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Selected Photographs: Army

The Canadian Army

During the Second World War, over 750,000 men and women served in administrative, combat, and support units of the Canadian Army. In Canada, some personnel were tasked for home-defence duties, while others staffed 97 Army training centers. As units were mobilized in Canada, National Defence Headquarters transferred them to the United Kingdom (UK), where they became part of the Canadian Army Overseas. From 1940 to June 5, 1944, Canadian soldiers honed their skills while actively participating in the defence of the UK.

Concurrently, other Canadian units were stationed to defend Newfoundland, the Bahamas, Bermuda, British Guiana, and Jamaica. From 1940 to 1942, Canadian troops took part in operations along the Norwegian coastline, in the defence of Hong Kong in December 1941, and in the Dieppe Raid on August 19, 1942. In July 1943, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, along with British and American units, invaded Sicily. After the fall of Sicily, they went on to fight in Italy alongside the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. During this period, Canadian units in the UK continued their preparations for the imminent invasion of Europe.

On June 6, 1944, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade landed in Normandy along with other elements of the 2nd British Army. In the following days, additional units of the 2nd Canadian Corps were deployed in the Normandy bridgehead. These Canadian troops and their allies went on to liberate France. From October 1944 to May 1945, Canadian soldiers fought throughout northwestern Europe, liberating Belgium and the Netherlands. The last European campaign involved the invasion of Germany. The German forces caught between the advancing Allied and Russian forces crumbled and capitulated. The hostilities officially ceased on May 8, 1945. The Canadian Army had paid a very heavy price; it had sustained a total of 17,682 fatal battle casualities.