Second World War: Canadian Army Show, First Canadian Army, North West Europe, 1944-1945

First Canadian Army in North West Europe 1944-1945

Entertainers

6x Detachments of the Canadian Army Show

The Army Show was initially a musical revue produced during the Second World War for the Canadian Army, and later the operational name for entertainment units serving with the army. Through the perseverance of Brig James Mess, the Dept of National Defence sanctioned the creation of a radio series produced in Montreal by Rai Purdy and known generally as the 'Canadian Army Radio Show'. It was broadcast weekly by the CBC from 13 Dec 1942 until 5 Sep 1943. Among the cast were the comedians Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster (who wrote much of the material), and the singer Jimmie Shields and Raymonde Maranda. The orchestra and chorus were conducted by Geoffrey Waddinton. The radio show's success prompted the creation of a touring stage version to entertain the troops, to promote recruitment by enhancing the army's image, to increase the sale of war bonds, and to bolster civilian morale.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3596554)

Personnel of the Canadian Army Show loading equipment into a truck, Guildford, England, 21 June 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3191720)

Sergeant Johnny Wayne and Staff-Sergeant Frank Shuster of the Canadian Army Show relaxing before a performance of their comedy show for personnel of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division.  Work on the touring show began during the winter of 1943 in Toronto. Wayne and Shuster wrote most of the skits, lyrics and music, the last in collaboration with RobertFarnon who, as music director, was responsible for all arrangements and orchestrations.  The Dept of National Defence decided to split the troupe into five units to be sent overseas, two as musical revues and three as variety groups. The five units reached England 21 Dec 1943 and there became part of the Canadian Auxiliary Services Entertainment Unit, with Rai Purdy as commanding officer.  Stationed first at Aldershot and then at Guildford, these units entertained the troops throughout Britain and, after the 1944 Allied invasion of western Europe, at the front lines in Holland, France, Belgium, and Germany.  After the Allied victory in Europe, units entertained troops awaiting repatriation and serving as occupation forces. A new show called Rhythm Rodeo was presented outside London in a gigantic tent before some 5000 service personnel. More than 20 entertainment units generically known as 'The Army Show' remained on active duty until 1947.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3212114)

Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster performing in a CBC radio broadcast of The Army Show, 21 January 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3223296)

Captain S.C. Ritchie of Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) and engineer Betty Gates in the control room during a Canadian Army Show recording session, London, England, 29 June 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3222909)

Private Joan Dallas of the Canadian Army Show performing during the Army Show Broadcast, London, England, 29 June 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3210826)

Lieutenant Verity Sweeny adjusting the gown of singer Mary Leonard of the Canadian Army Show, Guildford, England, 21 June 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3201630)

Members of the Bandoliers unit of the Canadian Army Show entertaining personnel of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division in a barn near Udem, Germany, 8 March 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3222907)

The string section of the orchestra during the Canadian Army Show Broadcast, London, England, 29 June 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3222785)

Musicians of the Canadian Army Show, England, 7 April 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3204117)

Pianist Allan Carmichael of No. 11 Detachment of the Canadian Army Show during a recording session at Station BLA3, Oldenburg, Germany, 12 June 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3942432)

Cast of the Canadian Army Show, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4232496)

Cast of the Canadian Army Show, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4232515)

Cast of the Canadian Army Show, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4232856)

Cast of the Canadian Army Show, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4232512)

Cast of the Canadian Army Show, 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3212113)

Chorus and orchestra taking part in a CBC radio broadcast of The Army Show, 21 January 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3212119)

Conductor leading orchestra during a CBC radio broadcast of The Army Show, 21 January 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3942432)

Club Ravenna, Utrecht - Special concert by Yehudi Menuhin for Canadian Troops - Famous violinist stops to talk to five CWACs who attended his performance - Left to right - Pte. Dorien Myllard, St. Thomas, Ontario; Pte. Margaret Cross, Lethbridge, Alberta; Pte. Margaret Toth, Flin Flon, Manitoba; Yehudi Menuhin; Pte. Bernice O'Donnell of Toronto; Pte. Ruth Aird of Sudbury, Ontario. The CWACs were with the No. 12 Detachment Canadian Army Shows, called "Fun Fatigues", 4 July 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3222781)

Entertainers of the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) "Rise And Shine" show in their caravan, Ortona, Italy, 3 February 1944.