Page 38

Chapter 2: The Outbreak of War and the Mobilization of the Active Service Force, 1939

(See Map 3)

The Approach of War

IN March of 1939, in defiance of the agreements made in the previous autumn when he had declared that he wanted no Czechs within his boundaries, Hitler occupied the whole of Czechoslovakia and extinguished the Czech state. German pressure upon Poland followed immediately. The British Government, now fully undeceived as to the nature of Hitler’s policy, proceeded, in conjunction with France, to promise full support to Poland in the event of aggression. The Prime Minister (Mr. Neville Chamberlain) announced on 26 April that Britain, for the first time in her history, was to have compulsory military service in a time of peace.

In the course of the summer the German-Polish situation steadily deteriorated. The position of Russia having become a matter of the deepest importance to the western powers, France and Britain sent military missions to Moscow to initiate staff conversations which might be preliminary to the conclusion of a political agreement. These missions reached Moscow on 11 August, but the conversations led nowhere. On 21 August the announcement that Russia and Germany would shortly sign a non-aggression pact burst on the world with stunning effect. The track was now clear for Hitler.

The United Kingdom had kept the Canadian Government fully informed of the development of the crisis. On 22 August, after attending a meeting at the Dominions Office, the Canadian High Commissioner in London (Mr. Vincent Massey) reported to Ottawa that all evidence available at the Foreign Office pointed to a very critical period between 25 and 28 August during which a German attack upon Poland might take place. He added that, while no general mobilization was as yet to be ordered in the United Kingdom, very wide military precautions were being taken.1 The Secretary of

Page 39

State for the Dominions informed the Canadian Government separately that the British Cabinet had decided to institute certain measures prescribed in the Precautionary Stage of the War Book, though this Stage was not yet to be formally instituted. The measures included calling up additional naval reserves, all squadrons of the Auxiliary Air Force and key parties of coast defence and anti-aircraft units.2 From France came reports of similar action.3 On 24 August the British Parliament re-assembled and Mr. Chamberlain told the House of Commons, “We find ourselves confronted with the imminent peril of war”.

As the summer wore on and tension grew, additional measures of preparation had quietly been taken in Canada. In particular, a survey was made of the accommodation which would be required in the event of mobilization of the Mobile Force. All Military Districts made some preparations to lease or expropriate buildings in accordance with plans laid down by the Quartermaster General.4 On 24 June an instruction to District Officers Commanding5 advised them that, whereas it had previously been intended that the Mobile Force when called out would be concentrated in a single “Field Force Concentration Camp”, this procedure was not practicable for an early mobilization; for in a war with Germany it was desirable to concentrate the force in Eastern Canada, and there was no single camp there capable of accommodating the whole of it (even under summer conditions) and at the same time affording facilities for useful training. It was accordingly ordered that the Force would be concentrated initially “by Arms of the Service”6 in six camps across Canada (Valcartier, P.Q.; Petawawa, Ont.; Camp Borden, Ont.; Shilo, Man.; Dundurn, Sask.; and Barriefield, Ont.) At the same time, the period allowed for unit mobilization prior to concentration was extended from seven to 21 days. As time passed and it began to appear that mobilization might take place in autumn weather, the arrangements had to be revised a second time, and a letter was sent to the Districts on 21 August,7 informing them that if mobilization occurred late in the year the Mobile Force would not be concentrated in camps; instead, units would be accommodated in the same areas in which they were mobilized, under arrangements made by the Districts. This change was necessitated by the fact that there was neither time nor money to construct winter accommodation at the camps.

During the summer further attention was given to selecting staffs for the formations of the Mobile Force. A circular letter sent out on 1 August8 listed tentatively the officers of the Permanent and Non-Permanent forces to be employed in headquarters of the Field Force; this list, replacing the previous one appended to Defence Scheme No. 3, contained the names of 19 future general officers of the war period, of whom only three had at this

Page 40

time attained the rank of Brigadier. Commanders were not designated for either the Corps or the Divisions. The Brigadier General Staff of the Corps was to be Brigadier H. D. G. Crerar.

