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During the first World War Canada had a force of 650,000 soldiers, of which roughly 300,000 were combat units. When Canada was at war on August 4 1918, Canada's military force was only 3,000 militia and a naval ship in the Pacific and one in the Atlantic.

Within days of recruiting, Canada got 60,000 volunteers across Canada. At first they planned to depart from Montreal to England, however, low tides and weathering would later force them to take a train to Val-Cartier to Halifax after training which was 3 weeks for a Canadian and other Dominion soldiers, whereas a European Imperial force would have 3 months of training.

The reason so many Canadians joined up was not to fight for the "British Empire" as is traditionally believed. Many had relatives back in England and they wanted to have a free trip there because they expected the war to be over shortly after they got there. Not to mention where unlike a British soldier whose average age was 22, a Canadian soldier though were said to be 19, may have actually been more near the number 16 or 17. This shows that many Canadian soldiers were only schoolboys, and those who were slightly older were mostly miners, fishermen and farmers before they went.

In the first days of the war, some 30,000 Canadians came to train at Val-Cartier. This made it the biggest rifle range in the world at the time. By September they were on their way to Halifax. And guess what? One of the soldiers going there was a soldier who had rescued a black bear that would later be Winnie the pooh.

In October the Canadians were on their way across the Atlantic. This force of 60,000+ soldiers travelling across the Ocean as the first Canadian expeditionary force in WW1 is actually the single largest army ever to cross the Atlantic before or since. By this point however, Canada had already taken some losses. There had been a small Canadian regiment posted in Malta that were sent to England right away upon war being declared and they fought a decently large role in the Battle of the Marne but fortunately took few casualties in this battle.

In late November 1914, 1000 Canadians from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light infantry came to France before the other forces to reinforce Canadians from Malta who had taken severe casualties at Neuve-Chapelle in Mid-October 1914. They helped in the Race to the Sea and took a few casualties from shells and snipers but nothing more than that at the moment. This small Canadian force was the only ones that reached the frontlines in 1914 and would be the only Canadians to witness the Christmas truce.

The Canadian first division with a force of 10,000 infantry and 2,000 gunners arrived in France in January 1915. They were sent to the Ypres salient on January 6 and on January 8 the first Canadian on the Ypres Salient is killed. The Canadians raid a few villages and take mild casualties and even take part in the first trench raid on the Ypres front in February 1915.

By late March the Canadians were resting behind the frontlines. At first they thought that the British were looking at them as inferior which is what the Canadians assumed in the Boer War. But they soon would realize that the British plan on putting them into a suicide mission. The British had reports that a gas attack might actually come. There was a French and British unit that had taken casualties in the Northern areas of the battlefield. On April 20 1915 the French and British units in that part of the front get their leave and the Canadian division of 12,000 gunners and infantrymen come in.

They see that the trenches are not deep and they would be vulnerable to German attacks. They spend two whole days and nights digging away tirelessly. Suddenly at around 4:30 PM on Thursday April 22, a green cloud comes in. The cloud is aimed at the Algerians and they are quickly slaughtered. A Canadian Regiment from Montreal is sent in to plug the hole.

They encounter German infantry and they become the first group of soldiers to encounter a German raid on a massive scale. That night however, a Canadian force of 800 men from Toronto are sent into Kitchener's Woods. Very interesting fact is that this is not named after General Kitchener but because the wood in that particular woods was what the French used to make kitchen utensils. At 11:40 PM they start to make their way Into the Woods. And at about 2 AM they encounter a German force head on. The battle lasted until 4 AM when the Canadians routed the Germans out of the woods. But the Commanders were all killed or wounded, and only 200 of the 800 that had engaged two hours earlier were still fit for service.

By the break of dawn, the 200 remaining Canadians were getting reports that a German counter attack was likely to happen in the woods, but they were low in numbers and ammunition and they still had lots of wounded left. A few Canadians decided to stay behind and try to hold off the enemy attack if it ever came while the others got the wounded out and started evacuating.

