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10 Quick Facts on... The Second World War

  1. For Canada, the Second World War officially began on September 10, 1939, with a declaration of war against Germany. This occurred following the declaration of war made by England and France on September 3rd.
  2. The Dieppe Raid occurred on August 19, 1942. Known as Operation Jubilee, it involved more than 6,000 men, including almost 5,000 Canadians. The soldiers went ashore at five different points along a 16-kilometre stretch of heavily defended coastline. More than 3,350 Canadians became casualties, including approximately 1,950 who were taken as prisoners of war. In total, 916 Canadians died during the ill-fated raid.
  3. What is known as the Italian Campaign began when Allied Forces, including Canada, went ashore in Sicily on July 10, 1943, during Operation Husky. The Allies fought for more than four weeks before defeating the Italians. The fall of Sicily cleared the way for the Allies’ next step on September 3, 1943: landing in mainland Italy. Canadian casualties in the Italian Campaign totaled more than 26,000, of which nearly 6,000 died.
  4. D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944, when the Allies went ashore on the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy, France. More than 14,000 Canadians participated in what was known as Operation Overlord. Ground, sea and air forces rehearsed endlessly for over a year prior to the landings to make sure their timing and coordination were perfect.
  5. More than 50,000 women served in the military with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWACs), the Royal Canadian Air Force – Women’s Division (WDs), the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (Wrens) and as Nursing Sisters.
  6. At least 3,000 Aboriginal Canadians volunteered to serve in the Second World War.
  7. Sixteen Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy during the war.
  8. The Royal Canadian Navy began the war with 13 vessels and 3,500 sailors, and ended it as one of the largest navies in the world with 373 ships and more than 110,000 sailors.
  9. More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the Second World War. More than 45,000 gave their lives and another 55,000 were wounded.
  10. The Second World War officially ended on May 8, 1945, in Europe (V-E Day) and on August 15, 1945, in the Pacific (V-J Day).
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