“Adopt Precautionary Stage Against Germany”

For some time past, estimates had been in preparation for the immediate expenditures which would require to be authorized by special means in the event of a state of emergency arising while Parliament was not sitting. The warnings received on and after 22 August clearly indicated that the emergency had arrived. The draft Militia estimates were approved by the Military Members of the Defence Council on the evening of 23 August, and by the Minister of National Defence, after discussion and amendment, on the 24th. On the same day the Cabinet gave its sanction, an expenditure of $8,918,930, for which no appropriation existed, being authorized by Governor General’s Warrant.*

* The order in council (PC 2389) is dated the following day (25 August), on which it was approved by the Governor General. However, the Military Districts were informed on the 24th that authority had been obtained for expenditures required to implement the Interim Plan.9

Of this sum $7,500,000 was for the Air Force (for purchase of aircraft, spares and accessories) and only $946,930 for the Militia. The Militia allotment was concerned in great part with the completion of the Interim Plan of coast defence on an emergency basis, and the procurement of essential stores. The two largest single items however were $511,000 to finance increasing the strength of the Permanent Force by 77 officers and 731 other ranks (a measure which would have been more useful if taken earlier) and $100,000 to provide forms required for “documentation” of recruits on mobilization.10

On 25 August the Prime Minister, Mr. King, announced that the Government had been engaged in formulating the policy to be presented in the event of Parliament having to be summoned, and added that “all possible precautionary measures” were being taken to meet “whatever eventuality may arise”. One of the steps taken at this time was cancelling the leave of the Permanent Force.11

It was now necessary to consider partial mobilization and the institution of the Precautionary Stage. The Government was naturally reluctant to take, while there was still hope of peace being preserved, any steps that might require Parliament to be summoned; but it was advised that action could be taken under Section 63 of the Militia Act† without its being necessary to call Parliament. On 25 August, accordingly, the Military Members discussed

†”The Militia or any part thereof, or any officer or man thereof, may be called out for any military purpose other than drill or training, at such times and in such manner as is prescribed.” A regulation pursuant to this Section was made by order in council (PC 2396 of 26 August 1939).

Page 41

the question of measures for immediate security, and that evening the Chief of the General Staff (General Anderson) presented to the Minister of National Defence a request for authority to introduce the Precautionary Stage. The Cabinet approved this action the same night; and at 11:15 p.m. the Department of National Defence dispatched to Military Districts warning telegrams12 calling out the units selected for the guarding of vulnerable points:–

Reference Defence Scheme Number Three. Adopt Precautionary Stage against Germany. List Two called out under Section 63 Militia Act. Personnel comprising units of List Two will not for present be cocppelled to respond under authority of this Section but will be called out on a voluntary basis. No proceedings will he instituted against any officer or man failing to respond. Reference HQS 3498 FD 41 dated 29 April 1939 execute arrangements for protection of armouries.


The sentences concerning the strictly voluntary nature of the service were not in the telegram as included in the Defence Scheme. They were presumably added because troops called out under Section 63 were not technically “on active service”. Coastal Districts received in addition instructions to call out “List One”, the force required to man the coast defences, less certain specified units.13

The action taken was promulgated in General Order No. 124, which called out “on service” 99 units of the Non-Permanent Active Militia, in whole or in part. The number of units affected was subsequently increased to 106. The force thus called out on a voluntary basis amounted to roughly 10,000 men. On 26 August another authority for emergency expenditure (amounting to $1,453,000) was obtained to cover the cost.14 The citizen soldiers’ response to the order was excellent. By 2 p.m. on 27 August all Military Districts had reported that guards had been placed at most of the vulnerable points for which they were responsible. These included the more important canals and railway bridges, and RCAF hangars. At the same time, all coast defences were reported manned in accordance with the Defence Scheme.15 There was in general no trouble in carrying out these tasks on a voluntary basis, although a minor difficulty was reported from Toronto, where apparently some men “were anxious to get back to more remunerative employment”.16

Under the authority given on 24 August, the Engineers were working hard to carry out the emergency coast defence plan. To strengthen the East Coast, the 4th Anti-Aircraft Battery (Permanent Force) RCA, which had already been recalled from Petawawa Camp to its normal station at Kingston, was ordered to move to Halifax at once. It left Kingston at midnight 26–27 August.17 This unit was equipped with the only effective antiaircraft guns in Canada.

The Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force were also moving units into the Atlantic coastal area. Two of the four destroyers

Page 42

based on the Pacific coast sailed from Vancouver for Halifax on 31 August.18 RCAF units had begun moving to war stations on the 26th, and within a few days three squadrons from the interior had reached airfields on the Atlantic coast (where only one had previously been stationed), and another had taken post at St. Hubert, near Montreal.19 So far as the strength and equipment of the Canadian forces allowed, the gates were guarded.

War in Europe: The Mobile Force is Mobilized

Hitler did not assail Poland between 25 and 28 August as had been feared, although we now know that the attack had actually been fixed for the 26th. He accepted a postponement, apparently in the hope of “eliminating British intervention”; but the delay was very short.20 In the early hours of 1 September, without the decent formality of a declaration of war, German divisions rolled across the Polish frontier and the German air force began bombing Polish aerodromes and communications.

