Researching Canada's involvement in WWII for Radio General

Started by Foolish Mortals, March 31, 2020, 02:52:57 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Foolish Mortals

Howdy. My name's Michael, and I ended up doing a ton of research into Canada's often-overlooked involvement in WWII for my upcoming RTS game Radio General. The mods recommended I do a post explaining my research methods.

Brief description of my game:
It's WWII. You're a general sitting in a tent. All you have is a map, and a radio. Can you win the battle? Radio General is a unique strategy game where you interact with your units over the radio using speech recognition. Test your mettle and relive famous battles as a WWII general.

Live-action trailer featuring real 1939 radio used in tanks

First off, a little background. I've always been an avid wargamer, but asides from a university history course I don't have any background in WWII history. Since I'm Canadian, and there's relatively few games that focus (or even mention) Canada during the war, I wanted to focus on Canada's involvement. So to start off with, I read some excellent history textbooks on the subject:

> Canadians in the Second World War 1939-1943. Volume 1, The necessary war - Tim Cook
> Canadians in the Second World War 1944-1945. Volume 2, Fight to the finish - Tim Cook

Both books are excellent, and give detailed descriptions of operations in chronological order, and were excellent material for planning missions for my game. They also included some very good interviews with solders.

> Canadians under fire: infantry effectiveness in the Second World War - Robert Charles

A drier and more technical read than the rest, this focuses less on specific battles, and instead on studies and interviews with infantrymen. It goes the effectiveness of different weapons, casualty statistics, and patrol and movement doctrines. A surprising tidbit I found was that having tank support was often unappreciated as an infantryman - they're big targets, are very hard to communicate with, and almost always refused to advance until the infantry gauranteed there were no AT-guns nearby (so much for the cinematic scenes of infantry hiding behind advancing tanks).

> Ten decisions: Canada's best, worst, and most far-reaching decisions of the Second World War - Larry Rose

This book provides a broader context, and doesn't just focus on the battles. It covers the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, where Canada trained 131,500 air personnel (with pilots from all over the commonwealth), and the enormous scope of producing massive numbers of corvettes to escort necessary naval convoys across the Atlantic. One of the worst decisions it covers in detail is the Dieppe Raid (which is in fact the first mission in Radio General).

To help us choose which missions were included in the game, we referenced the excellent website which summarizes basically every single combat mission Canada's been in.

We wanted our game to educational, and had the idea of presenting the player with real historical photos, videos and documents. Before and after each mission you're presented with relevant documents about the mission you just played.

The best source for these documents was the government, specifically Library and Archives Canada. This is a great resource, as they often include sources and context (and since it's the government, everything more than 50 years old is public domain). You can search specifically for locations. Here's some photo examples from the same location in Italy:

Private M.D. White of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment observing from a defensive position, Colle d'Anchise, Italy, 26 October 1943.

Private J.A. Robb of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment looking through a shell hole in the foundation of a building, Colle d'Anchise, Italy, 27 October 1943.

A Sherman tank of "A" Squadron, Ontario Regiment, crossing a stream near Colle d'Anchise, Italy, 26 October 1943.

Library and archives canada also has a youtube channel, containing Canadian army newsreels:
The Great Crusader - Canadian Army Newsreel, No. 33 1944

We actually used some of this archive footage in our live-action trailer.

Anyways, those are the sources we used. I'd be happy to answer any questions about our historical research.

Radio General will be available April 9, and you can check it out on Steam.

Michael Dorosh

Just as a friendly note, the 'official' title of the conflict as used in Canada is "Second World War." This is the term used in government publications and official histories. The term "World War II" is distinctively American. Both terms are "correct" and commonly used, but if you want a Canadian flavor for your project, "Second World War" would be the term to go with.

Also, Robert Engen is the author of the book on infantry effectiveness - looks like you have his first and middle names instead of his surname?

The video seems well done - though I wonder if you're aware your general is wearing the uniform of a corporal in the Regina Rifles? His ribbon bar is correct as far as the 39-43 Star and CVSM with clasp - but the France-Germany Star ribbon in the centre wasn't issued until after the war.

I appreciate the kind words about my website at - if there are any specific questions I can help you with, feel free to email me at

Good luck with the project, looks like you did find some pretty solid references. I haven't read Tim Cook's stuff on the Second World War yet, but his books on the First are excellent so I have to believe you're on solid ground here.