World War II Timeline
Between 1939 – 1945, 1,000,000 Canadian men and women from a total population of about 12 million would serve in what would become the Second Great War of the twentieth century.
The longest battle of the Second World War, the Battle of the Atlantic was fought primarily by the Navy, beginning on 3 September 1939 it would continue without interruption until 8 May 1945. During that period the Royal Canadian Navy would loose 24 warships,2,024 lives lost and 319 wounded, mostly in the North Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Besides the RCN losses the Canadian merchant marine would loose 70 ships sunk with 319 lives lost.
The beginning of the “Phony War”.
The passenger liner S.S. Athenia is torpedoed, killing 118, the first Canadian of the war,
Stewardess Hannah Baird of Quebec, was one of the 118.
The Essex Scottish (it became the Essex Scottish Highlanders in 1927) were mobilized as the 1st Bn. Essex Scottish.September 3rd, 1939
Suffers 126,000 killed and 300,000 wounded by March of 1940 when a peace treaty is signed with the Finns.November 30th, 1939
The ‘first flight’ of the main body of Canadian troops arrive in Scotland. The 1st Division sailed on the ships: Aquitania, Empress of Britain, Empress of Australia, Duchess of Bedford and the Monarch of Bermuda. In total 7500 Canadian troops landed.December 17th, 1939
Hitler invades Norway and Denmark.April 9th, 1940
Battle of France begins.May 10th, 1940
The RAF begins ‘strategic bombing’ of German targets.May 15th, 1940
HMCS Skeena, Restigouche, St. Laurient sail for England; HMCS Fraser departed from Bermuda.May 24th, 1940
The evacuation of the BEF at Dunkirk begins the evacuation is completed on 4 June. 354,628 British and French soldiers evacuated from the French beaches leaving all of their equipment behind.May 25th, 1940
Canadian troops had reached the outskirts of LaMans in France in the “Forlorn Hope” of stemming the German advance through France when they were recalled. Commanded by Brigadier A. A. Smith all but 6 Canadians that were MIA returned to Britain.June 13th - 14th, 1940
The French leader Marshal Petain accepts the German occupation and the puppet state of “Vichy” is established.June 21st, 1940
AS. Arthur Robert SAUNDERS. V41047, HMCS Fraser. LAS. From Tilbury.June 25th, 1940
375 German fighter and bombers begin attacks.July 8th, 1940
The Essex Scottish embark on the E53 at Halifax.July 16th, 1940
The Essex Scottish disembark at Gourock, Scotland.August 2nd, 1940
Would continue as “Adlerangriff” until the 24th of August. RAF destroys 185 German aircraft and loose only 25 of their planes.August 12th, 1940
The Essex Scottish’s C-Coy. Help fight fires at Puttenham.August 26th, 1940
German’s bomb London, England during the next four months of the ‘Blitz’, 22,000 civilians would be killed and another 20,000 in 1941. Hitler had ordered the Luftwaffe to switch their attacks from bombing RAF stations and aircraft manufacturing plants and to focus on bombing London.September 7th, 1940
The German air force loses 56 aircraft and 136 men to the RAF’s 29 aircraft and 12 pilots KIA. Hitler ends his plan to invade EnglandSeptember 15th, 1940
The troopship sank in four minutes, 100 miles North West of the Donegal coast of Ireland, taking 84 of the 290 aboard to their deaths. This was the only troopship to loose Canadian troops en route to the United Kingdom in WWII which would total 500,000 by the war’s end.April 30th, 1941
HMCS WINDFLOWER (Corvette) Sunk, 23 lives lost. In collision with the Dutch freighter ‘Zyphenberg’ in heavy fog.December 7th, 1941
11 Dec. they reinforce the ‘Gin Drinker Line on Chinese mainland. CSM. John Osborn is KIA, throwing himself on a Japanese grenade, he would be Canada’s 1st Victoria Cross winner in WWII.December 8th - 10th, 1941
The German U-Boat force begins “Paukenschlag” (Drumbeat) the attack on US merchant ships on the east coast of the United States resulting in the loss of 609 Allied ships by mid-March.December 13th, 1941
Of the force of 2,000 who sailed from Vancouver to Hong Kong 290 were Killed, 493 wounded
4 shot trying to escape, 50 died of diphtheria and 267 died in captivity making 611 fatalities in the defense of Hong Kong. Commonwealth losses defending Hong Kong 11,848 (including civilians). Japanese lose 675 killed and 2,o79 wounded.December 25th, 1941
The introduction of the four-rotor encryption (replacing the 3 rotor) code which had been broken by the Bletchey Park code-breakers left the Royal Navy ‘blind’ to the operations of the German U-Boats until December of 1942, almost costing the Allies WWII. During that time the Germans sank 7.1 million tons of cargo. To the U-boats this was the 2nd “Happy Time”.February 1st, 1942
L/Str. Stuart GALBRAITH, LAS (HMCS SPIKENARD) – From Blenheim.February 10th, 1942
P/O(OB) Maldwyn Wyn WILLIAMS. J7204, 103 Sqd. RAF. KIA. From Merlin.May 20th, 1942
Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (Wrens) was established. (6,781 would enlist during the war.
