Turning Point – 1943

Normandy and Northwest Europe

Germany Sundered

Surrender of the German army at Wageningen, the Netherlands, 5 May 1945

Caption: Surrender of the German army at Wageningen, the Netherlands, 5 May 1945

In the meantime II Canadian Corps extended its operations from eastern Netherlands to western Germany. The 4th Canadian Armoured Division crossed the River Ems at Meppen and advanced to Friesoythe by way of Sbgel, the 2nd Infantry Division moved from Groningen to the Oldenburg area and the 3rd Infantry Division relieved the Poles at the mouth of the Ems. Despite the collapse of the German armies everywhere else, the remnants of its Parachute Corps plus some naval elements continued to resist the Canadians and make the best use they could of the marshy ground to defend themselves. Fighting thus continued west of Oldenburg and north of the Kusten Canal, but the end was only a matter of days. On 4 May the ceasefire order was issued as Canadian troops advanced slowly on the naval base of Wilhelmshaven, Aurich and Emden. The next day the commanders of the two Canadian army corps, Generals Foulkes and Simonds, accepted the surrenders of Generals Blaskowitz and Straube on their respective fronts. The official German surrender was signed on 7 May at Reims, France. Between the Lower Rhine and the German city of Bremen, the Allies had eight divisions, five of them Canadian. The Canadian troops that penetrated the deepest into Germany were those of the 1st Parachute Battalion, who went to Wismar and there met the Soviets on 2 May.

At the end of the 1914-18 war the troops had been eager to return to Canada. In 1945 the feeling was just as strong, and the opinion was that length of service should be the deciding factor for much-desired repatriation. The equivalent of one division would stay on as an occupation force. Comprising volunteers and men who had served only a short time overseas, it was assigned to the British Occupation Zone in northwestern Germany. Its members would spend less than a year in Germany, for in April 1946 the Canadian Occupation Force delegated its responsibilities to the British 52nd Division. By the end of 1946 only a hundred or so Canadian soldiers were still in the United Kingdom.