DETAILED HISTORY
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103rd Regiment 1910-21
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10th Battalion 1914-19
History
St. Julien

 Apr 1915

Festubert

 May 1915

Thiepval/Courcelette

Sep 1916

Vimy Ridge

Apr 1917

Hill 70

Aug 1917

Amiens

Aug 1918

Organization
Personalities
Casualties
Calgary Highlanders 1921-39
Interwar Years
Calgary Highlanders 1939-45
History
Higher Formations
Mobilization 1939
Shilo 1940
England 1940-41
Battle Drill 1941
Dieppe 1942
England 1943
Northwest Europe
Hill 67

19 Jul 44

Clair Tison

12 Aug 44

Dunkirk

8 Sep 44

Wyneghem

22 Sep 44

Battle of the Scheldt
Hoogerheide

2 Oct 44

South Beveland

14 Oct 44

Walcheren Causeway

31 Oct 44

Groningen

 14 Apr 45

Gruppenbühren

26 Apr 45

Organization & Histories
Scouts & Snipers
"A" Company
"B" Company
"C" Company
"D" Company
18 Platoon
Support Company
Anti-Tank Platoon
Mortar Platoon
Personnel
Company Commanders
"A" Company - Jun 1944
"A" Coy Jun 44 Casualties
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2nd Battalion
Homecoming 1945
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1945-today
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The First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force was raised in August 1914, concentrated at Valcartier Camp in Quebec, and set off for England in the largest trans-Atlantic convoy to date two months later.   Training and reorganization commenced upon arrival in the United Kingdom in October 1914, and it was not until 26 January 1915 that the Division was officially organized, under the command of Lieutenant General E.A.H. Alderson.  Several units under command of the First Contingent were excluded from the Divisional organization, including the 17th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders), 18th Battalion, and several companies of Newfoundland soldiers (later formed into the Newfoundland Regiment and assigned to the 29th (British) Division.)

The Division consisted originally of a cavalry squadron, cyclist company, four infantry brigades, three artillery brigades (equivalent in terms of numbers to the regiments used in the Second World War and after), and divisional engineers, with supporting troops of the Canadian Army Service Corps and Canadian Army Medical Corps.   The strength of the Division was placed at 17,873 all ranks, with 4,943 horses.   The 4th Brigade was broken up in January 1915, with one battalion (the 10th) going to the 2nd Brigade, and the other three battalions being broken send to the Canadian Training Depot.  The 6th Battalion (Fort Garry Horse) left the 2nd Brigade to become a cavalry unit, later serving in the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

Pioneer units were added later in the war, including the 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion from March 1916 to February 1917, when they became the 9th Canadian Railway Battalion.  The 107th Canadian Pioneer Battalion also came under command between Mar 1917 and May 1918, before being absorbed by the 1st Canadian Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant General Edwin A.H. Alderson was selected in early 1915 to command the new Canadian Division, as it was known at that time, making him the highest ranking divisional commander in the British Army.  He was selected - to the relief of many - in lieu of Sir Sam Hughes, who was promoted at this time by the Prime Minister to the rank of Major General.  It had been Hughes wish to command the Canadians in action. Alderson won out over three prospective Canadian appointees, who, while serving with the British Army, were still considered too inexperienced.

Training in the winter of 1914 was rigorous, and conditions on Salisbury Plain were harsh due to cold and rain.  A Royal Inspection of the Division early in 1914 foretold a move to France, which occurred in February 1915.   After a period in reserve near Hazebrouck, the Division relieved the 7th (British) Division in the Fleurbaix sector during the first three says of March, taking over 6,400 yards of front line trenches on the left flank of General Sir Douglas Haig's First British Army. 

The Division moved to the Ypres Salient in April, and faced its first real test during the defence of St. Julien beginning on 22 April.  The Canadians withstood German attacks - aided, for the first time on the Western Front, by the use of poison gas - and finally retired to secondary positions on 26 April, where they held on until 4 May.  The Second Battle of Ypres, as the overall action came to be known, cost the infantry brigades some 5,506 men.

Two weeks later, the Division was in action again at Festubert.  Aiding in a diversionary offensive by the British armies, the Canadians suffered 2,204 casualties for gains of only 600 yards.  Another futile attack was launched at Givenchy in June 1915, after which the Division moved to Ploegsteert.

