Air Force - Used generically to mean the
military air resources of a nation. Also a very large air
formation made up of two or more groups, as in the British
2nd Tactical Air Force that supported the Allied armies that
liberated north-west Europe in 1944-5. Canada contributed
some fifteen fighter squadrons under six Canadian 'wing'
headquarters that made up over a third of the combat strength
of the 2nd Tactical Air Force.
Airborne - In the Second World War
airborne army forces were either parachutists or glider-landed
Allies - The nations allied againsts
the Axis powers during the Second World War. Britain, the
Soviet Union, the United States, France, China, Canada and Australia were the principal Allies.
Army - Used generically to mean a
nation's land forces. Also a very large formation made up
of two or more army corps, as in 1st Canadian Army, which at
its peak strength in 1944-5 included about 160,000 personnel.
Axis - The alliance of Germany and Italy
in 1936, later including Japan and the other nations which
opposed the Allies in the Second World War.
Battalion - Basic combat unit of the
army. A Canadian infantry battalion included four rifle
companies and a support company, which was equipped with
heavier weapons; the total strength was approximately 850
Battery - A company-sized sub-unit of
artillery, whose major equipment was usually eight artillery
pieces. The most common artillery weapon was the 25-pounder,
which fired an explosive eleven-kilogramme shell to a range of
about ten kilometres. Two or more batteries made up an
BCATP - British Commonwealth Air
Blitzkrieg or Blitz - A German
expression, borrowed by the English-speaking Allied nations,
whose translation is "Lightning War." The term characterized
rapid thrusts by tank and truck-carried infantry forces
closely supported by bomber and fighter aircraft that gained
Hitler his early victories. Shortened to "blitz" it came to
mean the German day and night bomber attacks against London
in 1940 and after.
Brigade - An army formation of two or
more battalions (or regiments in the case of armoured
brigades), of up to five thousand men. The Canadian Army had
both infantry and armoured (ie., tank) brigades.
Commandos - Specially-trained British and
Canadian shock troops who were landed from the sea on the
Company - An army sub-unit. Canadian Army infantry
companies had about one hundred and twenty soldiers.
Corps - An army formation made up of
two or more divisions. Also the collective name for units of
a similar type, as in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps,
whose many units provided transport, catering and other basic
support services to the army.
D-Day - The Allied landings on the beaches of
Normandy in France on 6 June 1944. Also, the code name for the secret date
for the launching of a military operation.
Demobilization - To disband military
units, dispose of their equipment and return their personnel
to civilian life, most notably after the end of a war.
Division - An army formation made up of
two or more brigades, usually fifteen thousand or more men.
The Canadian Army had both infantry and armoured (ie, tank)
Gestapo - The internal security police
of Nazi Germany.
Group - A large air force formation
usually composed of four or more squadrons and the bases
from which they operated. The largest Canadian group was
Number 6 (RCAF) Group, of the British Bomber Command. By
1945 Number 6 (RCAF) Group included fourteen squadrons that
operated nearly three-hundred heavy four-engine bombers from
ten bases in northern England.
Luftwaffe - German Air Force
NRMA - National Resources Mobilization
Act. The Canadian legislation, passed by Parliament in 1940,
that enabled the government to call up men for compulsory
RAF - Royal Air Force (Great Britain)
RCAF - Royal Canadian Air Force
RCN - Royal Canadian Navy
Repatriation - Returning someone to his
or her country of origin, such as the return of Canadian
military personnel from Europe to Canada.
SS - Schutzstaffel, a German expression
that literally means "defence echelon." It was the military
wing of the Nazi party, which served as Hitler's personal
bodyguard and provided guards for concentration camps. The
SS also raised élite combat formations for the field
Squadron - The basic unit of the air
force, usually of ten to eighteen aircraft.
Theatre - A large geographic area in
which military operations were coordinated, eg. - the North
Tickertape - The long paper strip
produced by a telegraph machine. This material was customarily
thrown from windows to greet celebrities.
U-Boat - Short for Unterseeboot, a
VE Day - Victory in Europe Day,
celebrated on 8 May 1945, which marked the capitulation of
Germany to the Allied powers.
Vichy - A city in central France, the
capital of unoccupied France, 1940-1942, and, by extension,
the political regime led by Marshal Pétain, which
ruled France from Vichy after the French defeat in 1940.
Wing - An air force formation made up of
two or more squadrons