1945 > History

Photo of RCA, 1944.

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. Canadians took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in June 1940. On 19 August 1942, Canadian troops, including the 2nd Divisional Artillery, participated in the failed Dieppe Raid.

The Field Artillery started with the 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.

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, France. Juno was one of the five breaches in the Normandy landings.

Canadians continued the breakout through the Falaise Gap and the drive 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. They concentrated their fire on enemy targets. 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 forty-five thousand service members, including over two thousand Gunners.


The Korean War 1950-1953

On 25 June 1950, the North Korean Army invaded South Korea. The UN organized a multinational police force to defend South Korea.

On 7 August 1950, the Canadian government authorized sending Canadian soldiers, including 2 RCHA. A train carrying 2 RCHA Gunners met with tragedy on 21 November 1950. Seventeen soldiers died in the Canoe River Disaster.

Canadian army units fought well at Kapyong and other battles. Naval units also played an important role. In May 1952, 1 RCHA replaced 2 RCHA in South Korea. The 81st Field Regiment, RCA, later named 4 RCHA, took over for 1 RCHA in April 1953. On 27 July 1953, the war came to a halt with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement.

Over 25,500 Canadians served in the Korean theatre by the time of the armistice. A total of 516 Canadians lost their lives.