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World War II Epilogue

The Second World War was over. In the six years of conflict Canada had enlisted more than one million men and women in her armed forces. Of these, more than 45,000 gave their lives in the cause of peace and freedom.

While Canada's contribution to the victory was naturally smaller than that of her major allies, Great Britain and the United States, the quality of her achievement had been high. In the words of the official historian of the Canadian Army, Canada's record "might command respect even by the standards of the great powers".

It was not only the Canadian Army that emerged with a proud record. The Royal Canadian Air Force took a substantial share in the air offensive against the Nazi forces, and through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan helped to train large numbers of airmen from other nations of the Commonwealth. The Royal Canadian Navy played a vital role in protecting Allied convoys from Nazi submarines that lurked beneath the Atlantic and was ultimately entrusted with the bulk of the convoy work.

Canada's economic effort too was impressive and her financial contribution generous. A whole new series of industries was created to meet the demands for war supplies from munitions to motor vehicles, aircraft and ships. In the field of diplomacy, Canada played a particularly important liaison role between Great Britain and the United States.

It would be a mistake to over estimate Canada's contribution to the defeat of the Axis powers, but for a country of 11 million people it was remarkable, and was such as to win the respect of other nations. With the third largest navy, the fourth largest air force and an army of six divisions, Canada had become a significant military power.

Canada as a nation matured through the ordeal of war and was now ready to assume new responsibilities as a member of the world community.

Throughout the world, the Commonwealth War Graves Commissions maintains graves and memorials to commemorate members of the Commonwealth Forces who died during the First and Second World Wars. A total of 109,980 Canadians are thus commemorated in 74 countries.

Source: Veterans Affairs Canada


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