On this day in 1945, “Canadian troops move into Amsterdam on VE-Day, as the unconditional surrender of Germany, signed at Rheims on May 7, is ratified at Berlin; World War II ends in Europe with the unconditional surrender of German land, sea and air forces. Amsterdam, Netherlands (CBC Archives)”
Victory in Europe (VE-Day) Remembered
“Victory in Europe, on 8 May 1945, was a great celebration — for those who had suffered through Nazi occupation, and those who had liberated them.
Victory in Europe, on 8 May 1945, was a great celebration — for those who had suffered through Nazi occupation, and those who had liberated them. For Canadians, the VE-Day anniversary offers a chance to remember this country’s huge contribution and sacrifice in the Second World War.
Canadian forces played a decisive part in virtually every phase of the war against Nazi Germany and Italy, its fascist ally. The first step was to secure merchant shipping in the Atlantic against the German submarine fleet. The cargoes carried by the merchant ships were essential to Britain’s survival and to build up the armed strength needed to strike back at the enemy. Canadian warships provided nearly half of the escorts for merchant ship convoys, and Canadian aircraft as much as a third of the vital air protection for the precious merchant ships. Canadian warships and aircraft destroyed 50 enemy submarines.
Canadian aircrew made up nearly a quarter of the strength of the combat commands of Britain’s Royal Air Force. These members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, half of them in 47 Canadian squadrons and half serving in a wide range of British units, were prominent in all aspects of air warfare, and especially in the bombing offensive that destroyed Germany’s cities.
Canadian Army formations stood on guard in Britain in 1940–41, when Britain’s army was shattered and a German invasion was a real possibility. From 1943 until early 1945, Canadian Army formations played a major part in the invasion of Italy and the liberation of that country from the strong German occupying forces.
The war at sea, the war in the air and the war in Italy were all preliminaries to the invasion of German occupied France, at Normandy on 6 June 1944. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division (see Juno Beach) was one of five Allied assault divisions that landed that day, the greatest amphibious invasion in history. A hundred Canadian warships carried troops, protected the invasion fleet, and provided gunfire support to the troops ashore. Hundreds of Canadian bombers and fighters hunted German submarines at sea and battered the German defences on land. In the fearsome battles of Normandy that continued until late August 1944 and resulted in the death, injury or surrender of 400,000 German troops, the First Canadian Army faced some of the fiercest opposition and suffered some of the heaviest losses of the Allied armies.
In October and November 1944, the Canadians again endured unrelenting, bitter combat, this time in appalling conditions of wet and cold. They smashed the heavily fortified German defences on the River Scheldt and thereby opened the great Belgian port of Antwerp that was the key to supplying the vast Allied liberation armies. This important Canadian victory was critical to ensure that the final Allied offensives went forward in full strength and on time in early 1945. The Canadians were a spearhead in those offensives, pushing in from February to April 1945 across fortified rivers in the Netherlands and western Germany, against an enemy that showed little sign of weakening until the very last days.”