Canada in the Second World War

Arms & Weapons

On Land

1st Canadian Parachute Battalion

With tension in the Pacific rapidly growing throughout 1941, and with German U-boats venturing in the St. Lawrence the following year, National Defence Headquarters reviewed its response strategy in case of an enemy attack on Canadian soil. The successes of...

Continue reading

An Infantryman’s Basic Kit

British and Canadian soldiers were outfitted with countless items of equipment or “kit” in addition to the standard battle dress of khaki wool serge. Probably the most recognizable was the distinctive steel helmet, similar in shape to that worn during...

Continue reading

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Combat in the Second World War was marked by a fluidity that was absent from Great War battlefields. Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) had originally been conceived as a means to defeat the barbed-wire and machine-guns that had robbed infantry of...

Continue reading

Artillery

The artillery available to support the army fell into a variety of categories, including guns, howitzers, and mortars. Guns, so-called, fire projectiles at high velocity over relatively flat trajectories. Howitzers, in contrast, usually fire larger projectiles at lower velocity and...

Continue reading

Basic Infantry Tactics

The Attack In action an infantry battalion commander, for example, would receive orders from his brigade commander to carry out an assignment. To carry it out he would formulate a plan based on his specific task and reconnaissance of the...

Continue reading

Infantry Organization

The battalion is “the smallest infantry organization that can arrange for a concentration of support weapons of different kinds” (War Office training manual, 15 January 1944), and is usually grouped with other units such as armoured regiments or other infantry...

Continue reading

Infantry Weapons

The Lee-Enfield rifle and Bren light machine-gun (LMG) were the basic Canadian infantry weapons, but fire-power was supplemented by grenades, semi-automatic rifles (also called machine carbines) like the Sten gun, mortars, Vickers medium machine-guns, anti-tank weapons such as the 6-pounder and PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank), and light anti-aircraft guns. Air power,...

Continue reading

Radio Communications

Signals units operated wireless and telephone equipment to allow the various parts of the army to communicate with each other in the field. Divisional signals units contained three or four companies/squadrons, depending on the type of division, with a total...

Continue reading

Royal Canadian Engineers

Imagine planning an attack as the commander of an infantry division who must assign objectives on the battlefield to his brigade commanders and coordinate support from artillery and the air force, as well as arrange for the provision of supplies...

Continue reading

Supplying Canada’s Field Army Overseas

“An army cannot fight unless it is fed, regularly.” This self-evident concept is usually taken for granted but the provision of “food, ammunition, and other essential supplies to an army at the times and places, and in the quantities required”...

Continue reading

The Canadian Women’s Army Corps

The creation of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in 1941 was the result of two factors: the realization that the Army would sooner or later need more workers; and the pressure exerted on the federal government by Canadian women, eager...

Continue reading