The Canadians in this battle were at a serious disadvantage. They had only 3 weeks of training while everyone else got 3 months, not to mention that many German soldiers already had experiences in battle, especially the Officers. Plus Canadians were using Ross Rifles because the British wouldn't give them the modern type. Plus the British army was roughly 250,000 in the Ypres salient while the Canadians were only 4.5% that size.

In the early mornings of April 23, the Germans launched a second gas attack. This time it was aimed for the whole Canadian line. Waves of Germans advanced behind the cloud of gas, and Scrimger gave the orders for soldiers to pee in their handkerchiefs and breathe in it. Though outgunned, less well trained, experienced and numerous than their Germans, the Canadians still managed to hold their lines but at a gruesome cost. The Canadians had taken 15% casualties in a matter of minutes. The Canadian gunners who were also taking fire from Germans in the Fields and Woods, started to pound the Germans until the Germans were forced to retreat further back. As soon as the Germans fell back, a Canadian company was sent in to secure the position and they begun to dig in and wait for a possible counter-attack.

In the early afternoon that day, a Canadian battalion of 1,000 led by Arthur Birchall, advanced under heavy fire. The story goes that he saw that the men around him were being massacred and were too terrified to advance. So he took his umbrella and started shaking it around and began walking towards the German positions. He was shot multiple times but kept walking as if nothing happened, as soon as he got to the German trench, he fell dead. The Canadians who were in the attack were so enraged that they bolted into the German trench and put the Germans in a rout. This was the attack on Pilckem Ridge. Of the 1,000 who had advanced, within 20 minutes, 700 were down.

As soon as they took Pilckem however, the Germans started to hammer them with a barrage of shells because Pilckem had a strong position for the Ypres battlefield and whoever had the hill controlled a large aspect of the battle. At around this time, the British forces had taken severe casualties and were in a rout. The Canadian Chaplain Frederick Scott came over and asked what was going on. A British driver told him that this was a rout, however for some reason, the Canadians were still holding out.

However, by this point, the situation had intensified. Canadians were low on ammunition and many of their guns woulsdn't jam, so they would fine a dead British soldier and take his rifle since it was much better. The day ended with Germans shelling the Canadian positions and throwing in small infantry raids. This was the 2nd day of fighting. Now Canadians had taken over 3,000 casualties which means 1 in 4 were dead or wounded in 2 days. But worse was yet to come.

The 3rd day opened up. The Germans stopped using gas attacks since by now, it no longer had the effective surprise it once had. In the early mornings, a soldier from Montreal by the name of Fred Fisher was walking around with a German machine gun that he had captured and ran into a patrol of seven Canadians. They explained to him that they were to capture a house occupied by German soldiers and wanted him to provide cover for them. He did so, and succeeded in killing the Germans without one of the seven Canadians advancing being killed or wounded.

For most of the morning, the Canadians tried to plug up the holes in their lines, they had to yield some ground because the German attacks were increasing and the Canadians were losing more men by the minute. In the late afternoon, the Germans threw a massive attack on the Canadians and the Canadians were forced to retreat. However, Fred Fisher was trapped on a hill when the attack started, and he held off the Germans on a hill for several minutes before being himself overrun and killed. For this he was posthumously awarded the Victortia Cross, as was John Globb(I think that is hoiw it is spelled) who was the Private that saved Winnie the Pooh, he was killed during the retreat. That same night it is rumoured that the Germans took a Canadian soldier and crucified him, however it is still debated.

The day before, April 23 Cameron Brant, was killed in action during the Pilckem ridge assault, most likely by a sniper., In the same battle, Patrick riel, a grandson of Louis Riel was also killed by a sniper. And so was the son in law and grandson of Charles Tupper. (Charles Tupper would lose 6 other family members in the war, and the son of the owner of the Great Canadian Railway was also killed.)

