HIS311Y1 Study Guide - Final Guide: William Lyon Mackenzie King, Combined Food Board, Cryptanalysis Of The Enigma

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24 Apr 2012
The Second World War, 1939-45
William Lyon Mackenzie King
- William Lyon Mackenzie King was a Liberal politician who was prime minister of Canada in 1921-
26, 1926-30, and 1935-48
- Leader of the Liberal Party from 1919-48, and prime minister for almost 22 of those years, King
was the dominant political figure in an era of major changes
- Insisted on Canadian autonomy in relations with Great Britain and contributed to the definition
of Dominion status at the 1926 Imperial conference
- Had hoped war could be averted through appeasement
- He insisted that the Canadian Parliament would decide on Canada’s participation if war came,
and to make such a decision more palatable, particularly to French Canadians, he promised
there would be no conscription for overseas service
- Initially pursued a war policy of “limited liability”, but as the western allies began to fall and as
Britain was being attacked during the Battle of Britain, King increasingly shifted away from this
policy towards a policy of total war
- Dealt with the conscription crisis of 1942-44 very well, appeasing most French Canadians with
his reluctance and plebiscite
- King did not play a decisive role in the postwar era, preferring a minimal role for the government
at home and abroad
- He was persuaded to resign as prime minister in 1948 and was succeeded by Louis St. Laurent,
and died 2 years later
- Significance
o Worked hard to keep the country united during the war (conscription crisis)
o Limited liability to total war
o Canadian autonomy from Britain
o Military and economic ties with US (Ogdensburg Agreement and the Hyde Park
Oscar Skelton
- 1878-1941
- Undersecretary of state for external affairs
- Liberal democrat and an uncompromising nationalist who believed Canada must take control of
its own affairs
- Had been a consistent nationalist throughout the 1930s
- His suspicion of British wiles and contempt for British policy had often boiled over during the
crises that preceded Hitler’s invasion of Poland
- If he had had his way, Canada would not have gone to war
- By 1940 eventually came around and advocated doing as much as possible for Britain
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Hume Wrong and “functional principle”
- Hume Wrong (1894-1954) was a Canadian diplomat and Canada’s ambassador to the United
States who is most notable for his coining of the “functional principle”
- Wrong felt that Canada was committing too much to the war and not getting enough influence
and power back from Britain in return
- Firstly, “The principle, I think, is that each member of the Grand Alliance should have a voice
proportionate to its contribution to the general war effort.
- Secondly, “The influence of the various countries should be greatest in connection with those
matters in which they are most directly concerned.
- Suggests that each country should have power and influence in determining war decisions that
is proportionate to its contribution to the general war effort
- Basically said that in those areas in which Canada had the resources of a great power food,
minerals, air power she should be treated like a great power
- Functionalism became the basis of Canadian wartime policy
- Combined Food Board Controversy
o An example of King trying to implement the functional principle
o He sought inclusion in one of the combined boards supervised how resources were used
during the war
o Canada was a huge supplier of foodstuffs for the allied cause, so King continually
hectored the Us and Britain to include Canada on the board
- Significance
o Shift in Canadian foreign policy the country had matured to the point where they felt
it made sense to have a foreign policy that went beyond simply supporting their allies.
King adopted this policy
o Combined Food Board
* “limited liability”
- General attitude towards WWII felt by many Canadians, including William Lyon Mackenzie King
at the beginning of the war
- Canada should do its part (provide foodstuffs, military equipment, etc.) but not necessarily
contribute militarily
- Britain felt Canada should be doing more
- “No conscription
o King promised at the beginning of the war that there would be no conscription
o He agreed to send a single squadron of volunteers, but no more
o Shows that what he really wanted to do was make contributions to the British effort
that would be meaningful but wouldn’t cost Canadian blood
- British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
o BCATP was set up by the British in December 1939
o It wasn’t feasible for Britain to provide a central place from which the air force could be
trained because it was so small and because Britain was liable to be bombed by the
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o King readily agreed to set it up in Canada because it would be in Canada and because it
would cost Canadian money, not blood
o King was also willing to foot most of the bill for the BCATP
- By 1940 this principle would be abandoned as Canadians became aware how dangerous the war
was become and seriously considering the possibility of Britain falling
- Significance
o Canada’s growing sense of autonomy in the post-WWI era
o Unwillingness to join the British cause unquestioning
o King is aware of English/French Canadian divide over the war
* B.C.A.T.P.
- The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was an agreement in which Canada would play the
host to a British Commonwealth air training facility, beginning in 1939
- Because Britain was so small and because it was very likely Britain would be bombed by the
Germans, it wasn’t a good idea to build the training facility there
- Canada, on the other hand, was across the ocean and had limitless space, so in 1939 King agreed
to allow the British to build it in Canada
- This decision was centered around the ample supplies of fuel, wide open spaces suitable for
navigation, industrial facilities for the production of trainer aircraft, and the lack of any real
threat from Germans or Japanese fighter planes
- Furthermore, King was willing to foot most of the bill for the BCATP, and Canada would pay
$1.6B of the total $2.2B
- The program was an enormous success, training approximately y130,000 air crew from around
the Empire, a little under a half of those were Canadian
- Significance
o Example of Mackenzie King’s “limited liability” during the first part of the war
o It would cost Canadian money, not blood
o Active role of Canada in the war effort, without necessarily providing troops
Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-45
- The Battle of the Atlantic, which lasted from 1939 until the war’s end in 1945, was fought across
the entire Atlantic ocean between Allied merchant ships and convoys against German U-boats
during the second world war
- German U-boats attempting to stop shipment of supplies to Britain (so they can’t continue their
war effort)
- Allied convoys would accompany these merchant ships
- By 1941, Germans had sunk about 61.2 million tons, only a third of which could be replaced
- By May 1941, however, British cryptographers solved the German naval Enigma code, giving
Britain the advantage
- Significance
o Canada provided around half of the convoy ships, corvettes
o New technology in the war, cracking ENIGMA code
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