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Canada and World War 2

Canada's Role
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The Battle of Britain, which was fought from July to October 1940, was the beginning of a struggle against the Nazis that would last until 1945. Canadian pilots fought alongside Allied pilots in the air. Canafian aircrews also bombed German forces from the sky. In the seas, Canadians helped to ensure that supplies crossed the Atlantic safely. They also helped to track and sink German Submarines with radar.

Canadians at Hong Kong, 1941

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The USS Arizona ablaze after the attack on Pearl Harbour

On the 7th of December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, giving the United States a reason to enter the war. Canada joined in declaring war on Japan. It now truly became a World War. European countries were held up with Hitler and Mussolini (Italy's dictator), which gave Japan a chance to take over the European colonies in Asia. Hong Kong was a vital colony to Britain. British, Canadian, and Indian soldiers were stationed there to help defend.

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The Victoria Cross

The Canadian troops in Hong Kong were the first to see battle during World War II. The Japanese forces were attacking them with artillery and airplanes. In Canada's last stand, Sergeant-Major John Osborne won Canada's first Victoria Cross. His unit was being trapped in by the Japanese. While the Canadians were running through a ravine, the Japanese bombarded them with grenades. Osborne quickly picked them up and threw them back. When one grenade landed too far from reach, Osborne told his troops to clear out and threw himself on the grenade. He was killed instantly.

The Canadians were not well-equipped. After 17 days of fighting, the Canadians surrendered on the 25th of December 1941. They lost 290 soldiers, including their commander, and 500 were wounded. This, however, was just the beginning.

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Japanese Prison Guards

Survivors of Hong Kong were transferred to a Japanese Prison Camp for the remainder of World War II. These Prisoners of War were used for slave labour in coal and iron mines. 267 Canadians died in Japanese Prison Camps. At the end of the war, many POW's were like skeletons. Many had diseases and were weak from years of torture. Many Canadian veterans from Hong Kong have pressed Canada to extract a formal apology from Japan and to compensate for their losses.

The Dieppe Raid, 1942

By August 1942, the Allies had created a plan. Canadian and British troopswere to test the German forces along Dieppe on the French coast.

The Dieppe Raid was planned to be a quick "punch" at the Germans. The Allies wanted to worry the Germans, and gather crucial information about Germany's plans. The Raid was called "Operation Jubiee".

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The Dieppe Raid, 1942

At 4:50 a.m on the 19th of August 1942, 5000 Canadian soldiers began to land on the beaches of Dieppe. However, their element of surprise was lost and the Germans were ready for the attack. German crafts began to attack once the Canadian soldiers left their landing crafts and began to run for cover. The sea and air support were not enough to help the soldiers on land. Tanks that were meant to help lead the way became stuck on the beaches. The raid had become a disaster.

Some of the forces had managed to make it past the beaches into the town, but many were killed there. By the early afternoon, almost 900 troops were dead or dying. Over 1000 were wounded and 1900 were taken as Prisoners of War by the Germans, and only 2200 returned to Britain.

Today people still argue over whether the raid had been properly planned. Many people believed that some of the losses could have been avoided. To this day, however, there is no marker or memorial on the beaches of Dieppe. The only thing left on the beaches from the soldiers is blood.

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Created by Sarah Lucas. Final History Assignment 2005-2006.