This news led the Canadian Government to order mobilization. On 1 September Council, meeting at nine o’clock in the morning, rapidly agreed upon a series of important orders in council. One, pursuant to the provisions of the War Measures Act, declared the existence of a state of “apprehended war” as of and from 25 August; a second advised a proclamation summoning Parliament to meet on 7 September; and a third provided for “the organization forthwith of a Canadian Active Service Force”.21 Under this authority, steps were at once taken to embody the Mobile Force provided for in Defence Scheme No. 3. The machine was started by a pencilled note22 from the Minister of National Defence to his Military Secretary, received at 11:05 a.m.:

Col Scott.

You can ask CGS to take immediate action under Sect. 64 for Active Service in Canada.


At 12.35 p.m. on 1 September the Adjutant General, acting in accordance with the plans so long prepared, dispatched to all Districts the “mobilization telegram”:23

Reference Defence Scheme Number Three Mobilize entire Mobile Force.*

The District Officers Commanding immediately put into effect the District mobilization schemes which were in readiness, and notified the Commanding Officers of the militia units concerned.

* The telegrams to coastal districts ordered also the mobilization of List One. A separate telegram advised that the entire mobilized force (Mobile Force, Lists One and Two, District Headquarters and Permanent Force units) was being placed on active service under Section 64 of the Militia Act. Under the statute, this action necessitated calling Parliament.

Page 43

At this time, although the guns were firing on the Continent, Great Britain had not declared war. As for Canada, not only had she not yet declared war, but her Government had repeatedly stated that such action would not be taken without consultation with Parliament. There can have been little real doubt in any mind about what Parliament would do when it assembled; but even in the event of a declaration of war, the question of the forms of Canadian participation still remained open. The Government was evidently anxious to avoid any imputation that it had pre-judged the case, and with this in view decided to alter the designation of the force mobilized for active service. The events of 1 September were thus described in a personal diary kept by Major E. G. Weeks, the Assistant Director of Organization in the Adjutant General’s Branch:24

Gov. decided to place Militia on active service in Canada (Mobile Force). Although all submissions to Council were ready and all plans made, we were horrified to hear the Cabinet decided at the last minute to change the name of the Mobile Force from “Canadian Field Force” to “Canadian Active Service Force”. The result being many changes, torn up stencils, and $65,000 worth of Mobilization forms almost useless. Very hectic day – but we managed to get the General Order 135/1939 issued and in the mail to all Districts.

General Order No. 135 announced that the Governor in Council had “authorized the organization of a Canadian Active Service Force” and had “named as Corps of the Active Militia” and “placed on active service in Canada” certain specified units. The accompanying schedules listed nearly 300 individual units and formation headquarters, including the headquarters of “1st Corps CASF”, the whole of the 1st and 2nd Divisions, CASF, and quotas of Corps, Army and Lines of Communication troops. In addition, this Order incorporated in the CASF the units and details of the Non-Permanent Active Militia which had been called out under General Order No. 124 to guard vulnerable points and man coast defences. Some additions were now made to the original list. The NPAM soldiers on duty were attested into the CASF, except for those not wishing to enlist, who were released in due course.

A word may be said here upon the composition of the force thus mobilized. It had been carefully worked out in advance so as to give, as far as possible, proportional representation on a population basis to every part of the country. Thus the three infantry brigades of the 1st Division were arranged territorially: the 1st being composed of units from Ontario, the 2nd of western units and the 3rd of units from Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. In the 2nd Division, similarly, the 4th was an Ontario brigade, the 5th (as originally mobilized) was made up of units from Quebec, and the 6th was entirely western. Subsequently, as noted below, the composition of the 5th and 6th Brigades was somewhat altered.

Page 44

The position of the Permanent Force units requires some explanation. Defence Scheme No. 3 as approved in 1937 had placed them in Force “B”, i.e., the portion of the Mobile Force which would be last to concentrate or (in the events of troops being sent) to go overseas. It was explained that the efficient mobilization, concentration and training of the Mobile Force would “require a maximum effort on the part of the comparatively few professional soldiers available in Canada”. In other words, Permanent Force personnel would be so urgently required as staff officers and instructors that it would not be practicable to use the Permanent Force units – as such in Force “A”. Early in 1939, however, a General Staff memorandum suggested that it was not inconceivable that in case of war the Government might decide to mobilize only a portion of the Mobile Force, “say one complete division and ancillary troops”. In such an event, if the Permanent Force units had been left in Force “B”, they might not reach the theatre of war for a long period. “It is unnecessary to enlarge”, the memorandum proceeded, “on the detrimental effect which such a contingency would have on the Permanent Force.” It recommended that the P.F. units included in the scheme for the 2nd Division (i.e., part of Force “B”) should be transferred to the 1st, and that those included as Corps Troops in Force “B” should be transferred to the Corps Troops of Force “A”. This was done, and so the 1st Division as actually mobilized in September included one Permanent Force battalion in each of its three infantry brigades, while the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery became one of its artillery “brigades” (subsequently reorganized as “regiments”). The two Permanent Force cavalry regiments were not mobilized initially.25

