Canada comes of age
Militarily Canada had little, compared with the European powers. Other than sending a small contingent to fight in South Africa in the Boer War, the country had limited military experience. It had a small regular Army of 3,110 men. Perhaps 65,000 to 70,000 others had received some basic training in local militia units. There were few serviceable modern guns and rifles, and other equipment was almost non-existent. There was also a serious shortage of trained officers. As for the navy, it possessed from Britain, only one of which was seaworthy in 1914, and a total of 350 men.
Some modernization had taken place under the Defence Minister, Sir Frederick Borden, with the building of a new armouries and rifle ranges, the establishment of a military base at Petawawa and the creation of a small general staff. Most importantly, a War Book of plans for every government department in the event of hostilities had been created and mobilization arrangements were put in place.
In September 1915 the Canadian Second division moved to France, and the Canadian Corps was formed under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Edwin Alderson, who had previously commanded the First Division. It was the insistence of the Canadian government which brought this national force into being. The Canadian Corps spent the autumn and winter in atrocious conditions on the Flanders front, in trenches which were little more then mud-filled ditches, often standing in thigh-deep water, plagued by trench feet, rats, lice, and pneumonia. Constant sleet, snow and biting winds increased the Canadian's misery.
Vimy Ridge soldiers Preparing for battle
The Attack takes place
Follow up and fall out of the battle
Lest we forget
Lest we forget