July 12, 1943

THE WAR

LANDING OPERATIONS IN SICILY-PARTICIPATION OF CANADIAN FORCES

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, in the brief review of the progress of the war which I gave to this house on Friday morning last, I said that the North African campaign had marked the triumphal close of an important chapter in the war. I also said that the new German offensive against Russia launched earlier in the week, along with recent intensified bombings of the strategic areas over Europe, marked a place of new beginning. I intimated too that the aerial and commando assaults against Italy and the islands of the Mediterranean were parts of a single strategy which the immediate future might be expected rapidly to unfold and of which the liberation of the French empire in Africa was both an essential and a memorable prelude.

Since the house adjourned on Friday evening, events in the new phase of the war of liberation have unfolded with great rapidity. Hon. members, I am sure, will wish to have on the records of our parliament the text of the communique which announced the attack which has, as its ultimate objective, the unconditional surrender of Italy and Germany, and- the beginning of the first major land operation in which Canadian forces have taken part in the present war. The communique was received at midnight from allied force advance headquarters in Algiers, North Africa. It was

[Mr. Maclnnis.l

made public immediately, which was July 10, Ottawa time. It reads:

Allied forces, under the command of General Eisenhower, began landing operations on Sicily early this morning. The landings were preceded by allied air attack. Allied naval forces escorted the assault forces and bombarded the coast defences during the assault.

A supplementary communique was issued by the war department at Washington at 12.20 a.m., July 10. This disclosed that the allied forces concerned were Anglo-American-Cana-dian forces.

Following the issuance of the communique from General Eisenhower's headquarters, an avis or notice was read on General Eisenhower's behalf to the people of France making clear that the offensive launched against Sicily was the first stage in the liberation of the European continent, but equally clear that the general invasion of Europe had not as yet begun. The people of France were asked to remember this, to remain calm and not expose themselves to reprisals by acting too quickly. They were told that when the time for the general invasion came, they would be informed accordingly.

The text of this announcement to the Frenchmen of metropolitan France was in the following words:

Anglo-American-Canadian armed forces have to-day launched an offensive against Sicily. It is the first stage in the liberation of the European continent, there will be others. I call on the French people to remain calm, not to allow themselves to be deceived by the false rumours which the enemy might circulate. The allied radio will keep you informed on military developments. I count on your sang-froid, and on your sense of discipline. Do not be rash, for the enemy is watching. Keep on listening to the allied radio, and never heed rumours. Verify carefully the news you receive by remaining calm, by not exposing yourselves to reprisals through premature action, you will be helping us effectively. When the hour of action strikes, we will let you know. Till then help us byfollowing our instructions-that is to say, keep calm, conserve your strength. We repeat when the hour of action strikes, we w-ill let your know.

For all time, Canada will be justifiably proud of the fact that, when the attack for the liberation of the conquered and enslaved countries of Europe was launched by the armed forces of Britain, the United States, and Canada, on European soil, units of the Canadian army were at the spearhead of the attack.

As to the size and composition of the Canadian forces taking part in the invasion of Sicily, I am, for reasons of security, limited to saying that the force is a substantial one, and that Canada's fighting men, in this assault, have been drawn from every province of the dominion. They include both Frenchspeaking and English-speaking Canadians.

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The knowledge that the force is representative of so many parts of Canada will heighten our pride in their selection for so important a task.

It is a further source of satisfaction for our country to know that squadrons and formations of the Royal Canadian Air Force had a significant place in the operations against Sicily.

It is too early to make a statement on the progress of operations in Sicily in which our forces, together with forces from the United Kingdom and the United States, are engaged. The first reports of the allied landings indicate that the initial phases of this vital operation have proceeded according to plan, and that the allied forces are now striking deeply into Sicily. The success of the initial landings is a tribute to the careful planning which preceded this vast undertaking and to the close cooperation of the land, sea and air forces under General Eisenhower's command.

The most that can be said at the moment is that the first critical period has passed. The most critical .period has still to come. It will be when the enemy counter-attacks. When that time comes we must expect severe action. There will be heavy fighting. Counterattacks, I believe, have already begun.

