The Defenders (by Christopher Weicht)
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When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Canada had been at war with Germany since September 10, 1939, and the Royal Canadian Air Force had fought with distinction in the Battle of Britain.
U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt named Canada “The Aerodrome of Democracy” after it initiated the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in 1939 and began training over 130,000 allied aircrew for service in the Second World War.
Then, on June 2, 1942, when Japan launched an attack on US Navy facilities at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the United States officially appealed for Canada’s help in the defence of the besieged Alaska and its Aleutian Islands, which were under attack and partially occupied by Japanese air and naval forces.
Canada immediately sent 15 Squadrons of battle-hardened RCAF fighter and bomber reconnaissance aircraft, which fought valiantly against the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero ‘Rufe’ and Aichi ‘Jake’ seaplane fighters, as well as with the atrocious Aleutian weather which together cost many lives.
The Canadian RCAF and Army presence in this theatre of operations, together with the United States Army Air Force and naval forces, enabled the eviction of the Japanese forces by August 1943.
The Defenders tells the story of each RCAF Station or Detachment, both in Alaska and on the westernmost British Columbia coast.
Commemorating the Centennial of the RCAF: 1924 - 2024