Canada the Story of Us – United at War (1939 – 1944): As WWII devastates Europe, Canadians once again join the war effort.
WWII, a war even more terrible than the last, demands courage, commitment and ingenuity. Canada meets this challenge head on, giving everything we have at home and abroad. Canadians come together, working and fighting for a common cause. United – at war.
Canada the Story of Us – United at War (1939 – 1944)
Over 10 hours, the drama-documentary tells the extraordinary tale of some of the people, places and events that shaped Canada — stories of change makers and rule breakers, dreamers and visionaries, scientists and entrepreneurs who forged a nation in a vast and harsh land.
Canadian-made Hurricanes defend the British skies (1939-40)
When Britain orders 40 Hawker Hurricane fighters from Canadian Car and Foundry (CCF), it’s up to Elsie MacGill – the world’s first female aircraft designer – to make sure they get delivered in time to fend off an impending Nazi invasion.
MacGill does one better. She reorganizes the CCF plant in order to deliver the planes months in advance. The planes arrive in time to fly in the Battle of Britain. RCAF pilot Ernie McNab flies a Hurricane in the battle, using its advanced design to its full lethal force in battling the German air force, known as the Luftwaffe.
Canada patrols the seas (1942-44) – United at War
Britain needs boats and Canada is called upon to help build up the naval fleet. With a shortage of men to do the work, shipyards call on women to pitch in. One of them is Louise Christoffersen of Vancouver. She takes a job catching hot rivets for the riveter working next to her in the Burrard Dry Dock.
One of the boats built at the Burrard Dry Dock is the corvette HMCS Chilliwack. The crew of the Chilliwack successfully hunt German U-Boats, helping the Allies win the Battle of the Atlantic.
Lucien Dumais and Raymond LaBrosse go behind enemy lines (1944)
In January 1944, Lucien Dumais and Raymond LaBrosse attempt a daring rescue of Allied airmen who have been downed in Nazi-occupied France. The pair are given fake French identities and they use a network of safehouses to bring the men to the Brittany coast and back to England. Under cover of night, they bring 18 airmen through an active minefield, patrolled by German troops.
This mission and many like it are a massive success. By the time the Allies land in Normandy in June, Dumais and LaBrosse will have rescued 135 Allied fugitives from right under the Gestapo’s nose, all without losing a single life.
Fighting the glide bomb (1943-44)
In the summer of 1943, the German Luftwaffe unleash a new weapon of war that hampers the Allied efforts to control the seas: a radio-guided glide bomb. A Canadian ship, HMCS Athabaskan, is on the first to be attacked by this new weapon.
The Allies scramble to develop technologies to battle this weapon. Within six weeks, Canadian scientists at the NRC develop and produce the Canadian Naval Jammer. The Jammer blocks the signal between the bomb and the control unit, rendering it useless. The Jammer is deployed in time for use in the D-Day invasion.
Storming Juno Beach and liberating Holland (1944) – United at War
Canada’s contribution to the D-Day invasion comes with the storming of a Normandy beach code-named “Juno”. William “Boots” Bettridge and his fellow Queen’s Own Rifles land on the beach and push past mines, barbed wire, machine and walls, moving toward their D-Day objective. Boots, a trained sniper, heroically calls in aerial attacks on German tanks while in an exposed position.
George Horse, an Indigenous soldier from Central Saskatchewan’s Thunderchild First Nation, is a member of the Sapper division. The Sappers move ahead of the main Allied force, defusing bombs, mines, exploding road blocks and clearing a path for the rest of the force. Even by the standards of war, this is dangerous work, with the Sappers constantly open to attack. The Canadians receive a hero’s welcome in Holland where they liberate the people from the oppressive Nazi occupation.