The Canadian Army in Northwest Europe was the largest field force ever assembled by Canada. Between late summer 1944 and spring 1945, Canadian troops liberated great swaths of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. They also joined with other Allied troops in the invasion of Nazi Germany from the west. Casualties were heavy, and the military managed a sophisticated system for keeping units up to strength in both soldiers and equipment.
There is an old saying in the military community: “Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” Today’s guest, Arthur Gullachsen, joins us to explore how the First Canadian Army was kept up to strength. We discuss the personnel reinforcement system, the reinforcement crisis in late summer 1944, and the impacts of these on the troops themselves. We also explore the Canadian supply system as it relates to tanks and other vehicles, comparing both the personnel and equipment systems to their poorer German counterparts. The Canadian Army’s ability to reinforce was one of its outstanding strengths in the Second World War.
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3:25 The Cost of Battles
4:40 Reinforcement System
7:57 Reinforcement Crisis
18:30 The New Arrivals
22:24 Supplying Equipment
29:10 Compassionate Attrition
32:41 German Logistics
36:51 Brute Force?
43:10 Teaching at Royal Military College
Captain Arthur Gullachsen, PhD is a member of the History Department at the Royal Military College of Canada. His research focuses on the study of the replacement of Canadian equipment and personnel losses as well as German armoured forces towards the end of the Second World War. His book, An Army of Never-Ending Strength: Reinforcing the Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944-45 is available from UBC Press.
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 centre’s Digital Projects Coordinator.
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)
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.