Canada and the Second World War
Essays in Honour of Terry Copp
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Canada’s contribution to the liberation of Europe and the postwar efforts to advance the cause of peace are important parts of the Canadian story. My family and I have a great interest in helping Canadians understand and appreciate the roles played and sacrifices made by the Canadian Forces during some of history’s most tragic and troubled times. Terry Copp’s excellent series of battlefield guides all start with the same epitaph: “Dedicated to the men and ...
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Many people have contributed to this project. The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies was co-founded in 1991 by Terry Copp and Marc Kilgour. Marc and the Centre’s current co-director Alistair Edgar shared their insights and talents with us in support of the project. The Centre’s Board of Directors continue to invest countless hours...
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This collection offers new and diverse interpretations of Canada’s Second World War experience. It draws from a diverse group of scholars: military, social, and cultural historians, as well as working journalists, graduate students, and serving military officers. Their articles are organized under five headings: The Home Front; The War of the Scientists; The Mediterranean Theatre; Northwest Europe; and the Aftermath. Most address Canadian topics. Some ...
2 Terry Copp’s Approach to History
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Terry Copp has been teaching and writing history now for more than fifty years. During that time he has produced over a dozen books and numerous articles, but to his former students he is known best as a teacher. He is the type of academic who is as impactful in the classroom as he is prolific on the printed page. This makes it difficult to encapsulate the career of an historian that has ranged so widely across Canadian political, social, ...
3 “To Hold on High the Torch of Liberty”: Canadian Youth and the Second World War
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For many young Canadians, the national call to arms that sounded in September 1939, scarcely more than a generation after the “war to end all wars,” signalled a personal obligation to be “taken seriously by the whole population, not just those who rushed to join the colours.” As one woman recalled, although “terrified” at the prospect of war, “All of us, of all ages, accepted that we must do something, no matter how little.”1 Another member ...
4 Fighting a White Man’s War?: First Nations Participation in the Canadian War Effort, 1939–1945
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Canada’s First Nations added their weight to the national war effort against the Axis powers in a remarkable range of ways.1 On the homefront, they lent their vocal support, time, labour, and limited financial resources; at the same time, young Native men and women volunteered in the thousands for service with the armed forces. Many others found themselves conscripted, called to report for medical exams and compulsory training under the ...
5 Harnessing Journalists to the War Machine: Canada’s Domestic Press Censors in the Second World War
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It was a quiet afternoon at the Social Credit Party’s national convention at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel on 16 April 1944 when Dr. Joshua Haldimand, a Regina chiropractor, took the podium. The war seemed quite far away as Dr. Haldimand looked over the crowd in the hotel ballroom. A few reporters from Toronto’s daily newspapers, along with some western Canadian journalists, were sprinkled among about seven hundred delegates. Dr. Haldimand had ...
6 Dangerous Curves: Canadian Drivers and Mechanical Transport in Two World Wars
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Inside the Canadian War Museum there is a cavernous open-concept exhibition space called the LeBreton Gallery. Flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows that look across the LeBreton Flats to Parliament Hill, the gallery has been described as “a lens into the museum.”1 LeBreton is also home to the national collection of military transportation and artillery artifacts. In addition to an impressive line of tanks, the heaviest of which weighs well over 50 tons, ...
7 How C.P. Stacey Became the Army’s Official Historian: The Writing of The Military Problems of Canada, 1937–1940
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The Canadian Institute of International Affairs commissioned Charles Stacey’s second book in 1938 to stimulate informed discussion about current Canadian defence policy at a time of international crisis.1 Stacey mentions the book only briefly in his memoirs,2 but his papers show that he was passionately committed to the project. He was engaged in nothing less than a campaign to preserve Canada’s ties to Great Britain, including ...
8 “Strike Hard, Strike Sure”: Bomber Harris, Precision Bombing, and Decision Making in RAF Bomber Command
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At the outbreak of the Second World War, staff of RAF Bomber Command believed it had the doctrine, technology and procedures that would allow it to conduct daylight precision strategic bombing against Germany. Heavy losses, however, forced a switch to night bombing by early 1940, from which point evidence began to show that crews were failing to find and hit their targets. A statistical analysis, conducted at the behest of Churchill’s scientific ...
9 Leadership and Science at War: Colonel Omond Solandt and the British Army Operational Research Group, 1943–1945
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In 2000, Terry Copp made a significant contribution to our understanding of science and its role in the Second World War by compiling and contextualizing the efforts of No. 2 Operational Research Section (No. 2 ORS) as it analyzed battle data as part of 21 Army Group in his fine work Montgomery’s Scientists.1 No. 2 ORS was part of a larger British effort to enlist science in war, beginning with radar work for the RAF Fighter Command ...
10 Wartime Military Innovation and the Creation of Canada’s Defence Research Board
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No one can foresee how history will judge this century but it is not too difficult to put down on paper some of the things for which we shall be remembered. Among the more important of these the men and women of the future will, I am sure, record that our generation were the first to apply science to warfare on During the Second World War, Canada’s defence scientists and engineers played a central role in some of the most secret and advanced research ...