Here may I say a word about the nature and extent of the information which it will be possible for the government to give hon. members regarding military operations. We are fully conscious of the deep and legitimate interest of the house and the country in operations in which Canadian troops are engaged. We should, however, not lose sight of the fact that in the present operations in Sicily British and United States troops are engaged as well as our own. All three governments must be guided largely by the judgment of the military commanders as to what information can be made public with due regard for military security. That information is necessarily and rightly made available on the spot to the press.

There is no way in which the government on day to day military operations, can be better informed than the press, except to the extent that information is available which in the opinion of the military commanders should be kept secret in order to ensure the safety of their troops or the success of future operations. I shall not attempt therefore to give day to day summaries of the progress of operations. From time to time, as circumstances warrant, statements will be made in the house either by myself or by the Ministers of National Defence as to the significance of

events. In that respect the practice here will be similar to the practice followed in the parliament at Westminster.

As to information regarding the progress of operations from day to day, the army, like the air force, has made what are confidently believed to be effective arrangements to provide information as fully and rapidly as security permits. In this connection, no doubt many hon. members heard the broadcast given from Algiers by Flight Lieutenant Leslie Powell of the Royal Canadian Air Force public relations branch. Because of the excellent arrangements made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation it was heard in Canada on Saturday morning, less than an hour after the first news of the landing was released. Hon. members will also have seen or heard the report by Ross Munro of the Canadian Press direct from Sicily, which followed shortly thereafter.

The assault upon Sicily marks for Canada the beginning of a new phase of the war. The Canadian army thus far has had few opportunities for active combat with the enemy. After Dunkirk, it became a living shield of defence against the threatened invasion of Britain. For a time, the first Canadian division was almost the only land force in the United Kingdom equipped to meet an invader. In this way, Canada's troops came to have the role of defenders of Britain. As successive divisions and reinforcements crossed the Atlantic from Canada, they were fitted into that role. For the three years since, the Canadian army in Britain has helped to maintain the security of Britain. All this has been in accordance with the strategy planned by those who have had the supreme direction of the war. From the outbreak of war, our government has adhered to the position that Canadian forces, in whole or in part, should be used where and when they can make the best contribution to the winning of the war.

The presence of our army in Britain has been a means of holding in western Europe, German forces many times its size. There were combined operations of a minor character in which Canadian troops were engaged during 1941 and 1942, but it was at Dieppe that units of the Canadian army in Britain first went into action against the enemy. Dieppe was a preparation for further combined operations. More recently, in order to gain experience in leadership under fire, officers and non-commissioned officers from our army in Britain went into battle with the British first army in Tunisia. That experience was also a part of the preparation for coming days.

As I said in announcing the present attack upon Sicily, the soldiers of Canada have gone

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into battle exceptionally well trained, superbly equipped, keen and full of spirit, ready for offensive warfare.

In this new phase of the war for Canada, the army will share with the navy and the air force, the heat of combat and also inevitable sufferings and losses. We can expect no easy victories and no quick successes. Rather must we be prepared for fierce fighting and for a long struggle.

In thinking of the hour when a part of Canada's army would go into full scale action against the enemy, we have never imagined that there would be either an easy victory or an early victory. We realize that the enemy is strongly entrenched in his European fortress, and that so long as Hitler can draw upon a storehouse comprising occupied Europe, his forces can be provisioned for a lengthy war.

For the Canadian people, it is only human that the centre of our interest in the coming weeks should be the battle for Sicily, but all of us must careful to keep a sense of proportion. Let us not forget the much greater battle on the plains of Russia. In two years of fighting on the most titanic scale in history, the Soviet armies have inflicted grievous wounds on nazi military power. Without that weakening of German strength, the operations now in progress would have been foredoomed to failure, if indeed they could have been attempted at all. We should remember, too, that Sicily is only an outpost of Europe. Many other bridgeheads will have to be established before the final struggle even begins. These outer ramparts of nazi Germany are very strong. To reach the centres of nazi power on German soil will require a long and fierce struggle in all the occupied lands. The war, moreover, will not be ended when nazi power has been crushed. The military might of Japan will still have to be destroyed.

The battle of Europe is now joined. It must now be fought to a finish. It will be a hard fight. It will be a long fight. Something in our hearts, something emerging in the very soul of our nation must tell us that this is the greatest cause upon which we have ever been embarked.

