This is the third and final volume of the Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. The first and second volumes, dealing respectively with events in Canada, Britain and the Pacific and with the campaign in Italy, were published in 1955 and 1956. A volume dealing with military policy in the broad sense, and thus extending beyond the Army, is in preparation.
The first stage of the Historical Section’s work on the Second World War was represented by the three booklets published in 1945–46 under the series title THE CANADIAN ARMY AT WAR. The second was the Official Historical Summary, The Canadian Army 1939–1945, published in 1948. For a variety of reasons, the completion of the History proper has taken much longer than was at first planned; but it is believed that the period spent in preparation has helped to produce a better book.
A description of the principles which have been followed with respect to documentation, etc., and acknowledgements to some of the many individuals and organizations, in Canada and elsewhere, whose generous assistance has contributed to this book, will be found in the preface to Volume I, Six Years of War. A few remarks should however be made with respect to the present volume in particular. It may be noted that in some quotations from documents abbreviated forms have been written out in full, to assist the reader, without the fact being indicated. In connection with German documents, it should be observed that comparatively few of these have been available to Western military historians on levels below the headquarters of armies. For the final weeks of the campaign, almost no contemporary German documents on any level are to be had. It has therefore frequently been necessary to have recourse to reports of interrogations and to the post-war writings of German officers.
The great campaign dealt with in this volume witnessed innumerable deeds of gallantry, some of which were suitably recognized, while others, as is inevitable in some cases, were not observed or not reported. It is obviously out of the question to speak of all the well-merited awards that were made. A few are mentioned, not necessarily as being the most distinguished, but simply so that they may stand as types and examples of the hundreds of other heroic acts which must necessarily pass unnoticed here.
I am grateful to many members of the Historical Section of the General Staff for help with the volume. Lt.-Col. G. W. L. Nicholson, CD, the Deputy Director, and Lt.-Col. E. W. Cutbill, DSO, ED, CD, the Executive Officer, have given constant assistance in too many ways to enumerate. Colonel Nicholson drafted Chapters 18 and 19. Lt.-Col. T. M. Hunter, CD, wrote the first drafts of Chapters 1, 4, 13, 14, 17, and 20–23. Captain John Porter drafted Chapter 3, and Major D. J. Goodspeed Chapter 24. To these
gentlemen I offer my best thanks. They should not however be held responsible for the content of the chapters as now printed; for all of these have been considerably revised, for better or for worse, by the present writer, who also drafted the remaining eleven chapters. Other members of the Section staff who have made direct and distinguished contributions to the work are Major C. C. J. Bond, under whose most intelligent direction the maps were produced; Mr. A. G. Steiger, whose assistance in connection with the German sources was more valuable than words can express; Captain L. R. Cameron and Captain
A. L. Disher, CD, who successively gave the author inestimable help as research assistants; Staff-Sergeant R. C. Wellstood, CD, and Sergeant A. A. Azar, who did sterling work in checking quotations and references and preparing the index; and QMS (WO2) M. R. Lemay, CD, who typed the successive drafts of this volume with the same cheerful and indefatigable efficiency which is acknowledged in Volume I. Other members of the staff have placed me under less direct but still important obligations. In writing a single volume devoted to so considerable an enterprise as the Canadian Army’s participation in the North-West Europe campaign, and addressed primarily to the general reader, it has been necessary to be selective. Much detail which might appropriately have found a place in the story has had to be excluded, and in particular many technical and special matters have had to be left to corps and regimental historians. Those readers who discover errors or important omissions in the volume are asked to communicate with the Director Historical Section, Army Headquarters, Ottawa, Canada.