From the routine of war to the chaos of peace: First Canadian Army's transition to peacetime operations – April 23rd to May 31st 1945

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University of New Brunswick


This project explores the dynamic shift from combat to stability-building operations made by Canadian soldiers in the Netherlands at the end of the Second World War. This thesis is a comparative investigation of the experiences of two Canadian infantry brigades and one armoured brigade. The findings highlight similarities and differences between each brigade as they shifted from combat to peacetime roles depending on their trade specialty and geographical location. These case studies bring to light how the same war ended in different ways, creating unique local dynamics for Canadian Army interaction with the defeated German Army, the Dutch population which had been subjugated for five years, and efforts to maintain the morale of Canadian soldiers between the end of hostilities and a time when they could go home. These situations and experiences demonstrate that the same war ended not with the stroke of a pen, but at different times and under very different circumstances throughout First Canadian Army's area of responsibility in the Netherlands in 1945.