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World War II Canada’s Role. The War Begins… The Second World War began at dawn on September 1, 1939, as the German Armies swept into Poland. With the.

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Presentation on theme: "World War II Canada’s Role. The War Begins… The Second World War began at dawn on September 1, 1939, as the German Armies swept into Poland. With the."— Presentation transcript:

1 World War II Canada’s Role

2 The War Begins… The Second World War began at dawn on September 1, 1939, as the German Armies swept into Poland. With the full fury of the blitzkrieg - the lightning war - the German armoured (Panzer) divisions destroyed Polish defenses in the west. The Soviet troops, as previously agreed with Germany, crossed the eastern frontier. Trapped between two advancing armies Polish resistance ended. Poland surrendered. The Second World War began at dawn on September 1, 1939, as the German Armies swept into Poland. With the full fury of the blitzkrieg - the lightning war - the German armoured (Panzer) divisions destroyed Polish defenses in the west. The Soviet troops, as previously agreed with Germany, crossed the eastern frontier. Trapped between two advancing armies Polish resistance ended. Poland surrendered. German troops parade through Warsaw after the surrender of Poland. September 28-30, 1939.

3 Enter Canada… Britain and France, honouring their pledge to Poland, declared war on Germany on September 3rd. Although not automatically committed by Britain's declaration of war (Statute of Westminster 1931), there was little doubt that Canada would quickly follow. On September 7 Parliament met in special session; on September 9 it approved support to Britain and France; and on September 10 th 1939, Canada declared war. Britain and France, honouring their pledge to Poland, declared war on Germany on September 3rd. Although not automatically committed by Britain's declaration of war (Statute of Westminster 1931), there was little doubt that Canada would quickly follow. On September 7 Parliament met in special session; on September 9 it approved support to Britain and France; and on September 10 th 1939, Canada declared war. The House of Commons on September 7, 1939, the first day of the special session in which Canada's Parliament decided to declare war on Germany.

4 Canadian Preparations When Canada declared war in 1939, there were only about soldiers in its armed forces. During the Depression years, the government had reduced military spending. In , the budget for defence was only $35 million. In 1939, the Canadian army possessed only 14 tanks; 29 Bren guns, 23 anti-tank rifles and 5 small mortar guns. The Canadian navy had exactly 10 operational vessels, and the Royal Canadian Air Force had only 50 modern aircraft. When Canada declared war in 1939, there were only about soldiers in its armed forces. During the Depression years, the government had reduced military spending. In , the budget for defence was only $35 million. In 1939, the Canadian army possessed only 14 tanks; 29 Bren guns, 23 anti-tank rifles and 5 small mortar guns. The Canadian navy had exactly 10 operational vessels, and the Royal Canadian Air Force had only 50 modern aircraft. Though largely unprepared for war, Canada was quick to respond. At this point, the government hoped that Canada’s role would be limited. Prime Minister Mackenzie King was prepared to send roughly troops and anticipated a role as the main supplier of food and war materials for Britain. However, he did not want the war to involve a costly expenditure of Canadian lives, and above all, he wanted to avoid another conscription crisis at all costs. Though largely unprepared for war, Canada was quick to respond. At this point, the government hoped that Canada’s role would be limited. Prime Minister Mackenzie King was prepared to send roughly troops and anticipated a role as the main supplier of food and war materials for Britain. However, he did not want the war to involve a costly expenditure of Canadian lives, and above all, he wanted to avoid another conscription crisis at all costs.

