Role in WW2
Main article: Dominion of Newfoundland § Second World War
During World War II the Dominion of Newfoundland was governed directly by the United Kingdom. It joined the war on 4 September 1939, declaring war on Germany. The defenses of Newfoundland, and the Newfoundland Home Guard forces were integrated with the Canadian military, and both governments agreed to form a joint coastal defense organization. As part of the Anglo-American Destroyers for Bases Agreement, the United States was granted Air Force and U.S. Navy bases on Newfoundland's territory.
Newfoundlanders were encouraged to enlist in the large armed forces of the United Kingdom and of Canada. Over 3,200 Newfoundlanders enlisted in the Royal Navy. On 14 September 1939, The Royal Navy requested 625 experienced fishermen or seamen for special service in the Northern Patrol, guarding the Atlantic shipping lanes.
The Royal Artillery raised the 57th Newfoundland Field Regiment, which fought in North Africa and Italy, and the 59th Newfoundland Heavy Artillery, which fought in Normandy and northwestern Europe. Another 700 Newfoundlanders served in the Royal Air Force, most notably with the 125th Newfoundland Squadron. In all, some 15,000 Newfoundlanders saw active service, and thousands more were engaged in the hazardous duty of the Merchant Navy. Some 900 Newfoundlanders (including at least 257 Merchant Mariners) lost their lives in the conflict.
Newfoundland might have been the only location in North America under direct attack by German forces when U-boats attacked four Allied ore carriers and the loading pier at Bell Island. The cargo ships S.S. Saganaga and S.S. Lord Strathcona were sunk by the German submarine U-513 on 5 September 1942, and the S.S. Rosecastle and P.L.M. 27 were sunk by the German submarine U-518 on 2 November 1942.
However, Allied ships were sunk within sight of the North American shoreline (inside the territorial waters), and teams of German saboteurs landed via U-boats in New York State and in Florida. Also, German troops were landed on Greenland and Labrador, Newfoundland to establish weather stations.