In September 1939, just when it appeared that the end of the years of drought and depression were in sight, Canada again found itself at war. Once more Saskatchewan men and women were recruited for the armed forces and for wartime industry. Saskatchewan became a major training area for Commonwealth airmen. While the outbreak of the Second World War did not produce the same heavy demand for wheat that had occurred in 1914, there was a farm labor shortage. Many consumer items were rationed. Toward the end of the war, Saskatchewan elected the first socialist government in Canada. When the citizen armed forces were disbanded after the war, Saskatchewan's men and women returned to a province that had emerged from the depression with a buoyant, expanding economy.
Kerrobert Citizen, 13 September 1939.
On 10 September 1939, the Canadian Parliament,
in an emergency session, independently declared war on Germany, and
Saskatchewan was soon deeply involved in the Canadian war effort.
Practice-firing with a bren gun, place and date unknown. The light machine gun was an important infantry weapon, and the bren gun became familiar to thousands of Canadian soldiers.
Winter training exercise, Dundurn, 1941.
In preparation for possible winter warfare, some troops underwent
special training in the use of skis and camouflage.
A graduation ceremony of Number Five
Bombing and Gunnery School, Dafoe, 1941.
Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan signed in 1939, Canada agreed to train air crews from Commonwealth countries. Because of its open prairie landscape, Saskatchewan became an important training center, with fifteen schools throughout the province. Training was provided for pilots, observers, navigators, wireless operators, bombardiers and air gunners.
Mechanics in front of a Tiger Moth training aircraft,
Number Six Elementary Flying Training School,
Prince Albert, 1940.
Assembling guns, Regina Industries Limited,
While Saskatchewan possessed limited industrial capacity many of its manufacturing plants were involved in war production. Regina Industries, a former General Motors plant, eventually had a staff of 600 employed in the manufacture of guns and gun parts.
Flight eighteen, wireless trainees,
Saskatoon Technical Collegiate Institute,
Men of the Saskatoon Light Infantry (M.G.),
United Kingdom, about 1941.
The tableau depicted basic human freedoms proclaimed by the United Nations. The parade and tableau exhibition were intended to awaken the citizens' sense of financial obligation in supporting the men who were fighting overseas to maintain these principles..
Rationing was a part of wartime life at home.
During the period immediately before 16 June 1944, the Third Canadian Infantry Division, which included the Regina Rifles, was engaged in the heavy fighting west of Caen, France. D-Day (6 June 1944) and the lighting in Normandy were the prelude to the massive land battles which led to the liberation of western Europe by Allied troops. Saskatchewan members of the Canadian armed forces elected three representatives to the Legislative Assembly in a special Active Service vote held in October 1944.
"Victory in Europe":
George Baker with the Regina Leader-Post Extra,
7 May, 1945.
The South Saskatchewan Regiment returns home to Weyburn,
24 November 1945.
The train was due to arrive at Weyburn at 10.30 hours and by that time a last polish had been given to all brass and leather, ready for the last parade. The train pulled into the station where thousands of cheering people voiced their welcome. After arrival, one half hour was allowed for hellos to wives, sweethearts and families, before the regiment fell in for the big parade. The March Past was led by the S. Sask. R.'s own band under Sgt. Munday, through 15,000 wildly shouting, cheering crowds, through streets hung with banners, decorated store windows and lamp-posts with placards of the regiment's battles, to the Canadian Legion Hall where the Salute was taken by Mayor Joe Warren.
Lt. CoL G. B. Buchanan,
The March of the Prairie Men.
Victory in Europe, Navy Day,
Dinsmore, 14 June, 1945.
Combining on the farm of J.B. Francis,
Sedly, August, 1949.
Peace in 1945 marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. Saskatchewan men and women who had served throughout the world in the armed forces and who had survived the horrors of war returned to a province that had emerged from the economic depression of the thirties. Changing economic conditions, large-scale mechanized farming, new technologies and industries, modern patterns of transportation, increased urbanization, and new social concepts changed the face of Saskatchewan as it had been known by previous generations. The story of post-war development remains to be told, but the self-propelled combine symbolizes many of the features of the new era which began in 1945.