In conclusion, I should like to repeat what I said to the press and over the radio on Saturday morning:

The fighting men of Canada, on land, at sea, and in the air, are risking their lives to preserve everything that all of us hold dear. They are joined together, in the cause of freedom, in the service of their fellowmen, and by an abiding attachment to their homeland. All Canada will share the pride of their loved ones in their courage and in their achievements. Of one thing we may be assured. They will not fail us. We

must not fail them. They will fight better for the assurance of the support of a united Canada. We, too, shall need all the strength that comes from a deep feeling of unity. I repeat, we must not fail our fighting men. In the name of Canada, I give to them the assurance that Canada will not fail her fighting men.

That assurance, I repeat this morning in this House of Commons on behalf of the parliament of Canada. Hon. members, I am confident, will all wish to join in this assurance.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I think none of us in the House of Commons to-day will have failed to notice that the words which the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has just uttered were received by a thoughtful, serious-minded and very solemn House of Commons. I wish to thank the Prime Minister for his statement with respect to the operations and developments on the Sicilian front. I hope, as he intimated, that from time to time when considerations of security permit the house will have the benefit of further advices and further news as it may reach the government.

Mere words seem feeble and futile in the midst of such moving events as have been taking place within the last day or two, particularly at this moment when Canada is moving past another historic milestone. I have no desire to do more at this time than to echo the words of the Prime Minister with reference to the Sicilian front. The fiercest challenge of all still lies ahead, and I am sure that the house and the country is a unit in the hope and prayer that our arms will be successful in the difficult and trying days that lie ahead, and that the loss of human life and the consequent sorrow and suffering shall be kept to the minimum that is possible so far as our armed forces are concerned.

Canada's heroism, Canada's bravery in the war which concluded just about a quarter of a century ago earned for her honour and renown throughout the world. In world war number two, Canada in the opinion of this house and of our people generally will parallel her achievements of a quarter of a century ago. We are proud of our boys who are on the Sicilian front to-day. May God bless them as they proceed with their perilous task of helping to liberate the enslaved and suffering peoples of Europe. Let this word go out to our forces in Sicily, as it goes out to our forces in other parts of the world: Canada backs you with everything we have. And may we in this house, Mr. Speaker, and) in Canada as a whole, so conduct ourselves as to be worthy

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at home here of the services and the sacrifices which our men are making on the dangerous Mediterranean front.

I join with the Prime Minister in his statement that Canada stands united in this project, as in other projects that will follow-a united Canada with a keen and enthusiastic national feeling that we are playing our part in the interests of freedom, righteousness and Christianity in this conflict which we all hope will be brought to a victorious conclusion as early as possible.

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Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. M. J. COLD WELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I think we have all listened this morning to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) with feelings that the occasion upon which we meet is not only one of rejoicing that our men have made a successful landing on the Sicilian coast, but also one of great solemnity. I am sure that all members of this house can say to the Prime Minister, to the government and to the men engaged in perilous operations across the sea, that Canada is a unit behind them in this hour of great struggle and great sacrifice. As we think of the casualty lists that must come in, this house should consider carefully every possible step that can be taken to ease the blow for those who will suffer, both those who will lose loved ones and the men who will return to us maimed and sick. It is the duty of this country to make adequate preparation for all this, and far more than we have done up to the present time.

One other word I should like to say, and it is this: Canada's soldiers to-day are engaged in a great adventure against Italy. I have no doubt that as they move forward, grave military and political decisions will have to be made, both by the commanders and by governments. People looked with anxious eyes and some misgivings at the political developments in Algiers after North Africa was invaded. Canada is contributing her blood and treasure in this onset against Italy, and on behalf of many people in this country and, indeed, elsewhere, I ask that our government see to it that it play its proper part in anj political arrangements that are made, so that this war shall indeed become in every respect a war of liberation- not a war for the reestablishment of dynasties of the past or of governments that have lost the confidence of their peoples, but that in any understandings which are reached, Canada as a freedom-loving and democratic nation shall assist the long-suffering peoples of Europe to complete their liberation.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. BLACKMORE (Lethbridge):

Mr. Speaker, we are indeed met on a solemn occasion. One thing which impressed me in this morning's remarks more than any other one thing was the statement which the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) made in the following words:

I give to them the assurance that Canada will not fail her fighting men.