The Canadians were falling back in chaos. They were sitting ducks for snipers, raids and shelling. The Canadian regiments were actually raised only 8 months earlier by wealthy Canadian business men who were also military experienced, but every single one of them was dead as were over three quarters of the officers. A few Canadians got so fed up of being killed off, that they went beserk and charged right into the Germans and were cut to ribbons by machine gun fire. In the retreat, Canada had 2,000 soldiers taken prisoner. This was the WW1 battle in which the most Canadian prisoners are taken.

By the time that the surviving Canadians got to St. Julien, the Canadians had taken so many casualties that either a whole company was wiped out, or a single surviving Canadian from that company would try to hold his position on his own. The Germans attacked the Canadians all afternoon and by the evening, every last Canadian had either been killed, captured or pushed further South. Now small groups of remaining Canadians made a line just north of the Chapel of Ypres and they took more shelling from the Germans all through the night.

By morning the Ypres Chapel was demolished and hundreds of bodies such as horses, cows, pigs, villagers and dogs were seen laying everywhere. This was the last point of defence and if the Canadians lost this line, there would be nowhere else to fall back to, and the Germans would then be able to sweep down and capture the routing British, cut reinforcements from England off, sweep down to take Paris and win the war.

For most of the day the Canadian line took shelling and small scale raids that were meant to test their positions. But in the early evening the Germans were going to do the finishing fireworks. They threw in 30,000 German infantry. The biggest single German infantry assault in this whole battle. Within half an hour it was over, virtually every German had fallen, but the Canadians also took extreme loss of life.

Afterwards, there were a few casualties there and then, but the battle died down after that. The survivors lined up, and the counting began. It was soon confirmed that of the 12,000 Canadians in the battle, 1,800-2,000 were dead which is roughly 1 in 6. 5,000 had been wounded and 2,000 taken prisoner. This means that in less than 100 hours of fighting, over 75% of the original Canadian force is annihialated.

What was worse is that reinforcements had not yet started coming. And through May the Canadians take even more casualties, such as Hooge where 660 more Canadians are killed and 1,200 wouinded in 6 days of fighting. The original Canadian army by this point had almost ceased to exist. The few that were still standing were brought behind the frontline to wait for more reinforcements to come which happened in late June and they were sent to the craters of St. Eloi. It was known as the deadliest spot on the frontline. The conditions were so terrible that life expectancy there was 50:50. So they only sent in a battalion of Canadians every night, and heavy mortar guns bombed their positions non-stop every couple of minutes. At one point, the Canadians were raided in the craters by a German Division, but were repulsed. The survivors from Ypres and Hooge were now the more likely to survive. Simply for the fact that they were more experienced and skilled than the fresh ones. However, this did not make them immune from death. And over a period of time, their numbers dwindled until not a single one of them was left standing. The last Ypres veteran left was Louis Lipsett who was killed in action on October 14 1918.

For the summer of 1915, the Canadians were in Northern France fighting along the areas of Loos and St. Eloi. They were also near the site of Neuve Chapelle where the now dead Canadians from the original wave had aided the British in capturing in March 1915.

By the fall of 1915, the Canadian forces took more casualties when they were ordered to capture a series of German trenches that were blocking the British advance to Loos. This piece of ground that the Canadians fought for, was eventually abandonned and re-taken by the Germans. Because more Canadians were coming to England than could be shipped to France, the Canadians in England now numbered 150,000 with the forces in France at 50,000. More was done to send more Canadians into the fighting.

1916 came long with the Canadians finding themselves once again on the Ypres front. However, this time it was very quiet, and few casualties were reported in this period. Because most of the fighting was going around in Verdun because the Germans had launched an offensive to "Bleed France White." The British in response began setting up for the Somme offensive. On June 24 they began a heavy bombardment. The battle was set to begin on June 30, but was delayed by a day. The offensive was a failure except in the French section of the battlefield. The British were reported to have lost about 54,000 of their 120,000 soldiers. But some estimates put the loss at 100,000. Among them were 981 of the 1042 New Foundlanders who had only recently arrived in France and were facing battle for their first time. Every Officer in that unit was killed or wounded.

