The Second World War 1939-1945

During six years of war, Canada enlisted over one million personnel in the Canadian Forces.  In Europe, Canada had five divisional artilleries, two corps artilleries and two army artillery groups.  Each of these large units had multiple artillery regiments attached.

In early 1940, Canada's primary role became the defence of the British Isles.  The 1st Field Regiment, RCHA, was the only Allied unit to withdraw from France with its guns intact.  On 19 August 1942, Canadian troops, including the 2nd Divisional Artillery, participated in the failed Dieppe Raid.

The Field Artillery started with 18/25 Pounders, then used 25 Pounders and self-propelled 25 Pounder Sextons.  The Medium Artillery started with 6-Inch Howitzers, then used 4.5-Inch Howitzers or 5.5-Inch Howitzers.  Anti-tank, anti-aircraft and rocket units employed specialized weapons, and Artillery officers flew light aircraft as spotters.

The Canadians went to Sicily in July 1943 and mainland Italy in September 1943.  By the spring of 1945, Canadians had helped liberate Italy from the German Army.

On 6 June 1944, the Canadian 3rd Division landed on Juno Beach in France.  Juno was one of the five beaches in the Normandy landings.

Canadians continued the breakout through Caen to close the Falaise Gap and then up the Channel Coast.  Next came the push through Belgium to the Scheldt, Netherlands' liberation, and the Battle of the Rhineland.

During these campaigns, the Canadian Artillery executed hundreds of barrages.  Fire plans supported the Canadian and Allied advance.  Hundreds of guns from different regiments could fire on one location.

By mid-April 1945, the 1st Canadian Army had driven the Germans from Holland.  On 25 April, the Americans and Russians met on the Elbe River, and on 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered.  The Pacific War ended three months later with the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945.

Canada lost over 45,000 service members, including over 2,000 Gunners.