ADMIRAL R.H. FALLS, CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE STAFF Speech for the official opening of the
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON MILITARY HISTORY, 22 AUGUST, 1978
General Gambiez, Dr. Ahslund, distinguished members of the Interna- tional Commission of Military History, Ladies and Gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Ottawa. The activities of the International Commis- sion of Military History have been increasingly impressive in recent years, your discussions seem to be both interesting and worthwhile, and you honour us with your presence. Building up international links between members of the scholarly community has never, in my view, been more necessary than it is today. At Stockholm in 1973, at Montpellier and Sandhurst in 1974, at Washington in 1975 and at Teheran in 1976, I understand that Canadian military historians have enjoyed some of the benefits of this experience. Not only do such meetings pro- vide opportunities to exchange views and establish friendships with historians from many nations working in the same field, but the publication of your pro- ceedings and the creation of a bibliography committee are tangible signs of your determination to accelerate the advancement of knowledge in military history.
I should like to take this opportunity to endorse the importance of your work. We are very much aware in the Canadian Armed Forces of the necessity to record and understand history. It is only in the last 65 years that our country has built up significant armed forces, and in that short period we have gone through a series of astonishing national experiences. We have mobilized our resources for two European wars that expanded into virtually world-wide con- flicts. We have twice transformed our army from a small militia into an effective professional combat force, once between 1914 and 1918, and once between 1939 and 1945. We brought into existence in 1910 a navy that expanded in the Second World War from six destroyers and five minesweepers to nearly 400 fighting ships. About 25,000 Canadians served with the British services in the First World War, but not until 1924 did the Royal Canadian Air Force come into be- ing. It expanded from about 1,000 to 220,000 men between 1939 and 1945. When it is realized that from a total population of less than twelve million be- tween 1939 and 1945, over a million men and women were in uniform and an- other million or more served in essential industries, it will be seen that the im- pact of war upon Canada has been profound.
Since 1945 we have of course reduced the size of our armed forces, but we have taken part in many international military activities. We have also under- gone a process of unification in the military that itself is not without historical interest. As an Admiral holding the appointment of Chief of the Defence Staff, reporting to my minister and to parliament on fighter aircraft and tanks as much as I do on ships, concerned with every facet of Canadian defence responsibili-