1st Canadian Division - Infantry Units
(Battalions/Founding Regiments)

Divisional Units (as of April 1915)

1st, 2nd and 3rd Field Companies, Canadian Engineers
1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery
2nd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery
3rd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery
Special Service Squadron, 19th Alberta Dragoons
1st Canadian Divisional Cyclist Company

1st Canadian Infantry Brigade

1st Battalion (Western Ontario) 1st Hussars
7th Regiment (Fusiliers)
21st Regiment (Essex Fusiliers)
22nd Regiment (The Oxford Rifles)
23rd Regiment (The Northern Fusiliers)
24th Kent Regiment
25th Regiment
28th Perth Regiment
29th Regiment (Highland Light Infantry of Canada)
77th Wentworth Regiment
2nd Battalion (Eastern Ontario) 9th Mississauga Horse
The Governor General's Foot Guards
14th Regiment (The Princess Of Wales' Own Rifles)
15th Regiment (Argyll Light Infantry)
16th Prince Edward Regiment
34th Ontario Regiment
42nd Lanark and Renfrew Regiment
43rd Regiment (The Duke of Cornwall's Own Rifles)
49th Regiment (Hastings Rifles)
59th Stormont and Glengarry Regiment
3rd Battalion (Toronto Regiment)     Governor General's Body Guard
2nd Regiment (Queen's Own Rifles of Canada)
10th Regiment (Royal Grenadiers)
13th Royal Regiment
4th Battalion (Central Ontario) 12th Regiment (York Rangers)
19th Lincoln Regiment
20th Regiment (Halton Rifles)
35th Regiment (Simcoe Foresters)
36th Peel Regiment
44th Lincoln and Welland Regiment

2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade

5th Battalion (Western Cavalry) 12th Manitoba Dragoons
16th Light Horse
30th Regiment (British Columbia Horse)
7th Battalion (First British Columbia Regiment) 6th Regiment (The Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles)
11th Regiment (Irish Fusiliers of Canada)
88th Regiment (Victoria Fusiliers)
102nd Regiment (Rocky Mountain Rangers)
104th Regiment (Westminster Fusiliers of Canada)
8th Battalion (90th Rifles)     90th Regiment (Winnipeg Rifles)
96th The Lake Superior Regiment
10th Battalion (Canadians) 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles)
106th Regiment (Winnipeg Light Infantry)

3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade

13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada) 5th Regiment (Royal Highlanders of Canada)
78th Pictou Regiment (Highlanders)
93rd Cumberland Regiment
14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) 1st Regiment (Canadian Grenadier Guards)
3rd Regiment (Victoria Rifles of Canada)
58th Westmount Rifles
63rd Regiment (Halifax Rifles)
65th Regiment (Carabiniers Mont Royal)
66th Regiment (Princess Louise Fusiliers)
68th Regiment
76th Colchester and Hants Regiment
15th Battalion (48th Highlanders of Canada) 31st Grey Regiment
48th Regiment (Highlanders)
97th Regiment (Algonquin Rifles)
16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) 50th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders)
69th Annapolis Regiment
72nd Regiment (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada)
75th Lunenburg Regiment
79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada
91st Regiment (Canadian Highlanders)

1stdiv.gif (9558 bytes)

The Canadians began a long period of static warfare which would last them throughout the winter,  In September, the arrival of the Second Canadian Division meant that a national corps headquarters could take to the field to command the Division.  Active operations resumed again in the spring of 1916, participating in the Battle of Mount Sorrel, and then restoring the situation at Sanctuary Wood.

The legendary Battle of the Somme opened on 1 July 1916, the worst single day in the history of the British Army, with 20,000 men killed and 40,000 wounded.  However, the Canadians' part in the great battle, which was to last through to November, didn't begin until September at Pozières, and lasted through to October.  It was on the Somme that the red patch was first worn as an identifying device - two inches by three inches and worn on both sleeves, this rectangle identified the wearer as belonging to the First Division.  The insignia was also painted on steel trench helmets, and adorned with geometric shapes of different colours to further identify the soldier's specific battery, brigade, battalion or other subunit.

The Division began to prepare for the historic assault on Vimy Ridge, and took the time-honoured position of Right of the Line on 9 April 1917 when the Corps took the Ridge. Other gains were made in the days following the successful assault on the ridge, and the Division participated in the monumental battle of Hill 70 in August 1917.  Passchendaele followed in mid-October, and fighting continued into November.

Massive German offensives came in the spring of 1918, but the Canadian Corps - now considered crack assault troops - were held in reserve for the inevitable counter-offensives.  "Canada's Hundred Days" - the last 100 days of the war - were marked by several Canadian successes, at Amiens, the D-Q Line, and Canal du Nord.  On 11 November 1918, the Armistice brought the war to an end.