5 Canada Steps Up By the end of September, over Canadian men and women had enlisted in the armed forces. Many recruits were unemployed men who were grateful for a new pair of boots, a warm uniform and coat, three square meals a day and a soldier’s basic pay of $1.30 per day. As in 1914, these recruits were all volunteers, however they went off to war in a much more sombre mood than the young recruits in By the end of September, over Canadian men and women had enlisted in the armed forces. Many recruits were unemployed men who were grateful for a new pair of boots, a warm uniform and coat, three square meals a day and a soldier’s basic pay of $1.30 per day. As in 1914, these recruits were all volunteers, however they went off to war in a much more sombre mood than the young recruits in On September 16 the first convoy left for England. By January 1940, mostly untrained Canadian troops were in Britain. Their rallying cry declared, “We’ve come here to do a job and then go home”. The hope was that the war would be over quickly. Events would soon erase this hope. On September 16 the first convoy left for England. By January 1940, mostly untrained Canadian troops were in Britain. Their rallying cry declared, “We’ve come here to do a job and then go home”. The hope was that the war would be over quickly. Events would soon erase this hope.

6 At War! In 1940, within the first four weeks of action, Hitler’s modern army crushed Polish defences. Next Germany overran Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Soon, Hitler turned his attention to France. In 1940, within the first four weeks of action, Hitler’s modern army crushed Polish defences. Next Germany overran Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Soon, Hitler turned his attention to France.

7 Britain to the Rescue??? Thousands of British troops raced across the English Channel to defend France. A contingent of Canadian soldiers remained in Britain to defend against the expected German invasion. Thousands of British troops raced across the English Channel to defend France. A contingent of Canadian soldiers remained in Britain to defend against the expected German invasion. Despite Britain's valiant effort, the Germans advanced rapidly into France leaving both British and French troops trapped. Despite Britain's valiant effort, the Germans advanced rapidly into France leaving both British and French troops trapped.

8 The Miracle of Dunkirk In May, 1940, British troops had to be evacuated from the seaport town of Dunkirk on the French coast. In May, 1940, British troops had to be evacuated from the seaport town of Dunkirk on the French coast. Three hundred thousand soldiers were rescued by boats of all sizes- in addition to the British destroyers, a makeshift fleet of sightseeing boats, river ferries, fishing boats and privately owned crafts sailed across the British Channel to return the stranded troops safely back to Britain. Three hundred thousand soldiers were rescued by boats of all sizes- in addition to the British destroyers, a makeshift fleet of sightseeing boats, river ferries, fishing boats and privately owned crafts sailed across the British Channel to return the stranded troops safely back to Britain. Despite the “miracle” it was a terrible defeat, much of the heavy British war equipment had to be abandoned and France fell in six weeks. Despite the “miracle” it was a terrible defeat, much of the heavy British war equipment had to be abandoned and France fell in six weeks.

9 Elsewhere in the world… On June 10th of 1940, Italian dictator Mussolini decided to enter the war on Germany’s side. On June 10th of 1940, Italian dictator Mussolini decided to enter the war on Germany’s side. Soon almost all of Europe was under the control of the Axis powers; with only Britain and its Commonwealth allies outside their grasp of power. Soon almost all of Europe was under the control of the Axis powers; with only Britain and its Commonwealth allies outside their grasp of power.

10 The Move to Centre Stage… Although Prime Minister King had hoped Canada would be a supplier of war materials in a short, limited war, the reverse was soon true. Hitler’s dramatic success meant that Britain stood alone in Europe and depended more than ever on Canada’s support. Although Prime Minister King had hoped Canada would be a supplier of war materials in a short, limited war, the reverse was soon true. Hitler’s dramatic success meant that Britain stood alone in Europe and depended more than ever on Canada’s support. The Canadian troops in Britain were fresh and well equipped and more could be sent. As in WWI Canadian convoys were a vital lifeline to the survival of Britain. The Canadian troops in Britain were fresh and well equipped and more could be sent. As in WWI Canadian convoys were a vital lifeline to the survival of Britain. Canadian food, guns, supplies and armed forces were desperately needed. Thus Canada, despite reluctance to take on such a large role within the war, quickly moved to center stage. Canadian food, guns, supplies and armed forces were desperately needed. Thus Canada, despite reluctance to take on such a large role within the war, quickly moved to center stage.


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