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Mackenzie King on D-Day: ‘We have every reason for confidence’

The Story

Mackenzie King has led Canadians through the darkest days of the Second World War. But it's only for momentous developments in the war that the prime minister addresses the country by radio -- and D-Day definitely counts as momentous. On a day when the country is especially anxious for news from overseas, King describes the invasion as "the opening of what we hope and believe will be the decisive phase of the war against Germany." King also warns that the fighting will be "heavy, bitter and costly" and that Canadians should be prepared for reverses as well as successes. He repeats the encouraging words of the Canadian general H.D.G. Crerar, and finishes by asking citizens at home to do their part. "Let the hearts of all in Canada today be filled with silent prayer for the success of our own and allied forces and for the early liberation of the people of Europe."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC War Recordings
Broadcast Date: June 6, 1944
Guest(s): William Lyon Mackenzie King
Duration: 2:38
Photo: Laurie A. Audrain / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / National Archives of Canada / PA-152440

Did You know?

• According to the Toronto Daily Star, King was the only person in Canada who knew in advance "the day for which this nation has been feverishly preparing since the first day of the war." The report added: "The Canadian prime minister retired for a night of fitfully snatched, brief periods of rest, knowing that before morning official news of the invasion would be received here."

• King's address was made from a local CBC studio in Ottawa at about 8 a.m. Eastern Time.

• Reaction to D-Day in Canada was swift. Church bells rang to herald the invasion and call people to prayer. The Toronto Daily Star reported that so many people flocked to a prayer meeting at Toronto City Hall that traffic was disrupted.

• Loudspeakers were set up in factories to inform workers of developments in the invasion.

• Horse racing at King's Park track in Montreal and many U.S. tracks was cancelled for the day.

• Upon hearing the news, Dieppe veteran George Young said: "This invasion is the real thing -- a steam roller attack compared with the experiment we had. The hardest part of any raid is getting on the enemy's shore but from reports I've heard I guess the chaps this time made a job of it."

• All the Canadians participating in combat operations on D-Day were men who had volunteered for the military. Prime Minister Mackenzie King was reluctant to introduce conscription (mandatory military duty) for overseas service because it was opposed in Quebec.

• In November 1944, King announced that conscripts would be sent overseas. About 13,000 went in December that year.


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