The Division formed part of the occupation forces onthe right bank of the Rhine, then in early 1919 moved back to England, and the eventual repatriation and demobilization.  The infantry battalions of the First Division suffered 52,559  casualties during its years in the field, some 15,055 of them fatal - statistically, representing almost the original strength of the entire Division.  Twenty-four soldiers of the Division were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Battles and Engagements

France and Flanders

Battle of Gravenstafel. 22-23 Apr 1915.
Battle of St. Julien. 24 Apr-4 May 1915.
Battle of Festubert. 15-25 May 1915.
Second Action of Givenchy. 15-16 Jun 1915.

Battle of Mount Sorrel. 2-13 Jun 1916.
Battle of Flers - Courcelette. 15-22 Sep 1916.
Battle of Thiepval. 26-28 Sep 1916.
Battle of Le Transloy. 1-18 Oct 1916.
Battle of the Ancre Heights. 1 Oct-11 Nov 1916.

Battle of Vimy. 9-14 Apr 1917.
Battle of Arleux. 28-29 Apr 1917.
Third Battle of the Scarpe. 3-4 May 1917, including the capture of Fresnoy.
Second Battle of Passchendaele. 26 Oct-10 Nov 1917.

Battle of Amiens. 8-11 Aug 1918.
Actions round Damery. 15-17 Aug 1918.
Battle of the Scarpe. 26-30 Aug 1918.
Battle of Drocourt-Quéant. 2-3 Sep 1918.
Battle of the Canal Du Nord. 27 Sep-1 Oct 1918.
Battle of Cambrai. 8-9 Oct 1918.

Commanders

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General Officer Commanding
First Canadian Division

Dates in Command Destination on Leaving Appointment
Lieutenant General E.A.H. Alderson 26 Jan 1916 - 13 Sep 1915 Appointed as General Officer Commanding, Canadian Corps
Major General Arthur W. Currie 13 Sep 1915 - 28 May 1916 Appointed as General Officer Commanding, Canadian Corps
Major General Archibald MacDonell May 1916 - 1919 Division disbanded

Lieutenant General Edwin Alfred Harvey Alderson was a British officer, selected by Sir Sam Hughes to lead the Canadians into action.  However, he soon lost favour with Sir Hughes, in part due to Alderson's criticism of the Ross Rifle - a weapon championed by Hughes as just one of many patronage projects.  When the British Lee Enfield was made the standard battle rifle of the First Division in June 1915, the Militia Minister was not happy.   Alderson was promoted to command the Canadian Corps in September when a Second Canadian Division arrived in France, but his days in that post were numbered.  After the St. Eloi battles in April 1916, in which 1,300 casualties were suffered, he was removed.  He went on to the post of Inspector General of the Canadian Corps, a largely ceremonial role.


Major General Arthur W. Currie was a prewar Militia officer with the 50th Gordon Highlanders of Victoria.  He was an insurance broker and real estate agent; he also used regimental funds for private business purposes - a situation that has been well chronicled in most histories and biographies.   He was bailed out of this stressful financial situation by fellow officers during the war.   He commanded the 2nd Brigade on arrival in France, and in September 1915 was given the First Division.  He too was not popular with Sir Sam Hughes, but his skill and determination provided continuing Canadian successes in the field. His meticulous attention to detail paid him dividends, and he was moved on to command the Canadian Corps in May 1916.   He was the first Canadian to reach the rank of full General.   In the last months of the war, he guided the Canadian Corps to an unbroken string of victories, and would have been made the supreme Allied commander of all armies in France had the war lasted into 1919.  He was knighted in 1917, inducted into the Order of the Bath and the Order of St. Michael and St. George.  He served as Inspector General of the Canadian Militia after the war, and in civil life was Principal and Vice Chancellor of McGill University from 1920 to his death in November 1933.
Major General Archibald Cameron MacDonell was a Canadian prewar regular, a rarity in the CEF.   He served as a brigadier in the 7th Brigade of the Third Division.  Pierre Berton described MacDonnell in the book Vimy:

MacDonell was known as a front-line soldier; indeed, (28 year old intelligence officer Hal) Wallis was to say he spent as much time at the front with his brigadier as he had in his days as a private.  Not for nothing did the men of the 7th call MacDonell "Fighting Mac" and sometimes "Batty Mac" because of his eccentricities under fire.   Everybody knew the story of how he'd gone so far into No Man's Land that a sniper put a bullet in his arm.  Instead of ducking, Batty Mac had stood up swearing, shaking his unwounded arm angrily at the sniper, who immediately put another bullet in his good arm.  And everybody also knew that MacDonell, at the Somme, had insisted on walking among the wounded after the attack on the Regina Trench, unmindful of the enemy shells, to salute the corpses of the Black Watch.  A sentimental Scot who sometimes swore in Gaelic in moments of great pressure, MacDonell stopped at every corpse and said "I salute you, my brave Highlander," until Wallis managed to pull him to safety.


