Canadians Make their Mark in the Second World War
16 May 2018
The brilliant John C. Maxwell once said “The truth is that teamwork is at the heart of
great achievement.”1 This is exhibited considerably in today’s society as well as in the past. An
evident application is in all types of wars. Nations make alliances and help one another in order
to be successful. An example of this phenomenon that should not be forgotten is Canada’s
contribution in the Second World War. Many argue that without the great courage of over one
million Canadians, victory on the side of the Allies may not have been possible. It is evident that
their contribution to the Allied war effort was significant by the fact that they aided in the war on
land, at sea and in the air, and on the home front.
To begin, Canadians contributed to the Allied war effort greatly in the war on land. An
example of their support is the Normandy Campaign in the spring of 1944. When the Allies
decided to mount a major campaign, it required a great deal of effort, planning and supplies. It
demanded perfect discipline, timing and coordination. Despite the many obstacles the troops
faced such as choking dust and intense heat, the “Falaise Gap” closed. Furthermore, another
event in which the contribution of Canadians is significant is the Italian Campaign from 1943-45.
After Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader, reached out to the Allies for help, 93,000 Canadians
joined.2 They faced weather difficulties, resulting in 23,000 casualties.3 They faced vicious street
fighting and “mouse holding” in the Battle of Ortona and the breakage of the “Gothic Line”, but
the Germans finally surrendered in the spring. These Canadians accomplished so much and their
bravery should not be overlooked. As well, Thomas Prince was one of Canada’s most decorated
veterans in the Second World War. He was a courageous war hero and an Aboriginal advocate.
Despite the rejection from the military, racism and financial issues, Tommy managed to be a
sergeant for the Canadian Parachute Battalion and part of the “Devil’s Brigade”, the first Special
Service Force. While defending the front line in Anzio, Italy, he ran a communication line and
set up an observation post for three days, while disguised as a farmer. His reports on German
movements resulted in the destruction of four enemy camps . In France a few years later, he
stayed without food or water for 72 hours, resulting in the captivity of 1000 German soldiers.4
Tommy had a sense of civic duty and fierce pride to his people, and played a major role in the
war effort. Conspicuously, these soldiers accomplished remarkably much on land, and in many
other ways too.
Additionally, contribution was greatly made to the Allied war effort in the air and at sea.
For example, the Battle of Britain was a prominent battle for Canadians. Due to the fact that the
British troops left most of their equipment back in Dunkirk, the first Canadian Division assumed
a very important role because they possessed bulk of equipment. Many Canadians were part of
several squadrons by the end of the battle. No. 1 Fighter Squadron, consisting mostly of
Canadians, shot down a total of 31 enemy aircrafts and damaged 43 or more.5 Canada sacrificed
equipment, soldiers, lives and more for this Battle, and perhaps it may not have been won
without these efforts. In addition, Canadians contributed greatly during the war at sea, especially
at the Battle of the Atlantic. This battle lasted six long years and was a struggle for control of the
Atlantic Ocean, because it was a key supply line for troops and equipment. The pressure was
unbearable. The Germans cost Canadians 454,000 tonnes of shipping in only one month.6 Both
sides were struggling to get the upper hand in technology and tactics. Eventually, the odds were
in the favour of the Allies and Hitler decided to postpone the war. The extent to which the
Canadian Navy had grown was remarkable. They began with only 6 ocean-going ships and 3500
personnel, and by the end had one of the world’s largest navies, with 434 commissioned vessels
and over 95,000 men in uniform.7 Plainly, success in this battle would not have been possible
without the courage and support of Canadians. Moreover, Canada had many veterans and
soldiers that manifested great courage and civic pride. For example, George “Buzz” Beurling
was recognized as the most successful Canadian fighter pilot of World War II. Beurling was
known for his sharp eyesight, which was better than normal, his quick fingers and impeccable
skills shown in the field. Though he was considered unpopular and rebellious, he was
commissioned as an ace, a pilot officer, and was awarded many medals such as the Distinguished
Flying Medal. He racked up a total of 31 aerial dogfight kills.8 Beurling was one of many that
proudly defended their country. Citizens on the home front also aided Canada.
Withal, Canadian citizens on the home front played a huge role in the war effort. Initially,
The production of war material supported the country greatly. They produced trucks, tanks, guns,
ships and aircrafts. Many supplies were left back in Dunkirk, so the Canadian industry filled a
vital position. They produced more than 800,000 transport vehicles, 50,000 tanks, 40,000 guns
and 1,700,000 small arms.9 84,000 individuals were employed to build merchant ships and naval
ships.10 Many aircrafts such as the Lancaster were built by 120,000 men and women.11 Further, a
Canadian contribution to the war effort that should be recognized is Camp X, the Allies’ secret
intelligence and espionage training facility. This camp was intended to foster support between
Britain and neutral United States. The US was not supposed to be involved in these affairs,
however, quite timely, the camp opened the day before Pearl Harbour. During an intense
ten-week period, 500 Allied personnel trained and developed skills in silent killing, sabotage,
partisan work, recruitment, and more.12 These spies were highly trained and allowed much
information to be presented regarding insight on the enemy’s plans. Finally, the highly intelligent
Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King guided the nation through 6 painful years of
conflict and massive war effort. He always endeavoured to satisfy as many parties as he could
and to prevent problems for the nation. He promised the citizens that the war would be voluntary
to prevent protests and riots, he supported Britain while not alienating Quebec and he mediated
the sometimes difficult relationship between Britain and the US. Without a leader such as
Mackenzie King, it is presumed that Canada would have fallen apart during the war effort.
Canada’s contribution to the Allied war effort is substantially notable, and this is
exhibited by the fact that they supported on land, at sea and in the air, and on the home front.
Through the many Canadian troops sent on the battle fronts, by sea or in the air, the endless
supply of materiel, the financial support and much more, Canada addressed their independence
and importance as a country. Victory in favour of the Allies would, most likely, not have been
possible without this support. Canadians truly made their mark in the Second World War.
1 “Teamwork Quotes,” Quote Fancy, 2018, https://quotefancy.com/teamwork-quotes
(retrieved 15 May 2018).
2 “Canada Remembers the Italian Campaign,” Veterans Affairs Canada, 2018,
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/pish (retrieved 30 April
3 “Canada Remembers the Italian Campaign,” Veterans Affairs Canada.
4 Bonikowski, Laura, “Tommy Prince,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2008,
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/tommy-prince/ (retrieved 8 May 2018).
5 “The Battle of Britain,” Veterans Affairs Canada, 2018,
world-war/batbri (retrieved 3 May 2018).
6 “The Battle of the Atlantic,” Veterans Affairs Canada, 2018,
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/atlantic (retrieved May 3
7 “The Battle of the Atlantic,” Veterans Affairs Canada.
8 “George Beurling,” Wikipedia, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Beurling
(retrieved 13 May 2018).
9 “Canadian Production of War Materials,” Veterans Affairs Canada, 2018,
http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/material (retrieved 3 May
10 “Canadian Production of War Materials,” Veterans Affairs Canada.
11 “Canadian Production of War Materials,” Veterans Affairs Canada.
12 Lynn Philip Hodgson, “Camp X,” Reader’s Digest, 2017,
http://www.readersdigest.ca/travel/canada/camp-x-spy-training-school/view-all/ (retrieved 13
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http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/tommy-prince/ (Retrieved 8 May
“George Beurling.” Wikipedia. 2018.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Beurling (Retrieved 13 May 2018)
Hodgson, Lynn Philip. “Camp X.” Reader’s Digest. 2017.
(Retrieved 13 May 2018)
Veterans Affairs Canada. 2018.
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