The Canadians stayed in the Ypres sector of the front all through July and most of August when they were suddenly called over to help the British in the Somme front and their section was replaced by new British reinforcements. In late August a Canadian force of 20,000 infantry, 4,000 gunners and 6,000 engineers, mechanics etc. arrived on the Somme front while 20,000 staff stayed behind the frontline to support the battle.

The Canadians were ordered towards Courcelette where 30,000 soldiers had already died trying to take it. Thousands of French and Anglo Canadians commenced a night raid and took the town within 10 minutes but with serious losses. The Germans counter attacked dozens of times but were beaten off every time. It is said that 6,000 Canadians took part directly in the town fight while the rest supported the flanks. Of the 6,000 that engaged, 1200 were dead and 2,000 wounded by the end of the fight. That means 1 in 6 Canadian infantry were knocked out in one raid, yet their role in the Somme front was only beginning.

In early September they were ordered to take a series of German held fields and farms, one of them being called Mouquet Farm where 200 Canadians die and 400 injured while battling Germans in all directions for days before taking the area. September 1916 was the month year for the Canadians since April 1915 at 2nd Ypres. It even beat the battle of Mount Sorrel where for 14 days from June 2-14 1916, over 1,500 Canadians died in a series of attacks to take Hill 44 and Mount Sorrel to capture a German train station down below. In the month of September as many as 5,000 Canadians died or were injured. Plus in August 1,000 Canadians had been killed or wounded in a series of trench raids which meant that the Canadian infantry had taken 30% losses in a matter of weeks.

On October 8 1916 an infamous attack and an infamous incident occurred. The Canadians were ordered to take Regina Trench. All through the night they attacked the Germans repetively. During the fight, a Piper named Piper James Richardson who was also the son of the Canadian Chaplain of the 1st Canadian division, ran back and forth with his pipes to encourage his men forward. He took a group of German prisoners and then again began playing with his pipes only to be killed moments later. For this he got the VC posthumously. The battle however was a failure. Of the 3,000 Canadians that engaged, 2,000 were dead or wounded.

The Somme battle soon ended for the Canadians after that. They did take part in squad fights and were still targets of sniping and shelling, but they played no other major role in the Somme afterwards. The son of Frederick Scott had also been killed several days earlier during a trench raid.

By November 1916, the 4 Canadian divisions(it was only 1 division in 1915), started to connect together. By December 1916 they were fighting alongside each other. Before that they were a small Colonial force within the British 1st army. In February 1917 they were officially a National army and they were quickly sent to the Vimy front. There they did little squad raids to get information but on several occasions they would throw a regiment into battle. One incident occurred in March 1917 when 668 Canadians were killed or wounded in a night attack. The Canadians mined under the German positions. The battle was set to begin on Easter Sunday April 8 1917, but was postponed until the 9th. The weather that fateful morning was rainy, snowy and cold. In some areas of the front, both sides were so close to each other, that they could hear each other whispering.

At 5:30 AM the battle began, the Canadians blew the mines under the Germans and thousands of Germans were killed in that one moment. The explosion was so loud that people in London were awoken by it. In the battle there were 25,000 Canadian infantry and 5,000 gunners in the battle advancing on the Germans. The Germans started to bombard the Canadians in open view and Canadians were falling by the hundreds as machine guns mowed waved upon wave down. In most areas however, the Canadians despite taking severe casualties, are able to still take their positions on schedule except the 4th division which had more resistance and they took longer to take it.

The Germans now were falling back into the woods and keeping the Canadians pinned as their guns bombarded the Canadians. Soon it was decided to keep advancing. They advanced up the hill and took more losses. Most positions were taken by the end of the first day, however the next day, they threw another attack and by the evening of April 10, all except the Pimple was taken. April 11 there was limited fighting. The Germans were still firing at the Canadians from the woods, and the Germans were shelling them and throwing small scale raids but nothing else.

