Unsung Courage, 1939-1945: 20 Stories of Canadian Valour and Sacrifice


392 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-00-200076-8
DDC 940.54'8171




Reviewed by Tim Cook

Tim Cook is the World War I historian at the Canadian War Museum. He is
the author of No Place to Run: The Canadian Corps and Gas Warfare in the
First World War.


Arthur Bishop has provided another rousing tale of individual Canadians
engaged in acts of bravery, devotion to duty, and ultimate sacrifice
during World War II. Unlike his earlier books that depicted more
established heroes, Unsung Courage focuses on 20 individual Canadians
and their relatively unknown war stories.

Unsung Courage explores the “sharp end” of war as experienced by
the men and women who fought for freedom and democracy. Their stories
are awe-inspiring and terrifying. The carnage at Dieppe, the attritional
warfare of the Normandy campaign, the silent and swift death delivered
to the merchant marine by skulking U-boats, the aircraft battles in the
Mediterranean to sever the German’s logistical line to North Africa,
and role of women in the RCAF’s Women’s Division are but some of the
stories recounted in the fast-paced narrative.

Reading Unsung Courage is not the best way to understand the role of
Canada in the Second World War—it is too episodic and anecdotal for
that. Nonetheless, Bishop is right to point out that it was
individuals—more than a million in Canada—who struggled to victory
against the Axis powers. Yet each “unsung” Canadian has his or her
own story to tell and not everyone has been recognized as a hero of the
status of a Buzz Beurling or a David Currie. Bishop’s book succeeds
admirably in reminding us of the extraordinary sacrifice and legacy of
all Canadians who served in World War II.


Bishop, Arthur., “Unsung Courage, 1939-1945: 20 Stories of Canadian Valour and Sacrifice,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7640.