The Prime Minister made those remarks on Saturday in his broadcast, to which I listened with great interest and with very serious thoughts. I recalled that while the last war was going on, many of the dearest friends that I have ever had, boys with whom I had sat in high school, normal school and university classes were pouring out their lifeblood and giving their glorious young lives in a war to make the world safe for democracy -note the word. I recall at about this stage of the conflict we had solemn assurances from a number of men, including statesmen, to the effect that when the boys came back they would return to homes for heroes. Alas, what did they come home to? Far, far too many of them were not even given hovels for heroes, much less homes. It is an exceedingly easy matter for us to stand in this house and promise great things lightly without indicating in any way how we propose to provide these great things. I trust the Prime Minister will not feel too greatly offended if I ask him to tell the country what Canada has already done for the heroes who have already been maimed and injured in this war. I ask him if he will stand in this house and tell this country what guarantee Canada has given to the men who bled at Dieppe. Just what has she done for these men? Has she failed them, or has she not? If it were fitting I could bring into this house at this moment stories that should make every hon. member of this house hang his head in shame, stories of what has already been done for the men who have done their bit and who have returned to this country thus far in the war.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not wish to interrupt the hon. member, but I do feel that if he has any statements that he thinks parliament should have, he should give them to parliament, but he should not make innuendoes nor should he, if I may be permitted-

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Not at this time.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

-bring forward indirect insinuations or innuendoes which are certain 'to be greatly misconstrued, not only t.hrouehout this country but by the men who

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are to-day offering their lives in the service of freedom. May I say to my hon. friend, who is usually thoughtful and careful about the occasions on which certain utterances should be made, that this is the last occasion on which he should make references of the kind he is making at the moment.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Mr. Speaker, generally speaking, a man who faces facts and says the truth about those facts makes himself exceedingly unpopular on any occasion.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon. friend is not giving us facts. I ask him if he has any statement to make, any facts to give, to give them and be prepared to prove them. If he is unable to do that, he should not make innuendoes.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

There is only one King I can say in the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, and that is this: I said a moment ago that on a suitable occasion I would bring in plenty of evidence. Now that the Prime Minister has challenged me, I shall-

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LIB

Thomas Vincent Grant

Liberal

Mr. GRANT:

You did not say that at all.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Once more the Liberals are at work at their usual game of belittling the people who are trying to tell the truth in this country and in this parliament. I do not propose to say anything undignified on this occasion, but at the same time I intend to say something that is worth saying. Idle, meaningless vaporizing is of no use on this occasion. If I have said anything up to the present time which either by implication or by meaning could be construed as offensive or as inappropriate on this occasion, I withdraw it; but I give assurance to the house that at a later time I shall reassert it, because so far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, as one member of parliament I do not propose to neglect my bounden duty to the people who sent me here and to the soldiers who are fighting our war.

May I go on, Mr. Speaker? The Prime Minister indicated that the boys would be disturbed. The Prime Minister does not need to be over-solicitous as to the feelings the boys will have. If he had gone through the trains, sat in the smokers and maintained silence as I have done in order to hear the boys express their feelings as they sprang out of their burning hearts, he would have no anxiety about a further growing of disturbance in their hearts. That disturbance has already been created by the things they see and know.

May I turn to one aspect of the question which is perhaps at least as important. I, along with hon. members of the house who have spoken and those who have not spoken, am filled with gladness and relief on this occasion. For almost four terrible years we have endured as a British race, humiliation, apprehension, loss upon loss, and danger of further bitter loss upon loss, not only from the enemy whom we are fighting but from some who ostensibly were not our enemies. I need not be further specific; hon. members understand. Now at least we are partly prepared, and our hearts swell with gratitude.

I know all hon. members' hearts are filled with gratitude to the God who controlled the waters at Dunkirk, the God who prompted Hitler's dangerous decision not to attack when Britain was perhaps helpless at his feet, the God who caused Hitler, perhaps unwisely, to attack Russia, bringing into the conflict on our side an ally who would absorb so much of the shock. For these great things, and many others which have been less spectacular, we should bow our heads and bend our knees in the deepest and most reverent gratitude to the God who has brought our fathers through many, many crises perhaps comparable to this one.

