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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cinderella Army – the Canadians in Northwest Europe 1944-1945 by Terry Copp

35. - 594.) Cinderella Army – the Canadians in Northwest Europe 1944-1945 by Terry Copp – The Canadian Army in Northwest Europe after the D-Day invasion carries the weight of perceptions that it underperformed, was slow in achieving objectives and of limited assistance in achieving victory.
Continuing the history he commenced with Fields of Fire about the Normandy campaign Copps carefully describes and assesses the army’s performance for the rest of the war.
           After the breakout from Normandy at the end of August the army was on the northwest flank of the Allied armies for the balance of the war.
Tasked to clear the Channel Ports they faced fortified cities in Boulogne and Calais. There was no easy way to take the cities. Copp describes the attacks as examples of modern siege warfare.
After clearing the area of the Channel they turned to the Breskens Pocket, the fortified German held area on the West bank of the Scheldt. The river had to be controlled to allow access to the huge port of Antwerp.
The Canadian soldiers faced a miserable campaign in wet weather with most of the area deliberately flooded. There was no room to manoeuvre. There was no way take the area except through methodical moves forward. Only a huge increase in manpower could have sped the process.
When the west side was secured the Canadians turned to the East side attacking Beveland and Walcheren Island. Once again they were dealing with fortified positions in flooded country.
An amphibious assault on the Island brought to a conclusion the grinding campaign.
       Through the clearing of the Scheldt the Canadians were essentially functioning with the minimum number of soldiers needed. 
It is hard not to reflect on the Canadian lives lost because Montgomery did not make clearing the Scheldt to Antwerp a priority over his thrust to the Rhine at Arnhem. From the front line private to Eisenhower all knew they needed a port and they had it in Antwerp but Mongomery’s decision meant it was unusable for a much longer time. 
Later the Canadians fought again in the wet soggy Rhineland eventually pushing the German Army further east. When they were not trying to go through flooded country they were battling in forest. They ended the war liberating the Netherlands.
From Normandy to the Netherlands the Canadians were assigned gritty difficult tasks. They had no opportunity to break through and sweep across countryside. They fought on flooded landscapes against dug in opposition. It was a striking contrast to the end of World War I when Canadians led the advance moving swiftly forward. I could not help wondering what would have happened if the Canadian Army had been given orders which gave it open countryside to forge ahead in battle.
It was striking how crucial the artillery was to every Canadian advance. While armour was useful it was the artillery which made attacks successful. 
I had not realized before this book of the importance of the flame throwing Churchill Crocodile tanks and WASP universal carriers. 
It appeared the Canadian Army did its best with the resources available and the limited priority given their assignments. More replacements would have helped but it is hard to see how full strength formations could have significantly quickened the pace. The Canadian Army’s sharp end kept being blunted by the terrain and the enemy.


      When I grew up on the farm at Meskanaw our nearest neighbours were the Colemans. Roland Drever, the brother of Tannis Coleman, was a part of the Cinderella Army. He was a rifleman in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the Normandy campaign. He was killed on August 27, 1944 in France in the vicinity of the Seine. His brigade successfully crossed the Seine that day. Roland is buried at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery and his Grave Reference is XXIII. H. 2. Our province, Saskatchewan, has named geographical features after our war dead. Drever Island in Reindeer Lake is named after Roland. Every year until her death Tannis, to honour her brother, would attend the Remembrance Day services each November 11 in Kinistino and the Legion supper that night. My father, Hans, and Roland were each born in 1911. 100 years have passed since their births.


  1. Thank you for sharing a story which was definitely new for me.

  2. Dorte: Thank you for the comment. The book has a strong personal connection for me.

  3. Bill - I'm always fascinating by history, especially the history behind the history, so to speak. Thanks for sharing this book.

  4. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I believe we always need to remember history is made by people like ourselves.