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Preface

Maurice F. V. Doll

For King and CountryCopyright © 1995 Provincial Museum of Alberta
Edited by Ken Tingley
364 pages - Over 166 B&W photos, foreword, preface, acknowledgements and individual article footnotes and bibliographies,
8 1/2'' x 11 1/2'', out of print, ISBN 1-895073-81-2.

Nineteen ninety-five marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Looking back over the past five decades, we can trace important aspects of political geography, modern economics, and popular culture to this cataclysmic event. It is in the life experience of our most recently retired generation, however, that the memory and influence of that global conflict is most vivid. Almost without exception, the war provided the context and was a touchstone for all which followed in their lives.

The cover of this book is illustrated with a special painting by renowned military artist and Albertan, Ronald Volstad. It depicts Canadian men and women in Second World War uniform serving in land, sea, and air forces and as nursing sisters. The painting is based on Charles Comfort's design for the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and is an image quite familiar to all Canadian veterans who volunteered for Second World War service. However, this image may not be as familiar to new Canadians, or to the two generations of Albertans born after the war who now make up 80 per cent of the province's population.

The painting introduces the Provincial Museum of Alberta's travelling commemorative exhibit For King and Country: Alberta in the Second World War and reinforces the theme of volunteer service. The scope of this exhibit goes beyond that of other commemorative projects in Canada and presents a particularly Albertan perspective. The exhibit and this complementary publication are an attempt to focus equally upon overseas service and that on the homefront. They examine the experiences of thousands of men and women in the Army, Navy and Air Forces, and of the thousands of civilians who backed them up at home.

Though the war was global in nature, our response to it was typically Canadian and in certain instances, uniquely Albertan. The book explores Canadian active service overseas, and contributions made by Albertans in the Battle of the Atlantic, in the air war, and in the campaigns in Italy and northwestern Europe. This is balanced by homefront activities centring on the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the role of Alberta women in the war and the strong American presence in Alberta with the building of the Alaska Highway, the Northwest Staging Route, and the Canol Pipeline. In addition, alternative views of the war are presented in terms of the experience of Japanese-Canadian internees, German POWs, and those of a uniquely Albertan war-time organization, the Veterans Volunteer Reserve.

This publication from the outset was designed to complement the exhibit. While it mirrors the exhibit, it expands beyond and introduces several more themes which could not be satisfactorily dealt with in an exhibition format. Ken Tingley, our editor, must be congratulated for his diligent work in pulling together in only six short months a publication which met all the demands made of him. It is a work of which we are proud and which, I am sure, will have a useful life well beyond the four years scheduled for the travelling exhibition.

This publication lets us hear the voices of the participants, be they Second World War veterans recounting their personal experiences or more contemporary historians presenting a more detached account. Ideally, we would prefer to have added more voices to the chorus, both in the exhibit and in this publication. We were naturally limited to the artifacts at hand and, in the case of this publication, to the availability of authors kind enough to volunteer articles upon extremely short notice.

Veterans are already aware of the influence the war had on their lives, but it is hoped that for the rest of us born later, the impact of the war will not be forgotten.


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