But on the morning of April 12 the Canadians finished the offensive. The fighting is close quarter and the Germans beat the Canadians off a few times, but still managed to secure the Pimple within half an hour. The battle was costly. 3,600 Canadians were dead plus another 400 missing or captured and over 10,000 wounded. meaning that roughly 45% of the whole Canadian force that took part in the 4 day battle were dead, wounded or missing.

For the rest of April there was little fighting, but in the first days of May, the Germans launched a long series of attacks on the Canadians to take back Vimy but were unsuccessful. A Canadian division was sent into Fresnoy Wood as a way to secure the Canadian hill and the town of Vimy itself. The Germans shelled that Canadian division and they attacked them multiple times until the Germans were once again beaten off. 1,000 more Canadians died and 3,000 wounded during this counter attack.

Now only about 12,000 Canadians were still able to serve. Fortunately, a new batch of fresh Canadians arrived shortly after the Vimy Campaign. In June 1917 the Canadians find themselves back in the Craters of St. Eloi with the intense shelling and even get mined on several occasions. By late September, the Canadians are once again heading towards the Ypres front. There was 20,000 Canadians in this battle including 2,000 gunners. They stayed in the presence of the battle of Passchendaele which had started on July 31 1917 to take a German base to help get England out of the blackade that Germany had them under.

In late October however, the first serious Canadian casualties arrived. On October 30 1917 a massive offensive occurred in which over 50% of the 2,000 Canadians that took part in it were killed or wounded to take their position, one of them being Talbot Papineau, Great-Grandson of Joseph Papineau who had led a Canadian uprising for a Republic nearly a century earlier.

The Canadians pressed into the battlefield and by November 10, the 2nd Canadian division had managed to break through and take the town while the rest of the Canadians held the Germans on small cliffs north of the town. Of 20,000 Canadians that took part in a 3 week battle, 16,000 were dead or wounded which is what the Canadian General Arthur Currie predicted it would be. More people were killed at the battle of Passchendaele than Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together. (400,000)

The Canadians soon left the Ypres salient and they would never fight a major battle in Ypres ever again. But casualties of dead Canadians were still reported there until as late as Mid-October 1918. After the battle of Passchendaele, the British Generals decided the town was no longer important, and was so abandonned. The Canadians would take no more major part in the war for the remainder of 1917, yet some were still killed by snipers, shelling or friendly fire.

The Germans launched Operation Michael in March 1918. They deliberately avoided the Canadian forces. The canadians were said to be stubborn. The reason may not be because they were more fierce but because they were so poorly trained that they wouldn't know when they are suppose to run away. 3 Canadian Cavalry brigades however did take part in this battle, at Polygon Woods they successfully were able to hold off multiple German attacks while British troops fell back.

The Canadians spent the late fall, winter, spring and early summer getting reinforcements. Just before they had fought at Passchendaele, they had taken severe losses at Hill 70 which is one of the reasons why the Canadian army was so small at this battle.

In April 1918, the Canadians once again started to take severe casualties by German gas attacks. By the time the Canadians had reached the frontlines however, the German offensive was done for and Canadians were now sent in to pressure the Germans who were now crumbling because the Bolshevik Uprising was causing a Civil War within Germany. In May 1918, Australian forces start to move into the same area that the Canadians were in. The Canadians had the full intention of pulling back by the end of July.

However an incident with the Llandovery Castle occurred in which it is said that a German crew submarine machine gunned all but one small group of Canadian nurses that got away on a lifeboat, when this ship was a hospital ship. This caused an outrage for the Canadians. Now they wanted to lead the Summer Offensive. They move in with their full army of 100,000 infantry and 20,000 gunners. On August 8 1918 the Canadians in large numbers swarmed into the trenches without any shelling to catch them by surprise. They took German soldiers prisoner and even found breakfast on the table.

