Juno Beach Centre | Canada in WWII
   Arms & Weapons
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On Land
 

 Infantry
 Armoured Fighting Vehicles
 Artillery
 Supplying Canada's Field Army Overseas
 Royal Canadian Engineers
 The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
 The Canadian Women’s Army Corps

In September 1939, the Canadian government still expected to send only a small number of ground troops overseas. But the speed at which the situation evolves and the violence of the conflict rapidly overturn these plans and Canada has but one choice: to get involved with all her resources, human and material, in the Allies' war effort. The Canadian Army gets ready to fight.

It took almost three years, from September 1939 to August 1942 before ground troops could take part in major operations against the enemy. Three years of waiting, three years of training and preparations during which the Canadian Army created modern combat units and increased its strength up to over 400,000 men and women.

From July 1943, the Canadian Army makes an outstanding contribution, fighting the decisive battles of WWII side by side with other Allies: in Sicily, in Italy, on D-Day, and during its march through Northwestern Europe until Germany's final surrender. For the first time in history Canada sends to the defence of democracy and freedom an army placed under Canadian command and flying the Canadian flag.

Infantry

In general, the infantry’s role is to close with and destroy enemy ground forces. Other combat arms, be they artillery, armour, engineers, exist largely to facilitate the achievement by the infantry of its basic aim in battle: the destruction of the enemy. Learn More

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

Artillery

British doctrine called for tanks used in various roles: light tanks used for reconnaissance, infantry tanks such as the Churchill, which were relatively slow and heavily armoured, as well as faster, more lightly-armoured “cruisers” or medium tanks which favoured mobility over power, of which the Sherman was an example. Learn More

 

Artillery operated according to two basic methods: direct and indirect fire. Direct fire was directed over open sights against a target clearly visible from the gun. This method was most common with tank and anti-tank guns, where fire had to be aimed to be effective, and could be hazardous as the gun (and its crew) was itself exposed to enemy fire. Indirect fire called for a forward observer, in communication with the guns by telephone or radio, to correct the fall of shot. Learn More

Supplying Canada's Field Army Overseas

Royal Canadian Engineers

“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 is an essential pre-condition for any military campaign. Learn More

Imagine planning an attack as the commander of an infantry division. How would you move all the human and mechanical components of a modern army through the rubble-strewn, booby-trapped, and obstacle-ridden approaches of a Second World War battlefield without engineers? Learn More

The 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 British and German paratroopers led HQ to the conclusion that airborne troops could play a key role in defending remote areas, and even help retake positions taken by enemy paratrooper units. Learn More
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 to join the Armed Forces. Learn More