Ldr. Norville Small, No. 10 Sqd. Eastern Air Command flying in a Lockheed Hudson aircraft sank U-754 Canada’s 1st submarine kill by aircraft.July 31st, 1942
P/O. Charles Stephen LENOVER. J15980, 156 Sqd. (RAF) From Chatham.
Flt. Sgt. Stanley Raymond LUPTON. R63733, 102 Sqd. KIA. From Chatham.
August 6th, 1942
At 04:50 4,963 men from six infantry battalions of the 2nd Canadian Division, the 14th Calgary Tank Regt and 1,07 British commandos plus 50 American Rangers made five landing along a 10 mile front at the French costal town of Dieppe.
4,963 Canadians embarked for the raid on Dieppe 2110 returned (1946 casualties were taken as POW’s and 907 fatalities)August 19th, 1942
Pte. Victor George ERREY. A3762, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Wallaceburg.
L/Cpl. Joseph Augustine FOSTER. A21704, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Wallaceburg.
L/Cpl. Alfred H. HALL. A19167, Royal Cdn. Engineers, KIA. From Ridgetown.
Sgt. Andrew LENNOX. A21576, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Coatsworth.
Pte. Edwin Thomas MILLEN. B67723, Royal Cdn. Regt. KIA. From Chatham.
Pte. Charles Leslie MORLEY. A21174, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Bothwell.
Pte. Vendel REIDL. A22905, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Wallaceburg.
Pte. James William STEERS. A22205, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Chatham.
Sgt. William Gordon TAYLOR. A21888, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Chatham.
Pte. Ronald Kenrick TOWLE. A22345, Essex Scottish Regt. KIA. From Wheatley.
4,963 men embarked for the raid on Dieppe, 2,211 returned of those 589 were wounded in action of which 28 would die of wounds. 1,946 men were taken as POW of which 568 were wounded in action (71 would die of their wound in captivity, 836 were KIA on the day of the raid.
[Taken from “The Necessary War Vol. 1 – Tim Cook author]August 19th, 1942
Flt. Sgt. Harry Raebum WATSON. R98140, 83 Sqd. RAF. KIA. From ChathamSeptember 11th, 1942
Flt. Sgt. Charles Edwin STUART. R68329, 418 Sqd. KIA. From Wallaceburg.September 17th, 1942
March to July the RAF/RCAF would begin a campaign to bomb the major cities of the Ruhr River valley, such as Essen, Duisburg, Bochum and other industrial cities in the area, which included the cities of Essen, Duisburg and Bachum and others, RAF/RCAF crew referred to these targets as “Happy Valley”. Six C-K crew members would be lost between the 2nd of March and 4 July.February 23rd, 1943
Sgt. John BULLER, A240, 1St. Hussars, DOAI. From Ridgetown.May 30th, 1943
The largest tank battle of WWII begins between the German and Russian forces at Kursk.
“Slow Convoy on route to Sicily was attacked by German submarines 90 miles west of Algiers the ships “City of Venice”, “St. Essylt” and the transport ship “Davis” were sunk, 58 aboard the ships perished also 500 vehicles and 40 guns were lost.July 4th, 1943
The conquest of Sicily would take 38 days during which the Canadian forces would see 562 fatalities, 1,644 wounded and 84 taken prisoner.July 10th - August 18th, 1943
Pte. James Milford BUTLER, A50103, RCR. DOW. – Chatham.July 10th, 1943
Marine R. S. H. SUTTON. PO/X2971, Royal Marines. DOAS. – Chatham.July 22nd - 26th, 1943
Pte. Steve SLAVIK, A49734, Royal Cdn. Regt. KIA. – Chatham.
Pte. Blake Reginald SLOAN, A117816, Algonquin Regt. KIA, – Chatham Twsp.
Pte. George Nelson TOWART. A49992, Royal Cdn. Regt. KIA. – Chatham.
