Jewish Canadian service in the Second World War

Headstone of Private Issie Bell of Montréal in the Agira Canadian War Cemetery in Sicily. The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment soldier was killed on July 25, 1943, during the assault on the town of Nissoria. Submitted photo

Introduction

Canada played an important role in helping the Allies achieve victory in the Second World War. Many elements of our country’s diverse society came together for this cause, one of the foremost being Jewish Canadians. More than 17,000 men and women from our nation’s tiny wartime Jewish community of 168,000 residents would serve in uniform during the conflict, putting their lives on the line in the cause of peace and freedom.

Jews took part in all of Canada’s major battles—from Hong Kong to Dieppe, Ortona to D-Day, and beyond. They served with distinction and nearly 200 of their ranks received decorations for gallantry and other official citations for their exemplary service. These contributions came at a high cost, however, with nearly 450 Jewish Canadians losing their lives during the Second World War.

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** Veterans Affairs Canada offers its sincere thanks to Ellin Bessner, author of Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military, and World War II, for her invaluable assistance in the development of this web feature.

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