This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

An Item of Canadian WWII History

"Without these vehicles, the war would have looked very different."
"To meet the needs of modern mobile warfare, it was essential to have lots and lots of trucks. The contribution of the CMP [Canadian military pattern truck] was truly significant."
Andrew Burtch, historian, Canadian War Museum
People look at a British Valentine tank on Arromanches beach in Normandy, during a ceremony in 2014.
The D-Day ceremonies on June 6 this year mark the 70th anniversary since the launch of 'Operation Overlord', a vast military operation by Allied forces in Normandy, which turned the tide of World War II, eventually leading to the liberation of occupied France and the end of the war against Nazi Germany. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGETJOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images     People look at a British Valentine tank on Arromanches beach in Normandy, during a ceremony in 2014.

During the Second World War, Canadian production of tracked and wheeled machines of war represented a significant contribution in the battle against the German fascists. Vehicles specifically meant for military use became a Canadian specialty when Canadian factories produced almost 850,000 vehicles during the period 1939 to 1945, supplying Allied nations and Russia with self-propelled guns and tanks.

It was the 725,000 trucks, however, produced by Canada and sent abroad that really distinguished Canadian truck production. As a wartime achievement this is a little-noticed footnote in history. Because of its large prewar automotive sector, manufacturers turned around their template to build more military trucks than all the Axis nations comprised of Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan combined.

This automotive output gave the Allies the opportunity to meet and exceed the demands of mobile warfare of the time. The British Eighth Army that met German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in North Africa used the ubiquitous Canadian military pattern truck. With the Allies moving to Sicily, Italy and then France, heavy dependence on Canadian trucks became the norm. Toward war's end, the Canadian Army's own supply of trucks transformed it into the most mobile army in the world.

While the United States had one vehicle per seven GIs, Canada had a vehicle for every three soldiers in the field. The CMP represented a joint effort between the Canadian divisions of General Motors and Ford to match British specifications in the production of a sturdy military truck. Its angular snub nose allowed efficient packing on ships while its inward sloping windshield reduced glare cutting down on reflections seen by enemy planes. It had a single blackout headlight, and was righthand drive.

This was the ultimate conflict vehicle; highly adaptable, standardized chassis that could be kitted to a wide array of tasks. As a troop carrier, a field ambulance, radio HQ, fuel tanker, recovery truck, welding station, or artillery tractor. All built on Canadian production lines, disassembled, crated and shipped overseas there to be re-assembled in Egypt, Italy, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and anywhere else they were needed.

Post-war, the Netherlands shipped its CMP trucks to Indonesia, and Belgian CMPs ended up being shipped to Africa. Any that remain to this day have become popular collectors' items globally.

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