In February 1945, the First Canadian Army began its largest battle of the Second World War. Canadian, British, Belgian, Dutch, and American forces struck into the Rhineland, gateway to the Ruhr, Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland. With nearly a half-million Canadian and Allied troops under his command, General Harry Crerar commanded the largest military force ever assembled under a Canadian general.
The Battle of the Rhineland, characterized by flooded terrain, muddy roads, cold and damp winter weather, and sometimes fanatical German resistance, lasted a month. Canadian troops suffered 5,300 killed, wounded, and missing before Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s forces crossed the Rhine in mid-March 1945. Here Canadian paratroopers participated in their final and most successful combat drop of the war. In less than a month three Canadian soldiers earned the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth’s highest award for valour in combat.
This is a special crossover episode of Juno Beach and Beyond, co-produced with Cool Canadian History, a bi-weekly Canadian history podcast exploring all the wild, wacky, weird and wonderful stories that make up the history of the great nation of Canada.
All proceeds support the Juno Beach Centre, Canada’s Second World War Museum in Normandy, France and allow us to continue to offer this content for free!
Borys David Borys is a Canadian military historian at Langara College in Vancouver, BC who specializes in the Canadian war experience in the 20th century. His first book, set to be released in 2021, is a groundbreaking examination of Fist Canadian Army Civil Affairs in northwest Europe from 1944-1945. He is the writer, producer and host of the popular Canadian history podcast Cool Canadian History and has been seen on such television programs as APTN’s Nations at War and National Geographic’s Hitler’s Last Stand.
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.
Kickin in the Door: Canada Invades Nazi Germany is written by Alex Fitzgerald-Black and read by David Borys, the host of Cool Canadian History.
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 email@example.com.