The 2 major allied militaries that history books rarely mention

This is just my ramblings some of this was taught in school some of this is from Canadian veterans and some is from history books.

Canada and Australia were major players in WW2 in their respective theatres of war. Canada in the Atlantic and European theatre and Australia in the pacific and it is very unfortunate that they often get only passing mention in many history books.

While the US and Britain could field huge military units and switch them out of the front lines for rest and recovery frequently neither Canada or Australia had that luxury and often their military units in all branches would spend weeks and months at the front lines resulting in heavy losses and minimal replacements whereas both the Americans and British could replace entire divisions if needed.

The side effect of being on the front lines so often was that both Canada and Australia had very experienced and effective fighting units that their enemies feared whether it be in the air, sea or land. Unfortunately both the Americans and British had negative views of the losses both their smaller counterparts incurred and often were stated as much in dispatches especially by less experienced US and British commanders.

In the Atlantic the Canadian Navy was the backbone of the convoy system and it resulted in the Canadian navy becoming one of the best navies for anti submarine warfare during and the decades following WW2. Many history books mention in detail the British and American navies but give passing mention to the Canadian navy and their important and vital contribution to the war.

In both Canada and Australia I believe something like 85% of all personnel served in active duty combat whereas the US I read that less than 40% of their military served in active combat with the British being around 60-70% serving in active combat. The Germans in Italy and Europe quickly came to respect and fear the Canadians with many German officers stating after the war that they would often upon seeing Canadian uniforms or seeing Canadian troops they knew they were in for a fight and sometimes even retreated rather than face the Canucks as a German general put it during the Italian campaign “if we saw the Canadians we knew we were in for a fight we would rather fight the British or Americans than face the Canadians”

In the pacific the Australians were known as tenacious fighters and small units were known to hold off entire Japanese divisions. I am less familiar with the Australian military but one American Commander was stated as saying “give me an Australian regiment over an American division any day” that says a lot right there.


Don’t get me wrong , I am not even British ,but Australia and Canada as well as other dominion military and non military contributions were classified under in British Empire or British Commonwealth war effort back then since they mostly followed the policy drawn by London and pooled their resources under British war effort. Canadian Navy back then had been Royal Canadian Navy , Canadian Army was in 21st Army Group mostly made up either British or Canadians. Canadian air crews in Royal Canadian Air Force were absorbed in RAF Bomber Command etc…Same with Australia , New Zealand , South Africa , India etc. It was not looked or reviewed seperate from British Commonwealth War Effort back then.


That is very true but at the same time they were also allowed to fight under their own flag which was a rarity in the commonwealth which is why the Canadians and Australians were recognized as separate nations from commonwealth and both countries signed the peace treaty under their own nation separating them from Britain and the commonwealth again.

We are still part of the commonwealth today as we recognize the Queen as our head of state still but we are our own nation with only ceremonial input from Britain.


Well it is true that in the 21st army group the canadians played a important role, they were still a junior force. They were part of a world force in the 21 armygroup consisting of dutch, poles, belgians, english, canadians and others. The focus lay on the british 2nd army and its drive to the rhine. Yet the Canadians were important in the war, mainly for the coastal regions. But because of that they played a minor role in the liberation and therfore the history books. (Not in the Netherlands)
The australians mainly fought in italy and therefore received little attention compared to the western front.

Ps. This is only for the western front talking

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What about the New Zealanders?
Huge contribution to the Battle of Britain, including the commander of 11 group on the front line. And ongoing within the RAF.
Major contributions in N Africa and Italy 2nd div.
Over 20 squadrons from the RNZAF in the pacific.
And the sinking of IJN I-1 by HMNZS ships Moa and Kiwi is worth a movie.


Your description of the RCN as the backbone of the convoy systems is not supported by evidence.
The RCN made a huge contribution to the convoy system, a contribution to be extremely proud of, but the numbers don’t support the backbone claim.
Flower class RCN 117 out of 294.
Castle class RCN 12 out of 44.
River class 67 out of 151.
The Battle of the Atlantic was an allied team effort; a team in which Canada was definitely a star player.

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While the kiwis were ferocious fighters in their own right they fought for the commonwealth under the British flag and were not recognized as a nation per se.

The Canadians and Australians were also part of the commonwealth but fought under their own flag and as such were afforded certain freedoms that others in the commonwealth could not obtain.

That is the main reason why I did not list the Kiwis as they were not recognized as an individual nation. My apologies.

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New Zealand was as much an independent nation in WW2 as Canada and Australia
The NZ government chose to integrate with the RAF in Europe. In the pacific the RNZAF was not integrated with the RAF.
Equally the NZ government had chosen to integrate with the RN in 1913. So at the start of WW2 the NZ navy was integrated with the RN, this ended in October 41.
On the ground the 2nd NZ division in was as much a national division as any of the other Commonwealth nations.

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