July 24th, 1943
Pte. Armand Joseph NADEAU. A50168. RCR. KIA. – Wallaceburg.July 25th, 1943
F/O(N) Charles Austin WRIGHT. J21828, 419 Sqd. KIA. From Chatham.August 10th, 1943
Operation Husky resulted in 2,434 casualties (173 officers and 2,261 other ranks) of these 38 officers and 447 other ranks were killed or died of wounds including 12 Nursing Sisters, 84 troops were taken as POW’s. German losses 29,000 (22,000 KIA or WIA) the remainder were POW’s. Italian losses 147,000 KIA/WIA/POW.
The German successfully moved 39,951 troops, 94 guns, 47 tanks, 9,605 vehicles, 17,000 tons of materials and 62,000 Italian troops across the Straits of Messina to mainland Italy in 15 days.
F/O M. I. FRALEIGH. J9388, 181 Sqd. (RAF). KIA. From Wallaceburg.August 18th, 1943
The conquest had taken 38 days during which the Canadian forces had suffered 562 killed, 1644 wounded and 84 taken prisoner.August 23rd, 1943
On 3 September, 1943 the 1st Canadian Division (part of the British 8th Army) and the 1st Canadian Tank Brigade invaded Italy across the Straits of Messina and captures Reggio
Di Calabria, landing at 04:30 hrs. British and Canadian troops ate first to set foot on Nazi-occupied Europe. Italian’s Surrender is signed.September 3rd - December 28th, 1943
HMCS St CROIX (Destroyer) Sunk, 148 lives lost.
Canadian troops capture Potenza. 2,000 Italian civilians were killed by Allied bombings of the town.September 20th, 1943
Cpl. D. M. CUMMINGS. A4266, RCR. KIA. From Duart.September 24th, 1943
P/O. Albert McKenzie RUTHVEN. J23615, RCAF. DOAA. From Chatham.October 1st, 1943
Flt. Sgt. (BA) Donald Harvey McKITTERICK. R156063, 90 Sqd. (RAF) KIA. From Tilbury.
P/O Randolph Charles SMITH. J16175, 112 Sqd. RAF. KIA. From Merlin.October 3rd, 1943
Monte Ingotto.October 4th, 1943
Cpl. Robert A. BLACKBURN, A9312, R.C.A.S.C. KIA. From Dresden, ON.
Tpr. Beverly B. LENNOX. A58603, 4th Princess Louise Dragoons, KIA.October 6th, 1943
Pte. Edmund Alfred JEWISS. A59173, Carleton & York Regt. KIA. From Chatham.
Pte. Vernon W. TOOMER. B133834, Seaforth Highlanders. KIA. From Merlin.October 7th, 1943
Captured by the Canadians.December 6th - 9th, 1943
Attacked by Royal Can. Regt., Hastings & Prince Edward Regt. and 48th Highlanders, supported by the DAF Kittyhawk aircraft.December 8th, 1943
Pte. Albert LAUWEREYS. A17318, Royal Cdn. Regt. DOW. – From Wallaceburg.December 12th, 1943
Captain Robert Alexander DONALD. RCA. KIA. From Bothwell.December 14th, 1943
Pte. George Osborne EMBURY. A50336, RCR. KIA. From Blenheim.December 20th, 1943
Pte. Douglas Leonard SMITH. A105198, Hastings & Pr. Edward Regt. KIA. From Wallaceburg.December 23rd, 1943
The three week battle for Ortona accounted for 3,956 of the 9,934 casualties till then. The 2nd Cdn. Infantry Brigade would suffer 275 casualties just at Ortono (104 of them KIA), there were some 1,617 to sick to fight and 587 suffered ‘Battle Fatigue’. The German 3rd Parachute Regt. would have 100 KIA.
December 28th, 1943
The cost of battle for the Canadians in Italy for the month of December was 164 and 2,101 other ranks becoming casualties of which 36 officers and 448 were fatalities, primarily in the infantry. (“From Pachino to Ortona 1943 – Ministry of National Defence”).December 30/31, 1943
Although the Anzio landings (generally unopposed) were primarily the U.S 6 th Corps show Canadians were there as part of First Special Service Force, a combined American-Canadian ‘special force’, known to the Germans as the “Black Devils” due to their ability to fight at night. The FSSF numbered 1,250 of which 800 were Canadian,117 of these troops were lost at Anzio.Jan 22-23
May 11-13: Crossing the Gari River secured. Part of the objectives of Operation “DIADEM” to take Cassino and break the German’s “Gustav’s Line” begins.
May 11: Cdn. Armour supports Allied attacks on the Gustav (Operation DIADEM) line and Monte Cassino.
