10 Great Canadian World War II Battles to Remember

As Canada prepares itself for another Remembrance Day, we decided to take you to the fields of Normandy, to Dieppe beach in northern France, to the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and to the battles where Canadian soldiers battled, shed blood and gave their lives for our country and for our freedom.

  • Dieppe's chert beach and cliffBattle of Dieppe (August 19, 1942): Dieppe is known as one of the biggest disasters of WWII for Canadians. Just over 6,000 troops invaded, of which 5,000 were Canadian and of which approximately 3,000 were taken prisoner or died.  Read more on the Battle of Dieppe or the Dieppe Raid.
  • D-Day in Normandy (June 6, 1944): 14,000 Canadian troops landed in Normandy in June 1944 to join American and British troops to make up Allied Forces to invade France. This was a turning point in WWII when the Allies broke through the Atlantic Wall, fortressed by the Germans.  Read more on D-Day in Normandy.
  • Battle of the Atlantic (September 3, 1939 to May 7, 1945): Known as one of the longest battles in history, the Battle of the Atlantic was a six-year-long battle along the supply route between North America and the United Kingdom. Read more on the Battle of the Atlantic.
  • Air Raid ShelterBattle of Britain (July 10, 1940 to October 31, 1940): This campaign was both the first major battle by only the air forces as well as the largest bombing effort attempted until that date. It was considered another huge turning point in the war, as Germany’s attempt to destabilize the Allies and British air forces failed. A small number of fighter pilots from Canada were part of this battle. Read more on the Battle of Britain.
  • Battle of Hong Kong (December 1941): With Hong Kong and Canada both falling under Britain as colonies, Canadian soldiers were deployed to Hong Kong to help the Chinese against an invasion from the Japanese in December of 1941. One of the most courageous displays of heroism, 1,975 Canadian soldiers fought overwhelming odds with little training and little hope – but refused to surrender until overrun. Those who were not killed were captured as prisons of war and were tortured by the Japanese. Read more on the Battle of Hong Kong.
  • Battle of Belgium (September to November 1944): A major battle in WWII history, the First Canadian Army was deployed for this mission. This army was international in character, from British to Canadians, Polish, Belgians and Dutch – the largest army under the leadership of a Canadian general. Their task was to clear coastal areas in northern France to keep Germans from attacking England. Of 450,000 troops, 105,000-175,000 were Canadian and 800 died. The army would then move on to liberate Scheldt, Belgium and the Netherlands from the Germans, also known as the geographical region of Flanders.
  • An example of the trenches Canadian Soilders would fit inBattle of Scheldt (October 1944 to November 1944) was also part of the First Canadian Army’s campaign in Belgium and the Netherlands. The British had already taken Brussels and Antwerp but could not progress since the shipping of supplies was impossible as the Germans controlled the Scheldt Estuary in between. A tough campaign with many losses, the First Canadian Army finally broke through and cleared the Scheldt on November 9, 1944 but lost almost 13,000 troops, half of whom were Canadians. Read more on the Battle of the Scheldt.
  • Liberation of Netherlands (September 1944 to April 1945): When Holland was overrun by the Nazis in May 1940, the First Canadian Army came to the aid. 7,600 Canadians died during the nine-month campaign but were able to free the Netherlands from the grasp of Germany. The relationship between the Netherlands and Canada is still remembered and honoured today between Canadians and Netherlanders. Read more on the Liberation of Holland.
  • Italy (July 1943 to February 1945): Canadian troops also played a vital part in the liberation of Italy. Campaigns were fought in both Sicily and mainland Italy against German troops. There was more than 25,000 casualties from the Italian campaign and more than 5,900 Canadian soliders were killed. Read more on the Allied Invasion of Sicily and the Allied Invasion of Mainland Italy
  • Battles in Asia: A number of Canadian units were deployed in Asia during the war, including the Royal Canadian Air Force pilots as well as Royal Navy ships. A small group of two dozen were part of a British unit in Burma, while approximately 40 Chinese-Canadians and Japanese-Canadians were part of a British intelligence organization in Japan. Many others were posted in Malaya, Singapore and Indonesia.

Be sure to read up on Events, Memorials and Ceremonies in Ottawa, Canada this Remembrance Day in November and all year round.

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