The Maple Leaf on the Western Front

Lieutenant-Colonel Dick Malone (left) helping to erect the sign at the editorial office of the Maple Leaf newspaper in Caen, July 1944. Photo: Library and Archives Canada.
Lieutenant-Colonel Dick Malone (left) helping to erect the sign at the editorial office of the Maple Leaf newspaper in Caen, July 1944. Photo: Library and Archives Canada.

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Continued from The Maple Leaf in the Mediterranean.

The second edition of The Maple Leaf was established in July 1944, a mere month after the Normandy landings and the beginning of the liberation of France. Caen, the original home of the Western edition, was still under active shell fire when the paper began operations, and the newspapermen were constantly having to dive for cover under their work tables.

Production of the Caen Maple Leaf was plagued by other troubles as well. The plant itself was primitive, and there were constant problems with the machinery of the press. Sections of the paper were printed upside down; images were misprinted, coming out as indecipherable black blobs; parts of the press broke or malfunctioned regularly. Nevertheless, for three months the printers persisted through what were widely acknowledged as the worst conditions The Maple Leaf had to endure all the length of the war.

With the advance of the Western Front, the paper moved to Brussels in September of that year. The ultra-modern plant of Le Soir was greeted with deep relief by The Maple Leaf staff; with new resources at their command, printing proceeded much more smoothly. And though conditions in Naples and Rome hadn’t been nearly so bad as Caen, the staff from the Mediterranean edition was equally pleased to move into the Brussels plant when the Italian and Western forces linked up and the editions were merged in March 1945.

It was the Brussels edition that proclaimed the end of the war in Europe with a single word—“KAPUT”—emblazoned across its whole front page, and the end of war in the Pacific with a cover reading “It’s All Over!” But the story of The Maple Leaf was not ended yet.

Continued in The Maple Leaf in London.

Information for this article has been collected from Barry D. Rowland & J. Douglas MacFarlane, The Maple Leaf Forever, Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc. (1987).

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