Language selection

Canada Remembers Times - 2010 Edition - Page 1

Download the PDF Version.
PDF Version 3.66 MB

V-J Day at last!

Canadian and British prisoners of war in Hong Kong awaiting liberation by landing party from HMCS Prince Robert.
Photo: LAC PA-114811

During the Second World War, approximately 10,000 Canadians served in Asia. Almost 2,000 soldiers from Manitoba’s Winnipeg Grenadiers and Quebec’s Royal Rifles of Canada set sail for Hong Kong in late October 1941 to help defend the British Crown Colony. The Japanese invaded on December 8, 1941. Badly outnumbered, the defenders fought bravely before being forced to surrender on Christmas Day. Approximately 290 Canadians were killed and almost 500 wounded. The survivors’ ordeal was just beginning. Over the next four years, 267 more would die as a result of malnutrition, beatings by prison guards and forced labour. Ronald Routledge of Saskatchewan was there:

“Well, I went down to a hundred pounds, you know. I was maybe a hundred and eighty odd pounds when I was my normal weight, but I was down to about a hundred pounds.”

Many other Canadians also saw action in Asia during the war, including thousands of Royal Canadian Air Force airmen who served in the Burma Campaign as radar operators and members of bomber, transport, reconnaisance and fighter squadrons. Ontario’s Leonard Birchall was even dubbed “the Saviour of Ceylon” by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill after detecting the Japanese invasion fleet sailing for the island of Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). His plane was shot down, but not before the crew had radioed a warning that helped the Allies repel the attack.

Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. V-J (Victory over Japan) Day marked the end of years of fighting in the Second World War. The Canadian POWs were finally liberated and returned home.

Learn More

Newfoundlanders in Gallipoli

Newfoundland Regiment soldiers in front line trenches in Gallipoli.
Photo: Public Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador VA37-1-3

When Britain declared war in August 1914, Newfoundland, which was a colony of Britain at the time, responded quickly by recruiting its first 1,000 men for overseas service.

In September 1915, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment landed on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula, joining British, Australian and New Zealand troops. Gallipoli would be the Newfoundlanders’ first experience of the horrors of trench warfare—artillery fire, snipers, great cold and disease caused by living in such harsh conditions. The regiment also earned its first battle honour when they captured “Caribou Hill” in November. They covered the withdrawal of Allied troops from the region, being among the last to leave in January 1916. Approximately 40 Newfoundlanders had died, a taste of the great casualties the regiment would soon suffer on the Western Front.

100 Years of the Canadian Navy

HMCS Charlottetown serving in the Arabian Sea in 2008.
Photo: DND HS2008-J018-006

The Canadian Navy was founded in 1910. At the outbreak of the First World War, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) only had two ships and fewer than 350 men. It would play such roles as controlling shipping in Canadian ports, performing radio-telegraph services and undertaking mine sweeping and patrolling operations during the war.

The Second World War saw the RCN grow greatly and play an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic — the struggle between the Allied navies, who needed to maintain the vital flow of war materials from North America to Europe, and the German U-boats (submarines) that wanted to cut off that supply. By the end of the war, Canada had the third-largest navy in the world with 434 vessels and 95,000 men and women in uniform.

During the Korean War, eight Canadian destroyers helped blockade the enemy coast, guard against amphibious landings, protect aircraft carriers, bombard coastal areas and assist isolated fishing villages.

With the unification of the Canadian military in the late 1960s, the RCN became the sea arm of the Canadian Forces. Our ships patrolled Canada’s shores during the Cold War, watching for Soviet submarines, and have served with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces over the years. The Canadian Navy tradition of service continues today, whether guarding our coasts, watching for smuggling, undertaking sovereignty operations in the North, or patrolling the waters off Southwest Asia in the fight against terrorism.

The Murmansk Run

Map of Murmansk Run

One of the most dangerous routes sailed by the Merchant Navy during the Second World War was the notorious Murmansk Run. Despite constant German attack and extreme weather conditions, supplies were shipped to the Arctic port of Murmansk to assist the Soviet Union in its fight against Germany. It was so dangerous that if a ship was sunk, the survivors could not be rescued.

From 1941 to 1945, more than forty convoys sailed, transporting millions of tons of supplies, such as aircraft, tanks, jeeps, locomotives, flatcars, guns, ammunition, fuel and millions of pairs of boots. These supplies allowed the Soviet Union to continue fighting Germany on the Eastern Front, thus preventing the Germans from concentrating all their forces against the Allies in the West.

The Liberation of the Netherlands

Dutch civilians celebrating liberation of Utrecht by units of the 1st Canadian Corps.
Photo: LAC PA-140417

The liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War is one of the most famous chapters in our country’s military heritage. In late 1944 and early 1945, the Canadians battled to push the Germans from the country they had occupied since the spring of 1940. With its challenging terrain of canals, dikes and floodlands, the Netherlands was a tough place to fight.

After opening battles in the fall of 1944, bad weather brought the offensive to a halt. That winter was a terrible time for the Dutch—food and fuel supply reserves were gone; people ate tulip bulbs and scavenged through garbage to survive. Thousands starved or froze to death.

Early in the new year, the push began to finally liberate the country. The Canadian troops were cheered as one town after another was freed. It was a memorable period, as one Dutch teenager at the time recalled: “As the (Canadian) tank came nearer . . . there was a big hush over all the people and it was suddenly broken by a big scream, as if it was out of the earth. And the people climbed on the tank . . . and they were crying. And we were running with the tanks and the jeeps all the way into the city.”

Helping liberate the Netherlands was a proud achievement for our country, but one that came at a great cost. More than 7,600 Canadians died in the effort.

Learn More

Date modified: