Grade 11 History of Canada, a Foundation for Implementation

11.4.3 How was Canada’s presence on the world stage shaped by its role in the Second World War and its growing participation in the international community?

The Second World War: Battle of Hong Kong (1941); Dieppe Raid; Allied Invasion of Italy; Normandy Invasion and Campaign in NW Europe (D-Day, June 6, 1944 Juno Beach)

Canada in the Post-War World: Korean War (1950-1953)

Application: Virtually the entire STANDING ON GUARD series can be applied to this essential question.  Canadians participated fully in the Second World War, on land and sea and air, from the Far East to throughout Europe.  Each film has a significant section on the Second World War.  Some samples are below:

Disc 1 Film #1: The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada

1) The segment on the Dieppe Raid tells this story from a first person point of view, with veteran Ken Smith’s recounting of the raid (in which he took part).  Newsreel footage from this tragic episode is in abundance as the Germans documented their success in defending against the raid and the film was eventually captured by the Allies.

Disc 2 Film #5: The Winnipeg Grenadiers

1) The tragic story of the Battle of Hong Kong is told from different perspectives including that of George Peterson, one of the last surviving Grenadiers who survived the battle and subsequent incarceration in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp.  George’s first-hand account is supplemented by Grenadiers historian Vince Lopata, as well as by children and grandchildren of former Grenadiers.  Virtually the whole film references this sad but valiant and ultimately triumphant chapter in Canadian military history.

Disc 2 Film #4: 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

1) The segment in this film on the Italian Campaign features some of the best combat footage to be found in the Canadian Army Newsreels collection.  It’s riveting and frustrating too when it is learned that a British politician, Lady Astor, accused the soldiers involved in the Italian Campaign as being “D-Day Dodgers”.  This segment shows how brutal and costly the Italian Campaign was for Canadians, a responsibility we bore without complaint.

2) The participation of Canada in the Korean War is a very exciting segment from this film and can convey in a relatively short period of time the unique challenges of this war and the tenacity and resilience of Canadian troops at the Battle of Kapyong.

Disc 1 Film #2: The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

1) The segment specifically on the Normandy Invasion is very useful as it includes first-hand accounts from Cliff Chadderton of the War Amps and Paul Martin, both of whom landed with the first wave of Canadians to hit the beach.  There is nothing more riveting than a veteran’s first-hand account of a battle.

Disc 1 Film #3: The Fort Garry Horse

1) The segment on the participation by The Fort Garry Horse on Juno Beach is utterly fascinating as it includes an explanation as well as incredible newsreel footage of the use of duplex drive tanks—floating tanks!  This tactic has to be seen to be believed.  The terrible cost of war has rarely been so poignantly told.

2) The segment featuring former trooper Stan Butterworth, who survived the fighting in North West Europe as a member of a tank crew, is powerfully conveyed when he reads from a letter he wrote to his parents in 1944 informing them of the death of his brother, also a member of a tank crew who was killed helping to liberate the Dutch village of Groningen.

Disc 2 Film #6: 38 Service Battalion

1) There is considerable use of Second World War newsreels in this film, much of it showing how essential services like the delivery and making of food, to a visit to the traveling dentist, to laundry services and more were organized and accomplished.  Wherever the Canadian Army served—Hong Kong, Normandy, Dieppe, Italy—the Service Battalions were at hand.

Discussion: Some possible subjects and questions for discussion are suggested STANDING ON GUARD series:

  • What was the real purpose of the Dieppe Raid? (D-Day testing ground)
  • Was the raid doomed from the start? (poor planning, hard lessons learned)
  • What was a particular physical impediment that was not taken into account in the planning of the raid and which contributed to Canadian casualties? (large round stones on the beach which prevented the Allied tanks from getting traction)
  • Why were The Winnipeg Grenadiers sent to Hong Kong? (to guard the garrison)
  • Where else did the Japanese attack when they attacked Hong Kong? (Pearl Harbour)
  • What were some particular hardships the POWs faced? (lack of food/medicine, and beatings)
  • Following D-Day, what tragic circumstances were encountered by The Royal Winnipeg Rifles? (capture and murder by the SS)
  • What are WASPs? (mounted flame throwers)
  • How were they effectively employed in the Netherlands? (firing in a line across the canals)
  • What problems did the duplex drive tanks face? (choppy seas, launched from too far out)
  • How did the Garrys assist some of the villages they liberated? (built roads and transported children to school)
  • What song is considered the regimental song of the Princess Patricias? (It’s A Long Way To Tipperary)
  • How did the Patricias spend Christmas during the invasion of Italy? (Pulled out of the line to have dinner, then sent back in)
  • Who was Lady Patricia?
  • Who is the current Colonel-in-Chief of the Patricias?
  • What essential services did the Service Battalions provide? (laundry, medical, dental, postal, etc.)
  • What was the role of women in the army during the Second World War?
  • What acronym were the women soldiers know by? (CWACS)

Research: Suggested topics for further research:

  • What were conditions like for Canadian POWs in Europe compared to Japan?
  • The Fort Garry Horse formerly sponsored Soldier For A Day, an event for students that is documented in their film. View and discuss how this exposure to military life can help a young person appreciate the role of the military.
  • What is the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association?
  • How important was Japan’s apology to Canadian veterans?
  • When did this apology finally take place and what were the details?