Victoria Cross Holders - First Canadian Division
Fred Fisher Lance Corporal Canada.gif (2720 bytes)
13th Battalion
23 Apr 1915

St. Julien, Belgium

Second Battle of Ypres

KIA
24 April 1915
Francis Alexander Caron Scrimger Captain Canada.gif (2720 bytes)
14th Battalion
25 Apr 1915

St. Julien, Belgium

Second Battle of Ypres

Died
13 Feb 1937

Edward Donald Bellew
Lieutenant Canada.gif (2720 bytes)
7th Battalion
24 Apr 1915

Keerdelaere, Belgium

Second Battle of Ypres

Died
1 Feb 1961
age 78
Frederick William Hall Company Sergeant Major Canada.gif (2720 bytes)
8th Battalion
24 Apr 1915

Ypres, Belgium

Second Battle of Ypres

KIA
24 Apr 1915
Frederick William Campbell Captain Canada.gif (2720 bytes)
1st Battalion
15 Jun 1915

Givenchy, France

Battle of Givenchy

DOW
19 Jun 1915
Lionel Beaumaurice Clarke Acting Corporal 2ndbn.gif (903 bytes)
2nd Battalion
9 Sep 1916

Pozieres, France

Battle of the Somme

DOW
19 Oct 1916
age 23
James Cleland Richardson Piper 16thbn.gif (932 bytes)
16th Battalion
9 Oct 1916

Regina Trench

Battle of the Somme

KIA
9 Oct 1916
age 20
William Johnstone Milne Private 16thbn.gif (932 bytes)
16th Battalion
9 Apr 1917

Thelus, France

Vimy Ridge

KIA
9 Apr 1917

Harry Brown

Private

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10th Battalion

16 Aug 1917

Loos, France

Hill 70

DOW
17 Aug 1917

Michael James O'Rourke

Private

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7th Battalion
15 - 17 Aug 1917

Lens, France

Hill 70

Died
6 Dec 1957

Okill Massey Learmonth

Major

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2nd Battalion

18 Aug 1917

Loos, France

Hill 70

DOW
18 Aug 1917
Colin Barron

Corporal

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3rd Battalion

6 Nov 1917

Passchendaele, Belgium

Battle of Passchendaele

Died
15 Aug 1958
age 65

George Burdon McKean

Lieutenant

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14th Battalion

27/28 Apr 1918

Gravelle, France

Killed
28 Nov 1926

John Bernard Croak

Private

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13th Battalion
8 Aug 1918

Amiens, France

Battle of Amiens

DOW
8 Aug 1918

Herman Good

Corporal

13thbn.gif (938 bytes)
13th Battalion
8 Aug 1918

Hangard Wood, France

Battle of Amiens

Died
18 April 1969
age 80

Ralph Louis Zengel

Sergeant

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5th Battalion

9 Aug 1918

Warvillers, France

Battle of Amiens

Died
22 Feb 1977
age 82

Alexander Picton Brereton Corporal

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8th Battalion

9 Aug 1918

Hackett Woods, France

Battle of Amiens

Died
1 Jul 1976
age 83

Frederick George Coppins Corporal 8thbn.gif (921 bytes)
8th Battalion
9 Aug 1918

Hackett Woods, France

Battle of Amiens

Died
30 Mar 1963

Cyrus Wesley Peck

Lieutenant Colonel

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16th Battalion

2 Sep 1918

Villers-lez-Cagnicourt

Drocourt-Queant Line

Died
27 Sep 1956

Arthur George Knight

Acting Sergeant

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10th Battalion

2 Sep 1918

Villers-lez-Cagnicourt

Drocourt-Queant Line

DOW
3 Sep 1918

William Henry Metcalf

Lance Corporal

16thbn.gif (932 bytes)
16th Battalion

2 Sep 1918

Drocourt-Queant Line, France

Drocourt-Queant Line

Died
8 Aug 1968

Walter Rayfield

Private

7thbn.gif (897 bytes)
7th Battalion

2-4 Sep 1918

Arras, France

Drocourt-Queant Line

Died
19 Feb 1949
George Fraser Kerr

Lieutenant

3rdbn.gif (939 bytes)
3rd Battalion

27 Sep 1918

Bourlon Wood, France

Hindenburg Line

Died in Accident
8 Dec 1929
William Merrifield

Sergeant

4thbn.gif (932 bytes)
4th Battalion

1 Oct 1918

Abancourt

Hindenburg Line

Died
8 Aug 1943

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