Canada at Britain's Side
Canada dispatched military forces to Britain as soon as possible
On September 3, 1939, Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King (right of microphone) and Minister of Justice Ernest Lapointe (left) speak to the nation on the CBC radio network, King in English and Lapointe in French.
As was the case in 1914, Britain's declaration of war did not automatically commit Canada. However, no one questioned what Canada's response would be. The Canadian people and government were united in their support for Britain and France. After parliament debated the matter, Canada declared war on Germany on September 10, 1939.
The Royal Canadian Air Force had about 3,100 airmen and only 270 aircraft, of which only 20 fell into the category of "not yet obsolete". The Navy consisted of about 1,800 sailors, 6 destroyers and 4 minesweepers. The army, outdated, undermanned and unprepared for another global conflict, grew rapidly at the outbreak of war. 58,844 Canadian men enlisted in September 1939 alone.
| 1939|| 64,902
|| 1940|| 121,823
| 1941|| 93,529
|| 1942|| 130,438
| 1943|| 77,068
|| 1944|| 74,642
| 1945|| 42,545
|| -|| -
The first Canadians set sail for Europe, like their fathers before them, in December 1939. Canada sent two fighter squadrons to Britain before the end of 1940, with many more to follow, and the Royal Canadian Navy was at Britain's disposal.
From the beginning it almost look as if it was a lost cause. By June 1940, Germany had defeated the France and occupied most of Western Europe. Italy also entered the war on Germany's side and formed the "Axis" alliance. With it's Allies in Europe defeated, Britain was threatened with invasion. For more than a year until Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, Canada was Britain's principal ally in the struggle against tyranny.
Source: Canadian War Museum, Canada Official History: 1939-1945
Last updated on Nov 30, 2006 22:00. Page viewed 48516 times.