June 18th, 2024

Not just luck: How the Allies won the war

By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on November 9, 2022.

Herald photo by Justin Seward Historian Stephane Guevremont speaks on "How the Allies Won the War" during a presentation at the Galt Museum.

Historian Stéphane Guevremont stopped by the Galt Museum recently for a lecture on “How the Allies Won the War.”

He explored the key Second World War turning points and reasons that enabled the Allies to defeat the Axis Powers.

“How close we came to losing at the beginning, it was crucial,” said Guevremont. “If he (Hitler) had not stopped the tanks at Dunkirk, if he had continued the attacks on the British airfields, maybe England would have fallen. I think it was clear the importance of England or the reconquest of Europe.”

Furthermore, he discussed the discovery of the amazing mobilization of all resources for total war, the surprising Soviet resistance, Western air power and technology and the various German blunders.

“The American industrial power, (Winston) Churchill’s role in the early part of the war, the Russian transformation that helped them fight off the Nazi invasion and how they ground (down) the Germans until the end and I’m going to talk about technology,” said Guevremont. “How we also won the war with technology, technical improvements – including the famous code-breaking operation called Ultra. There will be a small focus on the Canadians, who were a part of that training process for the entire empire here.”

Ultra was an Allied decoding operation in June 1941 that was the British term for higher than ‘most secret’ Axis intelligence and was sourced through encrypted radio messages.

The presentation went through the turning points of the war at Stalingrad, El Alamein and Midway.

“Stalingrad crippled the German army for good, Midway stopped the Japanese offensive – they were on the defensive for the next three years – and then El Alamein destroyed another German army that could have been saved and used to fight in Europe instead,” he said.

A highlight of the presentation was Operation Fish, the shipment of all the European gold to Canada at the beginning of the war, preventing it from falling into Nazi hands in occupied Europe.

“So we shipped $250 billion worth in today’s US dollars of gold and securities, so we could continue to buy armaments in the United States in the first vital two years of the war,” said Guevremont. “And that gold was stored at the Bank of Canada vault in Ottawa, which was now at that time the second highest deposit of gold after Fort Knox. And people don’t know the securities went to the Sunlife building in Montreal.”

Guevremont used a multimedia presentation of rare combat footage, paintings, photos and Dr. Seuss cartoons.

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