Guide to Sources for Research into Military History

The Second World War

Arms, Men, and Governments: The War Policies of Canada, 1939-1945 : C. P. Stacey (Ottawa : Queen's Printer, 1970)

From the preface: "This volume is a conscientious attempt to tell, simply and directly, the story of the military policies of Canada during the Second World War in their main aspects.  [The author has] interpreted the word "military" loosely, and the book is designed to throw light on both the country's internal and external policies so far as they affected the conduct of the war."


The Necessary War: Canadians Fighting the Second World War, 1939-1943 : Tim Cook (Toronto : Allen Lane, 2014)

From the dust jacket: "This book shows in impressive detail how soldiers, airmen, and sailors fought—the evolving tactics, weapons of war, logistics, and technology. [...] The Necessary War examines the equally important factors of morale, discipline, and fortitude of the Canadian citizen-soldiers."


Fight to the Finish: Canadians Fighting in the Second World War, 1944-1945 : Tim Cook (Toronto : Allen Lane, 2015)

From the dust jacket: "With dozens of black-and-white photographs and moving excerpts from letters and diaries of servicemen, Fight to the Finish delivers a visceral portrayal of the impact of the war on Canadians."


The Fight for History: 75 Years of Forgetting, Remembering, and Remaking Canada's Second World War : Tim Cook (Toronto : Allen Lane, 2020)

From the introduction: "This book seeks to track and untangle the complicated, contested, and ever-shifting meaning of [WWII] over the past seventy-five years. [...] The Fight for History is a story of struggle and loss, of neglect and reclamation.  It is not a sentimental, nostalgic, or mawkish plea for more war in our history, but an attempt to track the rise, fall, and rise again of the relevance of the Second World War to Canadians.  The unfolding of Canada's social memory of war also reminds us that if we do not tell our own stories, no one else will.  If we do not embrace our history, it will be forgotten.  And without our own history, we run the risk of becoming unmoored and ungrounded.  This is our story, a war story that is essential to the unfinished narrative of what it means to be Canadian."


Six Years of War: The Army in Canada, Britain, and the Pacific : Col. C. P. Stacey (Ottawa : E. Cloutier, Queen's Printer, 1955-1960)

The Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War was published in three volumes, Vol. 1: Six years of war; the Army in Canada, Britain and the Pacific, by C. P. Stacey. -- Vol. 2: The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945, by G. W. L. Nicholson. -- Vol. 3: The victory campaign, the operations in North-West Europe, 1944-1945, by C. P. Stacey. We hold the three volume first edition, and a set of the 1960's reimpressions that contained minor corrections.


The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945 : Lt.-Col. G. W. L. Nicholson (Ottawa : E. Cloutier, Queen's Printer, 1955-1960)

From the author's preface: "In the autumn of 1948 [Nicholson] spent ten weeks in Italy studying the ground over which the Canadians fought.  He travelled the entire route of the Canadian forces from the Pachino beaches in south-eastern Sicily to the Senio River in Northern Italy, visiting the scene of every action in which Canadian soldiers were engaged, and taking upwards of 2000 photographs."


The Victory Campaign: The Operations in North-West Europe, 1944-1945 : Col. C. P. Stacey (Ottawa : E. Cloutier, Queen's Printer, 1955-1960)

From the preface: "The great campaign dealt with in this volume witness innumerable deeds of gallantry, some of which were suitably recognized, while others, as is inevitable in some cases, were not observed or not reported.  It is obviously out of the question to speak of all the well-merited awards that were made.  A few are mentioned, not necessarily as being the most distinguished, but simply so that they may stand as types and examples of the hundreds of other heroic acts which must necessarily pass unnoticed here."


We Were There: A Record for Canada : Jean E. Portugal (Shelburne : Royal Canadian Military Institute Heritage Society, 1998)

From the author's introduction: "[T]his Human History, We Were There, has been completed after 13 years and about 750 interviews with veterans of Canada's three Services from coast to coast.  Originally, I planned it as one volume covering experiences only up to June 11, 1944.  But I began getting such excellent material that I felt I should take their stories up to Germany and the end of the war.  At this point, it became too large for one book, so I have divided it into seven: We Were There – The Navy – Volume I; The Army – Volume II-VI; and The RCAF and Others – Volume VII."





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