Number of Soldiers: 16,883
Number of Fallen: 429
Number of Medal Holders: 200
Canada was a British Dominion in World War II.
With the outbreak of the war there was no enthusiasm among its Citizens for sending Forces to Europe, as there had been in World War I, in which Canadian Forces lost many fighters.
In the summer of 1940, after the fall of France, Canada began to hear demands for contribution to the war effort, including the mobilization of its Industry towards that end. A process of intensifying cooperation on security with the U.S.A. was initiated as well, against the background of fear by both Countries of German threats on the East Coast and of the Japanese on the West Coast.
At the war’s eruption, the Canadian Armed Forces were organized in a similar fashion to that of the British Military – 3 Arms – but small in dimension and equipped with obsolete weapons, and lacking proper training for war.
The Ground Force numbered about 4,200 Officers and Soldiers, and had 2 Light Tanks.
The Navy numbered about 2,000 persons, and had a limited number of Vessels, some modern and some obsolete.
The Air-Force numbered about 300 Officers and about 2,700 Soldiers, and had some 270 Aircraft, most of them in low airworthiness condition.
In addition, there were around 51,000 Militia-Men available in reserve.
The war caused a complete turnaround in the attitude of the Canadian citizens towards the Military’s disposition.
Recruitment of volunteers to the Army was launched, and in December, 1939, the first Canadian Division left for Europe. Enlistment continued, and 122,000 more people volunteered in 1940.
At the conclusion of the war, the Ground Forces stood at over 730,000 persons.
In 1942, the Force buildup plan was secured. It comprised, raising the Canadian First Army of 2 Corps, which included 3 Infantry Divisions, 2 Armored Divisions and another 2 Armored Regiments. Three additional Divisions were raised as well, to protect Canada’s East and West Coasts.
The 1st Canadian Infantry Division participated in the Campaign in France for a short time and in a most limited manner; the 2nd Division, under the command of the Canadian Corps, joined it in Britain.
A small Canadian Force was involved in the fighting against the Japanese in Hong Kong, in December, 1941. It absorbed casualties and many of its men were captured.
The involvement of a larger Force from the 2nd Division in the Raid on Dieppe, in France, in August, 1942, ended worse. Out of approximately 5,000 people, only about 2,200 returned to Britain, about 650 were killed, and about 2,000 were captured.
A Canadian Force also participated in the Battles against the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands, in 1943.
The lessons from these Battles were learned well and applied to the forthcoming Campaigns where Canadian Forces took part – the Invasions of Sicily, in July, 1943, and of France, in June, 1944.
In the Campaign in Italy a Canadian Corps was already fighting under the command of the British Eighth Army, and it played an important role in breaking through the different defensive lines that had been established by the Germans in the Italian “boot”.
The Canadian 3rd Division and another Armored Regiment participated in the Invasion of Normandy, repelled a number of fierce German attacks, closed the Falaise “pocket”, and advanced into Belgium.
At this stage, the Canadian Army that also had American, British and other Divisions under its command was put into operation. The 1st Canadian Corps joined it from Italy, in March, 1945, and their Forces crossed the Rhine into Germany. The Army liberated Holland and concluded its missions on the German Coast, east of the Elbe River.
The Canadian Air-Force sent 48 Squadrons to the war with about 94,000 people, most of them to Europe, where they operated in the framework of the RAF. These Squadrons took part in the Battle of Britain, and in Battles in Malta, the Western Desert and northwestern Europe. Its Transport Airplanes also operated in Ceylon and in the Burma Theatre, this in addition to Coastal defense missions at home.
The Air-Force’s main contribution was in with the Bomber section. The Canadian Bomber Wing executed one-eighths of the total number of missions that were conducted by entire British Bomber Command, and it also absorbed many losses, in people and in aircraft.
The Canadian Navy’s chief contribution to the war was essentially in the Campaign in the Atlantic Ocean. Most of its fighting was focused on protecting convoys from German U-Boat Submarine attacks. The Canadian Shipping Industry was mobilized to produce increasing numbers of Vessels for the Fleet. Until the end of 1942, the convoys absorbed many losses from the hits of those Submarines that even dared to enter Canadian territorial waters and attack Vessels from there. Then the turnaround occurred, with the introduction of new anti-submarine weapons that began increasing the number of German Submarines being struck. The Canadian Fleet also participated in operational activity in the English Channel, before and after the Invasion of Normandy, as well as in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Pacific Ocean. At the conclusion of the war, the Canadian Fleet numbered 365 Vessels of various kinds, including two Aircraft Carriers.
Overall, the Canadian Army suffered in the war approximately 42,000 dead, upwards of 54,000 wounded, and about 9,000 captured. The Air-Force suffered approximately 17,000 dead, and the Navy lost about 2,000 people and 24 Vessels.
Around 7% of the total Jewish population in Canada, 16,883 Jews, served in the Country’s Armed Forces. Most of them served in the European Theatre. Of record, 429 fell in battle, 334 were wounded, and 85 were captured by the Germans.
Canadian Jews served in all Corps and Forces, but many were particularly found in the Air-Force, in various duties and professions. They served as Pilots, Navigators, Gunners, and so on. Many were Officers, with Squadron and Wing Commanders also among them.
Some 200 Jewish fighters were awarded with all kinds of decorations and marks of distinction: 47 fighters were awarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross; others were awarded with the Military Cross, the Air-Force Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the British Empire Medal, and so forth