The Science of War

The Science of War: Canadian Scientists and Allied Military Technology during the Second World War

DONALD H. AVERY
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442682313
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  • Book Info
    The Science of War
    Book Description:

    The Science of War provides both a cross-disciplinary overview of the scientific and military activity during the Second World War in several countries and a fascinating analysis of what the author calls ?Big Science? in Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8231-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    On 24 March 1947, the American defence scientist Vannevar Bush wrote C.J. Mackenzie, president of the Canadian National Research Council (NRC), congratulating him for being awarded the Medal of Merit of the United States for his accomplishments during the Second World War. ′One of my fine memories of the war period/ Bush stated, ′lies in our association ... [and] I hope and trust that the years to come will see closer and closer interchange between our two countries on every matter in which we have common concern/ In his reply, Mackenzie was equally complimentary: ′I have appreciated the many courtesies...

  6. 1 Canadaʹs Defence Scientists: Organizing for War, 1938-1940
    (pp. 14-40)

    Canadian defence science was virtually nonexistent during the interwar years, since the Department of National Defence (DND) had neither the scientific personnel nor the financial resources to undertake even rudimentary investigations of weapons systems. The NRC, given its own underfunding, was unable to provide much assistance to the DND, at least until after 1935, when General A.G.L. McNaughton became president. This meant that the Canadian armed forces were almost totally dependent on data and equipment that the British government, usually through the Committee of Imperial Defence, decided to share with its dominions.

    During the 1930s Canadians were adversely affected by...

  7. 2 Building the Defence Science Alliance, 1940-1943
    (pp. 41-67)

    Defence science cooperation within the North Atlantic triangle began well before the United States formally became a belligerent. The primary motivation for such cooperation was fear of Nazi Germany. In June 1940 the possibility of military defeat forced the British government to seek assistance from the United States and to call on its major military ally, Canada, to make every possible sacrifice to save the mother country. The scope and character of defence science cooperation among the three countries would, however, change dramatically during the next two years as the United States gradually became the dominant partner both militarily and...

  8. 3 Radar Research and Allied Cooperation, 1940-1945
    (pp. 68-95)

    From 1941 to 1945 Canada′s defence science was conducted within the framework of alliance warfare, and characterized by increased quality control and long-term planning. Most weapons programs were now in place, and were advancing from the experimental to the production and operational stages. From his position as acting president of the NRC, C.J. Mackenzie remained the key coordinator between university scientists, the Armed Forces, the industrial sector, and Canada′s allies. Another integral part of his job was negotiating with British defence planners, which allowed him to appreciate major changes in the dynamics of alliance warfare that occurred after Pearl Harbor,...

  9. 4 Weapons Systems: Proximity Fuses and RDX
    (pp. 96-121)

    The year 1942 was a difficult one for Canada′s military planners and political leaders, since most of the Allied campaigns against German and Japanese forces went badly. In addition, the military debacles at Hong Kong and Dieppe had a negative impact on the Canadian war effort, reinforcing an image of government ineptitude. To make things worse, the Liberal Cabinet was seriously divided over the issue of imposing conscription for overseas service.

    On the positive side, Canada′s wartime economy was booming. The Department of Munitions and Supply, under C.D. Howe′s direction, was overseeing the production of vast quantities of munitions, small...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 Chemical Warfare Planning, 1939-1945
    (pp. 122-150)

    In the 1915 Battle of Ypres Canadian troops were among the first to face the poison gas of the Germans. This experience was instrumental in Canada′s decision to support the 1925 Geneva Protocol ban on the use of chemical and bacteriological weapons. What Canada ratified, however, was essentially a ′no-first-use′ treaty in which every nation retained the right to use chemical weapons in a defensive or retaliatory situation.

    The late 1930s witnessed considerable public debate in Britain and in Canada about the threat of poison gas. This was reflected in the publication of such books as Breathe Freely! The Truth...

  12. 6 Canadian Biological and Toxin Warfare Research: Development and Planning, 1939-1945
    (pp. 151-175)

    Canada′s chemical warfare and biological and toxin warfare (BTW) activities between 1939 and 1945 were guided by the National Research Council and the Army′s Directorate of Chemical Warfare and Smoke (DCW&S). Both projects involved the participation of Canadian scientists in developing potentially deadly weapons of mass destruction. However, unlike most poison gas developments, biological warfare research was secret and hidden, its practitioners shadowy and selfconscious. Most were medical researchers who were committed to saving, not taking, lives, but whose weapons included some of the world′s most lethal diseases: bubonic plague, typhus, typhoid, yellow fever, tularaemia, brucellosis, anthrax, and the deadly...

  13. 7 Atomic Research: The Montreal Laboratory, 1942-1946
    (pp. 176-202)

    Canada′s involvement in the development of nuclear weapons was a further manifestation of its wartime alliance with Great Britain and the United States. It also reflected the enormous changes that occurred in the nuclear field in these years. Under the pressures of war, atomic research rapidly progressed from the laboratory fission experiments of Otto Harm′s German scientific team in December 1938 to the first atomic bomb tests in New Mexico on 16 July 1945. While innovative research was carried out by scientists in Great Britain, aided by the Tree French′ contingent under Hans von Halban, only the United States had...

  14. 8 Secrets, Security, and Spies, 1939-1945
    (pp. 203-227)

    Attempts to assess the effectiveness of the efforts of Canada′s Armed Forces and the NRC to protect their scientific secrets have been impeded because much of the relevant documentation has not yet been released. Most studies of this subject have had to rely on the documents and testimony of Soviet defector Igor Gouzenko, which covered only the last three months of the war.¹ In addition, most of the relevant Canadian and British security records remain closed.² Still, the fragmentary evidence suggests certain patterns. One of these was the lack of systematic office, laboratory, and factory security procedures to prevent the...

  15. 9 Scientists, National Security, and the Cold War
    (pp. 228-255)

    In the early morning of 15 February 1946, twelve Canadian public servants were arrested in their homes under the authority of the War Measures Act.¹ The charge: violation of Canada′s Official Secrets Act. That same day the Royal Commission on Espionage, headed by Supreme Court judges R.L. Kellock and Robert Taschereau, began its public hearings. By the end of June the inquiry was complete.² Twenty-two Canadians, including seven scientists, were accused of spying for the Russians; eleven would later be sent to jail.

    Between September 1945, when the federal government began its own inquiry into Soviet espionage, and June 1946,...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 256-266)

    During the Second World War Canada was involved in an epic struggle against Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and imperial Japan, and for the second time in the twentieth century, the country was forced to commit itself to total war. Between 1939 and 1945 millions of Canadians served either in the Armed Forces or in the war economy. Others, as this study has outlined, made unique contributions through their involvement in Canada′s scientific war, which was carried out in conjunction with the country′s primary wartime allies: Great Britain and the United States. Within the context of alliance warfare, the role Canadian...

  17. Appendix 1: Major Military, Political, and Scientific Events
    (pp. 267-271)
  18. Appendix 2: Brief Biographical Sketches
    (pp. 272-280)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 281-366)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 367-386)
  21. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 387-388)
  22. Index
    (pp. 389-406)