11 Overlord’s Long Right Flank: The Battles for Cassino and Anzio, January–June 1944
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Matthew Parker’s 2004 popular history of the battles for Cassino reveals how deeply entrenched is the view that the Italian campaign made no strategic sense. Parker echoes a generation of writers who see no “unity of purpose driving the forces in Italy. With so many different national and ethnic groups from such radically different societies, it would have been an impossibility.” He complains that the coalition of so-called “United Nations” ...
12 A Sharp Tool Blunted: The First Special Service Force in the Breakout from Anzio
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On the morning of 30 January 1944, a US Fifth Army messenger tore into the First Special Service Force (FSSF) headquarters at Santa Maria, Italy. He reported that the situation at Anzio was taking a turn for the worse and that US VI Corps desperately needed reinforcements. The Force had been ordered in. As the unit began preparing for a move to the beachhead, the 1st and 3rd Battalions of Colonel William O. Darby’s Ranger Force were ...
13 La culture tactique canadienne: le cas de l’opération Chesterfield, 23 mai 1944
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Les armées sont souvent accusées d’être incapables d’apprendre. Si par bonheur certains de leurs membres montrent une capacité d’apprentissage au-dessus du commun, d’aucuns prétendent que l’institution les malmènerait parce qu’elle préfèrerait les solutions éprouvées. Il y a du vrai et du faux là-Il y a surtout que cette explication n’en est pas une, car elle suppose que quelques hommes feraient la différence, alors que l’on devrait bien savoir ...
14 Knowing Enough Not to Interfere: Lieutenant-General Charles Foulkes at the Lamone River, December 1944
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It is hard to find anything nice to say about Charles Foulkes as a battlefield commander. He possessed no great technical skill. None of his confidential reports during the interwar period identified him as anything better than an “above average” talent in the Permanent Force,1 and his directing staff at Camberley pegged him as only “[a]verage … a critic rather than a creator.”2 His control of the 2nd Canadian Division in July 1944 was so shaky that ...
15 No Ambush, No Defeat: The Advance of the Vanguard of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 7 June 1944
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It is virtually an article of faith in the Normandy campaign literature that the vanguard of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade (hereafter 9 Brigade) was ambushed and defeated by 12 SS Hitler Youth Panzer Division on D+1. These young Nazi fanatics, led by battle-hardened Eastern Front veterans, took the naïve Canadians by surprise, denied them their ultimate objective and sent them packing.1 For many historians, the defeat of 9 Brigade is also ...
16 Defending the Normandy Bridgehead: The Battles for Putot-en-Bessin, 7–9 June 1944
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By noon on 7 June 1944, the day after the D-Day landings, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles held the small Norman village of Putot-en-Bessin, just 8 kilometres from the beaches they had stormed the day before. Their orders were to hold their position and stop any German assault that could threaten the precarious hold the Allies maintained in France. A major German attack was launched on the morning of 8 June. During the course of the day, many ...
17 Operation Smash and 4 Canadian Armoured Division’s Drive to Trun
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In Fields of Fire (2003), Terry Copp concluded that historians had underrated the First Canadian Army’s contribution to the Allied campaign in Normandy. He noted that Canadians “played a role all out of proportion to its relative strength among the Allied armies.”1 On Canadian generalship in the final stages of the Normandy campaign, Professor Copp maintained that it was not possible “to argue that any of the three Canadian divisional ...
18 A History of Lieutenant Jones
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The first volume of the Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War contains The History of Private Jones.1 He was an anonymous soldier whose service offered a glimpse into how the Army selected, trained, treated, and finally discharged Canadians who volunteered for wartime military service. But what do we know about Lieutenant Jones? The Army’s official historian, Colonel C.P. Stacey, understood the challenge of finding ...
19 A Biography of Major Ronald Edmond Balfour
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In 1985 the town of Cleve, Germany, recognized a former enemy soldier with a local award. Major Ronald Balfour was awarded the Johanna Sebus medal in recognition of his efforts to protect artifacts during the Second World War. Forty years earlier, in February and March 1945, the battles of the Rhineland had ravaged Cleve and other towns of the Lower Rhine, such as Goch, Emmerich, Xanten, and Kalkar. Forty-one-year-old Ronald Edmond ...
20 The Personality of Memory: The Process of Informal Commemoration in Normandy
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...null e can’t ignore events that cost the lives of young Canadians who were not required to come and who were volunteers that did not return to Canada. I believe it’s our responsibility, no, it’s even more than a responsibility, it’s a duty. We had the chance to be free, to live free, and this is the least we can do to remember them.”1 This reflection by the mayor by Le Mesnil-Patry, Roger Alexandre, is at the heart of the informal commemoration that adorns ...
21 An Open Door to a Better Future: The Memory of Canada’s Second World War
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In the town of Aylmer, in Southern Ontario, a bronze statue of a weeping woman adorns the war memorial; one hand is at her downcast face, while the other holds a wreath. On either side of her, etched into the stone, are the names of fifty-five men from Aylmer and Malahide Township who were killed during the First World War—including Clark and Leslie Haight of Aylmer South, brothers who died seven months apart but are commemorated ...
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Terry Copp: A Select Bibliography
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Publication Year: 2012