Summer 2011

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Published on 22 Jun 2011
School
UTSG
Department
History
Course
HIS102Y1
Professor
Monday, June 20, 2011
HIS311Y
Prof. C. Pennington
The Second World War 1939 - 1945
Parliament will decide” - 1939
decided to make a limited commitment
there was enthusiasm for the war but there was also some hesitation
there was a brief debate against the issue
CCF party leader voted against
Sept. 10 Canada declared war on Germany
King wanted to wait a week to let the world know that Canada could make its own decisions
Kings Wartime Promises
national unity
first and most important of his priorities
signaled a different approach from Bordens (he was ultimately willing to sacrifice unity to win)
King would go to almost any length to preserve unity
this meant he would not use conscription
it was necessary to reassure (especially French Canadians) that this was a war of limited liability
military victory
King did not feel that Canada was going to be a principal player in the war anyway
it was only important to let the world know that Canada had done its bit
King did not understand the military: tactics, ranks, etc.
he did not impose himself on talks of strategy
took a relatively passive role in the act of military strategy
mediating between Britain and the US
King envisioned himself as the ‘linchpin between Great Britain and US
he thought: b/c of its unique status Canada had a unique understanding of both sides and would be an ideal
mediator between the two
he called this the premise ofthe North American triangle”: it governed Kings foreign policy thinking
part of his idea to situate himself between the two great powers
Limited liability” to June 1940
BCATP trainees at Aylmer, ON 1942
No conscription!
French Canada was still weary of conscription (even though it was promised not to be used) and war in
general
didn’t seem that this would be the kind of war in which conscription would be necessary
air power was the defying factor of this war
King reluctantly decided to send about 40 000 troops to serve in England
it was a volunteer division - and it was more than King wanted to do
what really suited King was to make financial commitments - not so much men
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
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England needed somewhere the British could train rapidly and safely
Canadas single most important contribution to the war
King was happy to accept the notion
more than 50 new air bases were built (many of which were turned into modern day airports such as Pearson)
over the life of the BCATP over 130 000 personnel would train
coming about 1/2 from Canada and the rest from other parts of the British empire (Australia, South Africa,
etc.)
this was the kind of commitment King wanted: highly successful; it served a real need; cost $1.6B (in a time
when the Canadian national budget was $500M)
best of all: did not kill anybody except training accidents (800 men)
this is not our war
said out of frustration when British protested the high prices of food he was negotiating
up until winter 1940 he did not think Canada would have to commit any further
Battle of the Atlantic 1939-42
a corvette operating in rough Atlantic waters
there were hundreds of individual battles between German subs and British supply boats
German subs were used for this purpose: to starve the British by cutting off supplies from North America
usually they never knew a battle was on until a ship was hit by a torpedo
a very scary war for the navy who protected the convoys but also for the civilian merchant marines
if the ship was hit you would probably freeze to death w/in 5 mins
the war didn’t go so well
by 1942 over 2 000 ships were sunk
aircrafts flew to spot subs but there was a section called theBlack Hole where planes could not travel - most
of the damage was done here
corvettes
quickly, cheaply built small boats designed to fight submarines
purpose: only to sink subs as they had no arms power
they wouldn’t sink but they would roll over terribly
days were spent sea sick and hacking ice off the ships (and waiting)
if subs were encountered the corvettes had a single gun
depth charges: explosives which would be fired off the side of the ship, would sink a lil and then would
explode (looked like barrels)
couldn’t tell if you had hit the sub with a depth charge or not
boats operated in “wolf packs”
they would surround the sub and shoot it
not until they broke the German code w/the enigma machine did they know how to spot them
Churchill called the corvettescheap but nasty”: a far-from-perfect solution
The disastrous spring of 1940
Hitler poses in front of the Eiffel Tower after the fall of France
there was the sentiment that this was somewhat of a “phony war
Germany had embraced new technology
Blitzkrieg resumes
combining tanks with infantry and air attacks was called lightning warfare
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Document Summary

Parliament will decide - 1939 decided to make a limited commitment there was enthusiasm for the war but there was also some hesitation there was a brief debate against the issue.  king wanted to wait a week to let the world know that canada could make its own decisions.  first and most important of his priorities.  signaled a different approach from borden"s (he was ultimately willing to sacrifice unity to win)  king would go to almost any length to preserve unity.  this meant he would not use conscription.  it was necessary to reassure (especially french canadians) that this was a war of limited liability: military victory.  king did not feel that canada was going to be a principal player in the war anyway.  it was only important to let the world know that canada had done its bit.  king did not understand the military: tactics, ranks, etc.