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This is the story of the Canadian First Army that fought its way from Juno Beach at D-Day in June, 1944, through Normandy, into the Netherlands to liberate that country, to the terrible battles in the Scheldt area, and finally into Germany in 1945. This is also the story of how Canada, which had no army to speak of in 1939, raised a citizen army and turned it into one of the very best fighting armies in World War II, one which helped defeat the most implacable, desperate and battle-hardened German army over the course of 11 months in ’44 and ’45. Canada has always produced astonishingly effective soldiers, and this book is about one of their finest moments.
The argument of this book is that the Canadian army changed from an amateur force in 1939–41 into the supremely skilled and formidably equipped army by late 1944 that was able to prevail against a first-class enemy. In effect, the citizen soldiers became professionals, able to organize and plan, to move and fight, and to win against the best army the world had ever seen, the Wehrmacht.
This is the astonishing story of how Canada mobilized its men, women and industrial resources to raise a military of 1.1 million from a population of only 11 million. The army trained and learned on the job, and though the losses in killed and wounded were high, they were less than in the Great War. This is a story of courage, skill and persistence.