In his controversial and award-winning 2003 book Fields of Fire, Terry Copp offered a stunning reversal of accepted military history, challenging the conventional view that the Canadian contribution to the Battle of Normandy was a failure. Cinderella Army continues the story of the operations carried out by the First Canadian Army in the last nine months of the war, and extends the argument developed in Fields of Fire that .the achievement of the Allied and especially the Canadian armies... has been greatly underrated while the effectiveness of the German army has been greatly exaggerated.. Copp supports this argument with research conducted on numerous trips to the battlefields of France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. His detailed knowledge of the battlefield terrain, along with contemporary maps and air photos, allows Copp to explore the defensive positions that Canadian soldiers were required to overcome, and to illustrate how impressive their achievements truly were.
Except for a brief period during the Rhineland battle, the First Canadian Army was the smallest to serve under Eisenhower's command. The Canadian component of that Army never totalled more that 185,000 of the four million Allied troops serving in Northwest Europe. It is, however, evident that the divisions of 2nd Canadian Corps played a role disproportionate to their numbers. Their contribution to operations designed to secure the Channel Ports and open the approaches to Antwerp together with the battles in the Rhineland place them among the most heavily committed and sorely tried divisions in the Allied armies. By the end of 1944 3rd Canadian Division had suffered the highest number of casualties in 21 Army Group with 2nd Canadian Division ranking a close second. Among armoured divisions, 4th Canadian was at the top of the list as was 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade among the independent tank brigades. Overall Canadian casualties were twenty percent higher than in comparable British formations. This was a direct result of the much greater number of days that Canadian units were involved in close combat.
As passionately written and compellingly argued as its precursor, Cinderella Army is both an important bookend to Copp's earlier work, and stands on its own as a significant contribution to Canadian military history.
In their 'Canada Weapons of War' series this booklet covers a little known topic, the Coastal Artillery placed along the Canadian coast (sorry, an obvious statement I know) during WW2 to defend against the possibility of an attack by the Japanese. Looking back and knowing the history of the war it may seem to have been unlikely, but at the time it would have been a real concern. The result was a succession of gun emplacements located in potential target areas up and down this long coastline.
The guns varied from lighter AA weapons to heavier coastal artillery such as the 9.2 inch guns, and going purely from the photos included, they all appear to have been in open emplacements, though roofed observation positions were used along with them.
The booklet is essentially a wartime report by Major Nicholson as a historical report but it has been edited for a modern audience. It makes for some interesting reading and explores the background to decisions of what guns were sited where and why different size weapons were chosen appropriate to the risk. Today it is what we would consider a basic Risk Assessment and providing solutions appropriate to the risk and as far as resources allowed. In the end of course there were no direct attacks so these defences were not put to the test of combat but it makes for some interesting reading on a little know subject of WW2.