Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944–1945

Description

407 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
$45.00
ISBN 0-8020-3925-1
DDC 940.54'21

Author

Year

2006

Contributor

Reviewed by Dave Bennett

David Bennett is the national director of the Department of Workplace Health, Safety and Environment at the Canadian Labour Congress in Ottawa.

Review

Following his excellent Fields of Fire (2003), an account of the
Canadian part in the Battle of Normandy (June–August 1944), Copp
continues the story of the Canadian Army’s Northwest European
campaign, from August 1944 to May 1945, when the war in Europe ended.
The main episodes are operations to clear the Channel ports, the
clearance of the Scheldt Estuary to open the great supply port of
Antwerp (the longest segment of the book), the Rhineland battles, and
the Liberation of Holland. In each case, Copp shows the Canadian troops
and their leaders to have performed admirably, with more weeks in action
and higher casualties than their British counterparts—this in the face
of historical ignorance, neglect, and condescension.

In the battles for the Scheldt Estuary, the Canadians were starved of
resources (human and material), yet were far more effective in achieving
success than anyone has previously shown. The reasons for relegating the
Canadian effort to a sideshow, however, are not quite as Copp claims. In
the first half of September 1944, no one saw the opening of Antwerp as a
priority issue, so there was then no conflict between the demands of the
Scheldt and those of a supposedly rival project, the Arnhem Operation
(i.e., A Bridge Too Far). In any case, Supreme Commander Dwight
Eisenhower wanted Antwerp to supply the final thrust into the heart of
Germany. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the overall commander of
Canadian troops, seems to have thought he could end the war without
supplies coming through Antwerp. When Eisenhower finally put his foot
down early in October, a month after Canadian operations began, the
reason he gave was not that he needed Antwerp just to get to Berlin, but
that without Antwerp, current operations would grind to a halt.

A major claim of Cinderella Army is that “the effectiveness of the
German army has been greatly exaggerated.” Granted, Copp has provided
a few plausible examples of faulty German tactics to add to the familiar
themes of command confusion and rigid defensive doctrine. However, these
are hardly enough to contend that the German performance has been
greatly overrated.

Citation

Copp, Terry., “Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944–1945,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15018.