4 The Second World War was a defining event in Canadian history, transforming a country on the fringes of global affairs into a critical player in the 20th century’s most important struggle. Canada carried out a vital role in the Battle of the Atlantic and the air war over Germany, and contributed forces to campaigns in Western Europe beyond the effort expected of a small nation of only 11 million people. Between 1939 and 1945, more than one million Canadian men and women served full-time in the armed services. More than 43,000 were killed. During the Second World War, women played a larger role in the war effort. With so many men away serving in the war, many women found employment in jobs and industries previously restricted to men, including in military trades that had been closed to them. Following the organization of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps and the Royal Canadian Air Force (Women’s Division) in 1941, and the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (familiarly known as the Wrens) the following year, more than 45,000 women entered the wartime forces. They served in clerical, administrative, communication, and other support roles, freeing men for combat roles. ACTIVITY #3 WOMEN IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR During the Second World War, women were permitted to serve in less traditional roles in the army, navy, and air force, although only in non-combat roles. Originally intended to free up men for fighting, the new policies allowed enlisted women to serve in a variety of roles, such as clerks, stenographers, ambulance drivers, and intelligence analysts. Women on the home front also made important contributions to the war effort, both in their homes and in the workplace. 1. Break into five groups. This is your “expert group.” 2. The teacher will assign each group one of the following subjects: • Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) • Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (Wrens) • Royal Canadian Air Force (Women’s Division) • Women on the Home Front • Nursing Sisters 3. Using the relevant resources (listed in the Women in the Canadian Armed Forces Worksheet, page 4), each expert group should complete the table (also in the worksheet) about their assigned topic. 4. Form new groups of five students, making sure each group has at least one “expert” who researched a different women’s formation. Each student will identify and explain to the new group that formation’s three to five most important contributions to the war effort, and why they were important. 5. Individually, write a newspaper article from the point of view of a journalist explaining how women in the Canadian Armed Forces contributed to the war effort. SECOND WORLD WAR Canadian Women’s Army Corps Pipe and Brass bands in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, 13 August 1945 (Lt Dan Guravich/Department of National Defence/ Library and Archives Canada/PA-115474). Wrens Margaret Horn, Shirley Shoebottom, and Camilla Balcombe assist Lieutenant E.G. Aust at the tactical table in June 1944 (Library and Archives Canada/PA-108180). Signallers Marian Wingate and Margaret Little of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service at work in St. John’s, Newfoundland, April 1945 (PO Edward W. Dinsmore/ Department of National Defence/ Library and Archives Canada/PA-128241). L/Cpl A.W. Hartung with Pipers Flossie Rose (centre) and Mona Michie of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps Pipe Band, Zeist, Netherlands, 25 August 1945 (Lt Charles H. Richer/ Department of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-115466).