World War II

Ron Laidlaw's Keepsakes

Ron Laidlaw, longtime resident of London, Ontario, was a war photographer with the RCAF during the Second World War. He was, allegedly, the first Allied photographer to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and among the first to enter the newly liberated city of Paris. He brought back with him a collection of Nazi artifacts and Adolf Hitler collector cards, as well as official photos that he took in England, France, Holland, and Germany. The postwar material includes two scrapbooks, one detailing his retirement from CFPL Television in 1987 and the other his trip for the fiftieth anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1995, his war medals, cuff-links given to Laidlaw by the Masons, and cigarette holders. After the war, Laidlaw returned to his position at the London Free Press until an opportunity arose to launch a new TV station, CFPL. He was the station's only news director until his retirement in 1987.

Do You Want to Return Home Safe?

This leaflet advises Allied soldiers in Normandy to surrender, because they can expect pleasant treatment while imprisoned in Germany.

Life or Death?

Allied soldiers who surrendered to German troops in Normandy could send a radio message home to their families - or so this leaflet promised.

When You Left Your Wife

"These Germans are damned good soldiers" - so this propaganda leaflet advised Allied soldiers to write home right away, for they might not live to have another chance.

It's a Nigth-Mare!

Mary has been waiting for her husband Charlie to come home from the war, but in reality he has been torn to shreds by a shell - a cautionary tale in a German propaganda leaflet distributed to the Allied invasion forces in Normandy, one that was obviously not intended to teach spelling.

Run the Blockade of Death

This leaflet informed Allied soldiers of the casualties in the war against Germany, to encourage them to change sides.

Joe Sams' family scrapbook

Joseph Reed Sams enlisted in 1943 and fought with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. While he was at the front, his family kept a scrapbook of newspaper articles concerning the major battles in which they believed he had fought. Throughout the scrapbook are items that are more personal, such as the telegram informing the family that Sams had been wounded. Other interesting items, added after he had returned home are a Nazi badge, Sams' campaign ribbon, and a fifty-Reichsmark bill. After the war, Sams went on to become an insurance agent, and in 1963 was elected as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Wentworth, Ontario.

Army jeep Winnipeg insurance premium reminder

Pay your premium!

This Winnipeg insurance company used an image of an army jeep to remind people to pay their premiums.

"They gave their own lives"

Although this service was held after the Second World War, its content and symbols were redolent of the First.

Keeping an eye on prices

The ceiling price - the maximum price that could be charged for any good purchased - was a key element of Canada's wartime strategy to control inflation, and the government relied on shoppers to help enforce price ceilings.

To the women of Canada

Price controls constituted a major step for Canada's government of the Second World War, so Donald Gordon, the man in charge of implementing them, took every opportunity to explain the process to community groups.

Bingo for War Victims

A huge bingo game at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens in 1941 raised money for the British War Victims' Fund, organized by the Telegram. Hockey announcer Foster Hewitt was a featured guest.

View PDF: Bingo.pdf

Serve by Saving

A pamphlet advertising War Savings Certificates, a program in which civilians purchased stamps and could redeem them after the war for a higher value.

Making use of available materials

A letter home to Canada written on birch bark.

View PDF: Birch Letter.pdf

Musical Propaganda

A pamphlet sold on the home front for 25 cents with sheet music and lyrics for the song "Hitler on the Run!" by Neil MacDonald.

Behind the scenes on butter

A collection of stamps, an envelope, a letter, and a certification card regarding the production of rationed butter.

View PDF: Butter Rations.pdf

Christmas Update

A Christmas newpaper to keep the troops stationed in Aldershot, Nova Scotia informed about the events going on around the base.

Christmas in uniform

Few soldiers enjoyed being away from home at Christmas - but a proper Christmas dinner might have helped to soften the blow.

Advertising with the Admiral

Admiral Percy Nelles was Canada's Chief of Naval Staff during the Second World War - but one wonders if he gave his permission for his image to be used on this advertisement from a New Brunswick dry goods store.

Paying for the war

During the Second World War, the federal government hope to run the war on a pay-as-you-go basis - with funding provided by Canadians themselves, using instruments such as War Savings Certificates.

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