Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
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Glossary

Select a letter to browse an alphabetical listing of terms and definitions.

Airborne

Troops transported by air. An idea entertained when the hot-air balloon was invented in the late 18th century, it came under serious consideration with the invention of the parachute and the advent of passenger planes in the 1920s. The first parachute airborne unites were formed by the Soviet Union in 1932. The Germans followed suit in 1936, the French in 1937, the Italians in 1938, and the Japanese, British and Americans in 1940. In 1940-41, German paratroopers participated in successful operations in Europe, and Japanese paratroopers were used in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1942. Canada formed its first parachute troops in 1942 and its 1st Parachute Battalion became part of the British 6th Airborne Division in 1943. Canada was a primary location for paratrooper training during World War II and parachuting has remained a popular skill for Canadian servicemen, identifiable by the parachute's wings badge.

Aircraft carrier

Ship that carries and serves as a base for aircraft. First appearing in the 1920s and 1930s, the ability of aircraft carriers to launch air attacks outside the range of land-based aircraft made them an important part of a fleet. This meant the demise of the battleship, as demonstrated in 1941 when the Bismarck was disabled in the North Atlantic by planes from HMS Ark Royal, the highly successful Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbour and the Battle of Midway where a few American aircraft carriers prevailed over a large Japanese fleet. Small aircraft carriers, called escort carriers, were used to provide air cover against submarines during World War II. The first aircraft carriers manned by Canadians were HMS Nabob and HMS Puncher, loaned to the British Royal Navy by the United States and outfitted primarily with crews from the Royal Canadian Navy. From 1946 to 1969, the RCN had an aircraft carrier in its strength: HMCS Warrior (1946-1948), HMCS Magnificent (1948-1957) and HMCS Bonaventure (1957-1969).

Airman/Airwoman

Person serving in the air forces, of any rank and in any capacity.

Alaska Highway

Overland road built in 1942 as a supply line linking the USA and southern Canada to Alaska, in response to Japan's occupation of the Aleutian Islands earlier that year, which threatened west coast shipping. For this reason, and because Alaska was the northern flank of British Columbia and the Yukon, Canada agreed to the construction of the road. Over a nine month period, some 11,000 American troops and 16,000 US and Canadian civilian workers, with approximately 7,000 construction vehicles of all sorts, conquered wilderness, mosquitoes and permafrost bogs to build the 1,523 mile (2,451 km) highway. The corridor to Alaska was administered by the US forces during for the duration of the war, requiring a pass issued by American authorities for anyone travelling on it. The highway was turned over to the Canadian Army in 1946 and remained a military responsibility until 1964. It has since fostered considerable trade and tourism for northern areas.

Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF)

Official title of the Allied armies in the Second World War, including the 1st Canadian Army that invaded France and Northwest Europe in 1944-1945.