But by late morning the Germans were now prepared and the Canadians started to attack the Germans head on, with England and Australia supporting the Canadians from behind. The fighting ended with the British taking only 2 KM, the Australians taking 16 KM and the Canadians 18. This was the single largest allied advance in the war up to that point. On August 9, the Canadians renewed their offensive and it resulted in them pushing the Germans back further. In Germany people were calling it "The Week of Suffering"(which is what they used for the battle of Vimy Ridge or "The Black Day of the German Army."

After August 9, the Canadians took limited ground not because they couldn't push further, but because they were now waiting for the remaining allied forces to come. The Offensive the Canadians launched on August 8 is actually where the Blitzkrieg type of Offensive came from. Hitler himself watched the Canadians attack his trenches and he read reports and he took notes about the way the Canadians attacked.

The Amiens area is quickly taken, so the Canadians push even further up towards Arras in September 1918 and they take similar casualties. By this point, American forces were now starting to arrive in large numbers. The Canadians kept pushing the line forward with American troops starting to launch their own separate campaign until they reached the Hindenburg line. This was the last position left on the Western Front that the allies still had to break through. But the Germans had spent 4 years making the hardest obstacles possible, mazes of trenches and traps plus 1 Million experienced soldiers to get through.

The Canadians, British, Australians, French, other countries begin to throw attacks on the Germans. The Americans, a few days later, attack the Hindenburg line in support, until on November 1 1918 the Line is breached. The Germans now start to fall back into strongholds, but they are totally outnumbered, and town after town begins to fall.

By November 3 1918 the Germans had been kicked out of France except for the Sedan area.The Canadian forces were sent to Mons on November 7 1918. The town of Mons ironically is the first place in the war where British and German forces met, and would be the last. The Germans began sniping and shelling as many Canadians as they could but they knew that it was over. A large portion of the German army was by this time already desserting into the Netherlands.

On November 10 1918, the Canadians commenced a bombardment of the town of Mons to soften up German defenses. The shelling went on until the break of dawn on November 11 1918. It was now 6 Am. The armistice was due to take place, however, the Generals decided that they wanted the fighting to go on until the last minute. At 7 AM, a Canadian battalion was sent to take Mons by force while the rest of the Canadian army moves up its flanks to provide cover and support. The resistance in the town is slim and within half an hour the Canadians take the town, with 38 dead and 72 wounded. This was the last major attack the Canadians would do and it was the last frontal attack in the entire war.

By 10 AM, Americans and British troops mostly were still fighting. They were raiding trench positions and were capturing bridges. They even had hundreds of British and American troops fight the Germans even only ten minutes before the armistice. The Canadians were nearby and could hear gunfire. A small patrol of Canadians were about to take part in the last Canadian patrol in the entire war. They raided a house and cleared it but a soldier named George Price was hit and died one minute before the Armistice. He is known around the world as the last soldier to die in WW1.

The 100 Days Offensive, costed 12,000 more Canadian lives and 50,000 were wounded. In the entire war, 65,000 Canadians died in combat related incidents, 172,000 were wounded and 7,000 died from diseases and 3,000 died from accidental deaths. 25 Canadians were also shot by firing squads.

This is frightening when you think that the Canadian population was only 5.5 million at the time. 75.000 Canadians dead in all is the equivalent of 1 in 70 of the Canadian population at the time dying. Plus nearly 3 times as many wounded. Overall the odds of a Canadian soldier dying in WW1 was 1 in 10. But this is when you put combatant units. If you put the combat soldiers, the odds of dying was more like 1 in 4, or for a Canadian infantry soldier, 1 in 3.

After the armistice, Canadians were sent to England. Hundreds of Canadian engineers, gunners, nurses, doctors and a small group of volunteer riflemen were sent to Russia for the war against Lenin and a small number of casualties occurred there too. The mission there lasted only for a few weeks and most were sent back to England without seeing any action.

By June 1919, the armistice was signed and around this time, the last of the Canadians had arrived home. The War was now OVER!!!!!

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