. Survivors were sent to prison camps and used for slave labour in coal and iron mines.
  • Ate only rice, were beaten, tortured and killed.
the battle of dieppe

The Battle of Dieppe

August 19, 1942


Canadian and British troops were sent to the French coast at Dieppe to test the German forces.

  • They wanted to establish whether an attack from the sea was possible.
  • Objective of attack: hold the town long enough to destroy its harbour installations, gather crucial information and then withdraw safely to Britain. This raid was to test new techniques and equipment in preparation for the eventual invasion of Europe
    • Maneuver was called “Operation Jubilee”
  • Over 6000 soldiers were set out towards Dieppe (5000 Canadian)

The Plan:

    • Surprise the Germans in the middle of the dark night

A Series of Unfortunate Events:

    • A chance encounter with a small German convoy warned the Germans of a pending raid (the surprise element was gone)
    • The Canadians and British were able to fight off the convoy, but this delayed their timing and they arrived at the beach at dawn
  • At Dieppe the Germans were ready with artillery on the cliffs. They mowed down soldiers as they left the landing crafts
  • Tanks that were supposed to lead the way for the Canadians stalled on the beach

Dieppe's pebble beach and cliff immediately following the raid on August 19th, 1942. A scout car has been abandoned.


Corpses on the beach next to two Churchill tanks of the 14th Armoured Regiment (Calgary) stuck in pebbles.


By afternoon, 900 Canadian troops were dead, over 1000 wounded and 1900 were taken by the Germans

  • Acceptable losses: a certain number of lives may reasonably be lost in pursuit of long-term objectives. Therefore, Dieppe was not a complete failure
  • Lessons learned at Dieppe proved to be very valuable at the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Mistakes such as the ones in Dieppe didn’t happen again.

Canada’s air force was small at the beginning of the war, but by the end it was the fourth largest in the world

  • Pilots were young – average age 23
  • Sent on missions to bomb industrial sites, railways, highways and bridges of Axis Powers - mostly at night.
  • However, many bombs went astray killing civilians – mostly women and children
        • Question: Why were most civilians women and children?

In 1942 the Allies begin to bomb German cities to destroy German spirits.

  • Over 100 000 German civilians died and cities were almost totally destroyed.
  • However, the bombing did not destroy the German will to fight
    • (much like the British will did not break during the Battle of Britain)