Between Battles, Ossendrecht, Netherlands, 23 October 1944.
National Archives of Canada (PA-143923, photo by Ken Bell).

Between Battles, Ossendrecht, Netherlands, 23 October 1944.

Gunner O.R. Weisner and Lance Sergeant S.C. Mitchell wash clothes during a lull in the action.

From November 1944 until early 1945, American and British troops repelled the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge. Canadian forces were inactive during the period, but new combat duties would soon present themselves. In February 1945, the 1st Canadian Army participated in its final operations of the Second World War.

Crowd Welcoming Canadian Soldiers, Leeuwarden, Netherlands, 16 April 1945.
National Archives of Canada (PA-131566, photo by Donald I. Grant).

Crowd Welcoming Canadian Soldiers, Leeuwarden, Netherlands, 16 April 1945.

The Dutch were ecstatic after the liberation of their country. They have never forgotten the efforts and sacrifices of Canadian liberators such as these Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry Highlanders.
Infantry, Near Nijmegen, Holland, by Captain David [Alex] Alexander Colville.
Copyright Canadian War Museum (CN 12172).

Infantry, Near Nijmegen, Holland, by Captain David [Alex] Alexander Colville.

Soldiers from the 3rd Canadian Infantry march atop a dyke overlooking the flooded landscape.

The Canadians had two objectives. First, on 8 February, the 1st Canadian Army moved east of the Maas into the heavily fortified Rhineland. German resistance, always tenacious, became even more so as they were now fighting to defend their homeland. Nonetheless, by 10 February, the Canadians shattered the German defences of the Siegfried Line. The savage fighting continued. Only on 10 March was the 1st Canadian Army able to eliminate the last pockets of resistance. To this point in the German operations, the Canadians had suffered 5,304 casualties.

On 23 March, soon to be bolstered by troops from Italy, the Canadian Army crossed the Rhine, apparently headed for points east. By the beginning of April, however, plans changed and the 1st Canadian Army turned north. In the next few weeks, it liberated large portions of north-eastern Holland and attacked the north-western part of Germany to the Elbe River. Although this campaign was not without peril, the Canadian advances went largely according to plan. By 28 April, the Canadians had achieved almost all of their objectives.

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City of Edmonton Archives (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Collection, A98-96, Box 6).

Three letters documenting the battle injury that Lieutenant Campbell suffered in Italy in February 1945.

Three Letters: Lieutenant I.W. Campbell to His Father, James M. Campbell, 21 February 1945; Colonel R.T.E. Hicks-Lyne, Acting Director of Records, to James M. Campbell, 5 March 1945; Director of Records to James M. Campbell, 14 March 1945.

While the Canadians were being hailed as liberators of the Netherlands, the Third Reich was enduring its last agonizing hours. On 30 April, Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide. Karl Dönitz, Grand Admiral of the German navy and Hitler's successor, finally surrendered Germany to the Allies on 7 May.



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City of Edmonton Archives (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Collection, A96-215, Box 15).

Message from the Army Commander to All Ranks 1st Canadian Corps.

Lieutenant-General R.L. McCreery commends the Canadian Corps for its service in the Italian campaign.
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City of Edmonton Archives (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Collection, A98-96, Box 5).

Letter from Major C.F. Swan to "Daddy," 4 May 1945.

Major Swan reflects on his wartime experiences in a letter to his father, J.F. Swan.
 

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