May 13: St. Angelo in Teodice.
May 13: P/O(AG) James Howard JONES. J90284 / R197301, 426 Sqd. KIA. From Ridgetown.May 11th, 1944
The Canadians would suffer between 15 May and 4 June 789 killed, 2463 wounded and 116 POWs.June 4th, 1944
On the night of June 5/6, 1944 the invasion of Normandy D-Day began with the dropping of 20,000 paratroopers, of which the 1 st Canadian Parachute Battalion was part. At dawn on the 6th of June the main invasion force made up of the 1st United States Army would land on “Omaha” and “Utah” beach. Two Second British Army divisions, one being the Third Canadian Infantry Division supported by the 3rd Canadian Armoured Brigade wound land on “Sword” and “Gold” for the British and “Juno” beach for the Canadian landing. “Juno” beach would cover the area between Courselles and St. Aubin-sur- Mer. “Juno” beach would be further divided into two areas, “Mike” beach would cover the villages of Courseulles-sur- Mer, Bernieres-su- Mer and the western outskirts of St. Aubin-sur-Mer. “Nan” beach to the west of “Mike” the hamlet of Vaux and the village of Graye-sur- Mer a quarter mile inland.
By the end of the day 14,000 Canadians had stormed ashore at “Juno” beach, suffering 1,074 casualties of which 359 were fatal, 47 had become POWs.
Only one Victoria Cross was awarded for D-Day to CSM Stanley Hollis of the Green Howards British Army. Between D-Day and D+12 the Americans awarded 10 Congressional Medals of Honour.Jun 6 - Aug 20
Captain James Morley ANKCORN, with RCR. From Ridgetown.
VaravilleJune 6th, 1944
Sgt. Marshall William CARD. R78597, No. 127 Wing, LAS. From Bothwell.June 7th, 1944
Pte. Robert William BRYDGES, A56945, Cameron Highlanders. KIA. From Chatham.
Tpr. Arnold STONEFISH. A116070, B.C. Dragoons Regt. Homicide. From Thamesville.Jun 8-9
L/Cpl. William Herbert REEVE. A49525. Highland Light Inf. KIA. From Chatham.
Pte. Ronald Bruce RICHARDS. A50343, Highland Light Inf., KIA. From Wallaceburg.
Pte. William Thomas THATCHER. B52033, Highland Light Inf. KIA. From Chatham.July 8th, 1944
Caen had been captured but the battle had cost Canadian forces 330 dead and 864 wounded more than the landing on D-Day. The Normandy fighting was creating casualties at a pace exceeding that of Passchendale in the Great War.July 10th, 1944
Gnr. Lawrence Orlo BROOKS, A116428, RCR. KIA. Fom Chatham.
Flt. Lieut. Beverly Wayne PRITCHARD. J7746. 407 Sqd. DOAA. From Chatham.
Gdsmn. Robert George PUTTOCK. A102937. 22nd Armoured Regt. KIA. From Ridgetown.August 8th, 1944
Pte. Donald Wellington CHIPPEWA, A104477, Algonquin Regt. KIA.
Pte. David Gordon, GAWNE. A61040, Algonquin Regt., KIA. From Mull.
Gnr. Zephyr Hector KING. A102045, Royal Cdn. Artillery, KIA. From Tilbury.
The battle for Florence ends.August 10-11, 1944
3rd Canadian Infantry Division are bombed by “friendly forces” near Cintheaux and St.
Sylvan.August 12th, 1944
Operation “DRAGOON”, The invasion of Southern France begins on the 15th of August led by the US 8th Army.August 14-17, 1944
By the 2nd of September the Gothic Line would be shattered. But the cost to do so would be heavy: 219 Canadian soldiers would be dead and another 519 wounded.August 25, 1944 - September 2, 1944
By the end of August 1944 19,269 Canadian servicemen had married English women since 1940 as follows.
1940 – 1222
1941 – 3011
1942 – 4160
1943 – 5879
1944 – 4997
19,269August 31st, 1944
The allied offensive, minus the Canadian troops begins on the Senio River in Italy.
Attack on the Hitler Line. 1st Cdn. Corps breaks the line and advances up the Liri Valley. Breaking the Hitler Line will cost the 2nd Cdn. Brigade 543 casualties of the 879 for the entire Cdn. Division.
Pte. Lorne Wayne ANKCORN. A28763, KIA with RCR.
L/Cpl. Carson James STEELE. A104685, Loyal Edmonton Regt. KIA. From Dresden.May 23rd, 2016