In May 1945, the residents of Bay Bulls (and later, St. John’s), Newfoundland witnessed as a German submarine entered the harbour. The boat was U-190, and its crew had surrendered to vessels of the Royal Canadian Navy days before. Back on 16 April 1945, U-190 had torpedoed and sank HMCS Esquimalt, the last Canadian warship lost during the Second World War. Now, the U-boat flew under the White Ensign instead of the Nazi swastika and a Canadian naval officer had the command.
Just as May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and Victory in Europe, it also marks the end of the Battle of the Atlantic. For nearly six long years, Canadian airmen and naval and merchant sailors kept supply lines across the Atlantic Ocean open despite the German U-boat (submarine) menace. Historian Marc Milner joins us to explore what some call “Canada’s longest battle”. He argues that Canada’s economic and military efforts in the Battle of the Atlantic were our most important contributions to victory in the Second World War.
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3:55 Defining the Battle of the Atlantic
7:45 Expanding the Royal Canadian Navy
12:40 Defeating the U-boat Threat
16:13 Innovating Technology and Tactics
22:30 Canada’s Economic Impact
27:34 The U-boats on D-Day
30:25 The End of the Battle of the Atlantic
33:50 V-E Day in Halifax
37:55 Canada’s Battle of the Atlantic Legacy
Marc Milner is one of Canada’s leading naval and military historians. After completing his doctoral dissertation on the Royal Canadian Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic, he worked for the Department of National Defence on the official histories of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy. More recently, Professor Milner’s research at the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick focuses on Canada’s Battle of Normandy. We interviewed him for our very first podcast episode, Stopping the Panzers with Marc Milner, based on his 2014 book of the same title.
The following links offer more information on the topics discussed in this episode:
Juno Beach & Beyond is hosted and edited by Alex Fitzgerald-Black, the Juno Beach Centre Association’s Operations and Outreach Manager.
Mackenzie King’s speech to British Parliament from the British Pathé YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SlEvclY5LE&t=48s
Artillery firing sounds from the CBC News: The National YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsCSQ4uWR1Y
Female veteran’s voice (Eileen Green, née Short) Courtesy of The Memory Project, Historica Canada: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/383:eileen-green-nee-short/
Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech from Jonathan Thomas’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB5wZtV1MWM
Spitfire sound effect from Jason Kirby’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgZI4tAoMN0
Dramatic Interlude by Alexander Nakarada | https://www.serpentsoundstudios.com
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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