First Canadian Army

Victory in Europe 1944–45

Reviewed by Mark Collin Reid

Posted March 26, 2021

It’s rare for a book to capture your attention from the very first sentence, but kudos to the authors of First Canadian Army: Victory in Europe 1944–45 for doing just that.

“Britain and the world owe Canada a great debt for its involvement in World War II,” co-authors Simon Forty and Leo Marriott write to begin the preface to their book about the First Canadian Army’s role in defeating Nazi Germany. “Without Canada, would Britain have been able to propose fighting them on the beaches in 1940?”

Those lines hit home, for I, too, feel that Canada’s contributions to victory in both world wars have unfortunately been downplayed or ignored over the decades by the country’s allies. In First Canadian Army, long-time publishing collaborators Forty and Marriott offer a pictorial history of Canada’s contributions to victory against the Nazis and the rest of the Axis Powers.

The authors searched through several regional and national archives, resulting in their book featuring a host of black-and-white and colour photographs. The images allow readers to follow Canada’s troops from the D-Day landings to the battles in the Netherlands and the final push into the Rhineland of Germany.

The co-authors also include plenty of maps to help readers make sense of the battles. Each chapter begins with a short introduction that is followed by extended photo captions that enhance the information contained in the images.

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This article originally appeared in the April-May 2021 issue of Canada’s History.

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