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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : BLACK CANADIAN VETERAN OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR - FIGHTING OVER SEAS OR WORKING AT HOME IN INDUSTRIES :

                        BLACK               SOCIAL             HISTORY

Second World War


Cecilia Butler working in the John Inglis Company munitions plant in Toronto during the Second World War, December 1943.
Little more than 20 years after the end of the “War to End all Wars,” the Second World War (1939–1945) erupted and soon spread across Europe and around the globe. The Second World War saw considerable growth in how Black Canadians served in the military. While some Black recruits would encounter resistance when trying to enlist in the army, in contrast to the First World War no segregated battalions were created. Indeed, several thousand Black men and women served during the bloodiest war the world has ever seen. Black Canadians joined regular units and served alongside their white fellow soldiers here at home, in England, and on the battlefields of Europe. Together they shared the same harsh experiences of war while fighting in places like Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
In the early years of the war, however, the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force were not as inclusive in their policies. This did not mean that trail-blazing Black Canadians did not find a way to persevere and serve. Some Black sailors served in the Navy, and Black airmen served in the Air Force as ground crew and aircrew here at home and overseas in Europe.
The contributions of Black servicemen was second to none and several earned decorations for their bravery. Some Black women joined the military as well, serving in support roles so that more men were available for the front lines.
And back on the home front, Black Canadians again made important contributions by working in factories that produced vehicles, weapons, ammunition and other materials for the war effort, and taking part in other patriotic efforts like war bond drives. For example, Black women in Nova Scotia worked in vital jobs in the shipbuilding industry, filling the shoes of the men who would usually do that work but who were away fighting in the war.

Major Stephen Blizzard.
Many Black Veterans returned home after the war with a heightened awareness of the value of freedom and their right to be treated as equals after all they had done for Canada in their country’s time of need. The service of Black Canadians in the Second World War remains a point of pride and was a measure of how Black Canadians were becoming increasingly integrated into wider Canadian society.