The Second World War began in September 1st 1939 after Germany invaded Poland (Bercuson 152). As a result Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Canada which had been an ally of Britain was also not left behind. Seven days after the German invasion, her parliament also declared war on Germany, the first war the country had ever participated in after becoming an independent state (Byers 12). This marked the beginning of Canada involvement in the most brutal war ever recorded in history. This paper will analyze critically the essential involvement of Canada in the Second World War as an ally of Britain.
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was an agreement signed between Australia, UK, Canada and New Zealand in 17th December 1939 (Hatch & Hillmer, 2007). The programme was one of the key contributions of Canada to the victory of the allies in the Second World War. It was referred to as the “Aerodrome of Democracy” by President Roosevelt of USA and was conducted until 31st March 1945. Canada provided a good atmosphere for the programme since it had a large air training space far from the enemy (the Germans), excellent climatic conditions, immediate access to the US industry and its close proximity to the UK via the North Atlantic shipping lanes.
Having being a major training and recruitment ground for the British in world war one, the British government hoped that the same relationship with would continue during the Second World War. However, negotiating this deal was difficult. In the end Canada agreed to meet all the financial costs for the plan but insisted that Britain would agree that the air training programme would take priority over all other aspects of the Canadian efforts during the war. The training programme begun in April 1949 and it was a success having a total of 131,553 graduates constituting of pilots, navigators, bombers, and flight engineers who participated actively during the war that saw the fall of Germany (Hatch & Hillmer, 2007).
The Merchant Navy
Another Canadian contribution towards the victory of the allies during the Second World War was its merchant navy. From a humble beginning in 1939 the merchant navy of Canada grew rapidly in size and number. The navy faced fierce confrontations from the Germans and their U-boats who had taken control of the sea between North America and the United Kingdom making the transportation of food, machinery and other necessary equipments for the allies from North America to Europe to become a dangerous exercise. The Canadian navy suffered heavy losses by losing the lives of 1,500 sailors while 198 were captured and became prisoners (Ridler 11). This was because the nation was not prepared for modern warfare, sea included. They were using outdated ships and the crew was poorly trained.
In response, the Canada increased the number of recruits in the army. The...