We should not forget on this occasion to express words of gratitude to the statesmen who have done all they possibly could to help to salvage the wreck of the structures in which we as British people have reimposed our trust for our security, men who realized how desperately our nation had been sold out by someone and who tried with all their power to save something from the wreckage. I mention among those Mr. Chamberlain. Mr. Chamberlain died, I believe, of a broken heart. I have no brief for Mr. Chamberlain. He passed through tragic experiences, but he had the courage to go to Munich to undergo what he did in order to save a few precious months, during which time we had some chance of recouping our loss of fighting power. I think Mr. Chamberlain did a thing for which history will be grateful, and I believe he is entitled at least to the thanks of one weak voice in the parliament of Canada on this historic occasion.

I wish at the same tftne to give thanks to the people who have given their all in order to hold back the invader while we gathered ourselves for the fight. I think of those who stood heroically in the path of the aggressor and who by their sacrifice impeded his progress and impaired his strength. I mention Poland, Poland could have given up easily. Poland knew what she was going to suffer. Yet, did the heroes of Poland falter, or did

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hex statesmen, fail? Not for one .moment. They stood out, and did all that within their power lay. They laid on the altar their lives and their bodies, and by so doing did us a great service. Let us not for a moment forget about that great nation. And Norway must not go unhonoured1-or Denmark, or Holland or Belgium, or France which was bled white, and humbled and lowered in the dust. And little Albania, which stood courageously against Italy, is deserving of gratitude from us at this time, as is also Jugoslavia, who still fights on.. And Greeoe, who fell under the blows-utterly insupportable- but who fell fighting in a manner which will reflect even greater credit on the glorious record of Greece, despite the fact that her history is filled with glory.

Nor must we for one moment forget Great Britain. I had the privilege of being in Great Britain in the fall of 1941. Any attempt to convey an adequate appreciation of the magnificent courage of the ordinary housewife in Great Britain, not to mention the other citizens, would simply be contemptible by its inadequacy. We shall never cease to owe a debt to Great Britain for what she did in holding up the foe and absorbing the Shock of his ruthless and terrible power.

On this occasion the House of Commons, every member of it, should be filled with redoubled resolution-and I am sure they are- to redress the wrongs committed against the stricken peoples of Europe, and to redeem those stricken peoples, bind up their wounds, nourish and restore their vigour, reestablish them and set them on their feet again; give them another chance; and so that there may be rekindled in their hearts once more the fires of confidence, assurance and ambition; and so that they may express themselves in a vigorous and energetic national life through which they may make their contribution to the world. Let us convince those peoples of Europe, both by .precept and by example, that there is a way of establishing in this world security with freedom. May I point out that while at present there is talk of supranational government, international currency and stabilization schemes, we are far from giving assurance that the united nations contemplate any such way of establishing security with freedom.

Let us demand of Germany adequate guarantees that never again shall she be able to destroy the peace of man. Such guarantees will render Germany helpless-a .people of perhaps around eighty millions, helpless to defend themselves in a military sense and

helpless to defend themselves in an economic sense. Let us not forget for a moment that those people are just as proud and as sensitive and ambitious as we are. They are just as conscious of the danger which lurks around them. We must take precautions because of that. We must guarantee Germany also, in the hour of victory which is sure to come; we must guarantee to Germany freedom from want and fear.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have allowed the hon. member to discuss many matters. I must point out to him, however, that there is nothing before the Chair, except that which may be contained in the Prime Minister's statement. I would not wish any hon. member to discuss matters extraneous to that statement.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACRMORE:

On an occasion of this sort may I say I wish to treat your rulings and your opinion, sir, with all possible deference. But I submit to you

that there has never been in the House of Commons an occasion like this one, and that there is therefore no precedent setting out what an hon. member shall say on such an occasion. If in your judgment, Mr. Speaker, it is unbecoming that an hon. member on an occasion of this sort shall discuss the kind of thing which I have been discussing, things which are of vital importance to those who are conducting the war on our side, and to those who are struggling in every way to oppose us, then I shall refrain from any further remarks on this occasion.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

May I say in answer to the hon. member that there is an opportunity upon which matters of which the hon. member has spoken can be discussed. They might very well be discussed when the estimates for the Department of External Affairs are before the house. Just at this time however I think they are extraneous.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I bow to Your

Honour's ruling, and shall surely avail myself of the opportunity you have indicated.

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PRIVATE BILLS

July 12, 1943