Let me help you with that

A guest post from my husband, Chris.

Image result for Newspaper reports Juno Beach

Juno Beach, Normandy, France

Considering the rotten things Donald Trump has said about – and done to – his neighbours to the south, it seems almost churlish to complain about his latest insult to Canada. Hell, despite his patronizing tone he may even have been trying to be complimentary when he conceded that in the Second World War Canada “helped us out”.

But honest to God, for the benefit of the many thoughtful and fair-minded Americans who may not have the grasp of history that you would expect of a President, let me explain a few things.

Here’s a good one to start with: by an interesting trick of time travel we started helping America in September 1939, two years and three months before you joined the fight. During that time we helped you by flying in the Battle of Britain; escorting convoys across the North Atlantic; carrying out bombing raids over Europe; sending agents into Europe; and training thousands of American ex-pats to help us in the fight against fascism. Immediately following the disaster at Dunkirk and the fall of France, the First Canadian Division was the only large body of trained soldiers in England equipped to resist the expected invasion.

While you listened to “do-nothings” and quasi-fascist isolationists like Lindbergh, we got busy helping set up the Commonwealth Air Training Plan which put over 140,000 aircrew from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Norway and other countries through training in Canada. Included in this number were a pretty healthy crop of Americans who needed our help to get into the fight. By the end of the war about 10,000 Canadian air crew lost their lives.

Canada fought in China at Hong Kong, in North Africa, in Sicily and Italy, in North West Europe and in south-east Asia. We took one of five beaches on D-Day.

With a population of only 11 million at the time, Canada had over one million people in uniform during World War II. Virtually every industry was a war industry. And we were never attacked! We did this when we could have sat back and relied on geography to see us through. Instead we stepped up. About 60,000 Canadians died in the war. And if it happened again, we’d do it again.

I don’t begrudge the United States the pride it takes in its contribution to the fight in the Second World War. You were an indispensable ally. But let’s get this straight. When you joined the war late in 1941, you helped Britain and its allies. Even the USSR, which took a savage toll in casualties, can’t claim that we were just their helper. It’s not something they like to be reminded of, but they only joined Britain, Canada and others after two years of trade with Germany – including trade in war materials – bought them time to get a little readier to face the inevitable. So, thanks America for doing the right thing. But remember, while your track record on fighting fascism may be good, on identifying fascists for what they are – not great.


13 thoughts on “Let me help you with that

  1. Well said!
    A lot of Canadians were killed fighting fascism from the start to the bitter end and without them I reckon I’d be living under the Iron Heel.
    Visited the Canadian memorial and museum at Juno beach a few years ago. Very moving.
    Thanks for helping us out Canada

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susanne, thank you for having Chris [guest] blog this concise history! As a U.S. citizen I am used to hearing narratives about what the U.S has done for other countries – not what other countries have done on to help the U.S.
    And for the record, DT does not speak for me. Ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I join with the other American comments about our downright shame at the remarks DT has directed toward our longtime loyal friends and allies in the great country to our north. I cannot explain how such a man was elected president in this country, but my fervent hope is that this gross man will not return in 2021. I am grateful to Canada not only for their leadership and sacrifices in WWII but for their steadfast friendship in the 70 years since. We love you guys, your Prime Minister and his family. May we continue to support each other and uphold the common values we share.
    This, too, shall pass.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. If the present day Caligula were to be presented with the truth on a platter, he would think it odd: what is this gelatinous aspic they call the truth? I recognize it not.

    And, as aspic is slimy and slippery, so too is the unctuous descent into fascism.

    Good analysis, Mr. Susanne.

    (It’s hard for me to picture Canadians as the bad guys in anything.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At the moment I’m embarrassed to be from the USA. That’s a first in my lifetime and I’m 62. I’ve not agreed with some Presidents in the past but I respected the position and their right to have a different opinion than me. This one is just beyond words. I wish I were as brave as chsusca above. When I’ve been in positions to hear someone who supports him I’ve stayed quiet out of fear that I don’t know enough to argue, but mostly because I hate controversy. I think I need to get over that.

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  6. I need add nothing to the commentary except that, as an Englishwoman who normally makes her home in France I can guarantee that the value of Canada’s role in the allied effort would never be rudely given cursory lip service in either country. Of course we recognize the importance of the American intervention too whilst never losing sight of the fact that it was late and only provoked by an attack on them personally. Great losses were suffered by all those involved on both sides. The overwhelming sadness that I have is that, as ever, so many seem to have failed to learn a single thing and that in many countries the same odious stench of inequality and prejudice is drenching the air and the ‘Leader of the Free World’ might do better to face that fact head on before he has a situation in his own country that is so out of control that all he will be able to do is stand Nero like as it burns. Mind you, fiddling is his thing so I guess it would be quite a neat ending …..

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Thank you, Chris, for your writing! I am struggling over in the east with all that is going on under DJT. At times it is impossible to wrap one’s head around it. But we do have to speak up. Just yesterday I sat at the hairdresser with a lovely plastic bag on my head, when some person started talking about how Trump was doing such good things. I was fit to be tied. Guess it was not such a good picture when I strongly voiced my opinion on the contrary. I don’t think that I was able to get that person to even entertain a thought of even really listen, but I did not have it in me to be quiet.
    Thanks again for your excellent post.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I’ve been to the Peace Tower and the Memorial Chamber at Parliament in Ottawa, and seen the ceremony where they turn the pages in the books commemorating Canadian lives lost in war. Canadians have been brave and true in creating a better world. Please don’t think all Americans are jerks . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’ve been working hard to not let DJT get under our skin but as the daughter of a vet and the wife of a historian, sometimes you have to speak up on behalf of those who can’t.

      Liked by 4 people

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