Introduction

The Second World War lasted six terrible years and left a legacy of death and destruction. It was truly a world war encircling the globe from the Atlantic to the Pacific and touching the far reaches of the Arctic. Nor was it confined to soldiers and battlefields, for new weapons of destruction made war possible on the land, in the air, and beneath the seas, and brought death and suffering indiscriminately to the young and the old, to their homes and their hearts.

A few pages are not sufficient for a full account of that war—its causes, its events, its heroism and its treachery. The aim here is simply to tell something of the story of the Canadians who went overseas, to give some idea of where they fought and died, and what they were able to achieve.

For a young nation it was a remarkable achievement. Serving in the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and with other Allied Forces, thousands of young Canadians fought from 1939 to 1945 on the battlefronts of the world. They were there to defend the United Kingdom when it appeared that Nazi invasion was imminent. They fought valiantly in the unsuccessful attempt to defend Hong Kong against the Japanese. At Dieppe they bore the brunt of a daring, but fateful raid against the enemy-controlled coast of France. Above all they played their part in two great campaigns: they fought for twenty months in Italy, and were in the front lines when the Allies returned to Continental Europe on D-Day in 1944.

They brought honour and a new respect to their country. Most of all they helped to win the struggle against the tyranny and oppression which threatened to engulf the world. It was for our freedom that these young Canadians fought, and it was for that freedom that many of them died.

More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the Second World War. Of these more than 45,000 gave their lives, and another 55,000 were wounded. Countless others shared the suffering and hardship of war.

These few words are dedicated to those who fought so that we might live in freedom. It is their valour that we must remember.

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