One other question touching the composition of the force is worthy of notice. An intention, entertained during the planning period, of forming a complete French-speaking infantry brigade, was never realized.

Until July of 1939, the Mobile Force planned for mobilization under Defence Scheme No. 3 contained three French-language infantry battalions (including the Royal 22e Régiment, a Permanent Force unit), all in the 5th Infantry Brigade. Now, however, as a result of the decision just described, the Royal 22e was moved to the 1st Division and a fourth French-speaking battalion was designated, being substituted for a Western Ontario unit. The letter to the Districts announcing the revision26 remarked,

This brings the total number of French-speaking infantry units in the force up to four, of which one is in the 1st Division and three are in the 2nd. Provided both divisions are mobilized these can be formed into a complete French-speaking brigade.

At this time, it should be noted, the plan was that each brigade would comprise three infantry battalions and a machine-gun battalion. The CGS in June 1939 used the proposal for a French-speaking brigade as an argument

Page 45

for the mobilization of the whole Mobile Force, and not merely of one division, in case war came:

We are particularly anxious ... that one of the infantry brigades initially mobilized should be predominantly French speaking, with a French speaking commander and staff. This would be quite impossible if only one division were mobilized.27

As we have seen, both divisions were actually mobilized, with the Royal 22e in the 1st Division and the other three French-speaking battalions in the 2nd – all in the 5th Brigade, which included Le Regiment de la Chaudière as machine-gun battalion and was completed by an English-speaking Quebec battalion, the 1st Battalion of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. To create the French-speaking brigade would thus have required merely to exchange the Royal 22e with the Black Watch. However, this was not done – or apparently even suggested – at this time; and it may be conjectured that the reason was the fact that it was so soon decided that the 1st Division was to go overseas, while the role of the 2nd remained for some time a matter of speculation. To have removed the Royal 22e Régiment from the 1st Division would thus not merely have condemned a Permanent Force unit to what might be an inactive role, but would have deprived French Canada of all formal infantry representation in the division likely to be first to see action.

If it is permissible to anticipate, we may note here the later development of this question. When the headquarters of the 5th Brigade was organized – which was not until May 1940 – a French-speaking officer (Brigadier P. E. Leclerc) was appointed to command it and the authorities in Ottawa held to the intention of making it a fully French brigade with a French-speaking staff. One of its French battalions – Les Fusiliers Mont Royal – was, however, sent to Iceland, and when the Brigade arrived in the United Kingdom in the summer of 1940 The Calgary Highlanders (from the 6th Brigade) were temporarily attached to it to replace this unit. Further exploration of the scheme for a French-speaking brigade revealed a most serious obstacle: an existing shortage of qualified French-speaking officers for command and staff appointments. Brigadier Leclerc now suggested that the scheme for a French brigade be abandoned, and the existing temporary organization of the 5th Brigade made permanent. The Divisional Commander, General Odium, urged that this be done, writing to General McNaughton that this plan “would give French and English speaking Canadians wider contacts. Men from the prairie would be working daily with French speaking Canadians from Quebec. The result would be a contribution of great national value to the future life of the Dominion.28 A General McNaughton concurred, and after further discussion and some demur National Defence Headquarters also agreed (19 November 1940).29 The Calgary Highlanders remained in the 5th Brigade and Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal in due time joined the 6th.

Page 46

Canada Goes to War

On 3 September – their final representations to Hitler having failed to check the attack on Poland – Britain and France proceeded to honour their undertaking to that country, and declared war on Germany. In Canada, later the same day, the Chief of the General Staff, as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, inquired whether the Government would now approve instituting the “War Stage”, remarking, “For most effective military defence it is highly desirable that Coast Defence Commanders should no longer be tied down.” The matter was evidently discussed by the Cabinet, and the Minister of National Defence thereafter gave instructions to the Chiefs of Staff concerning an altered version of the War Telegram provided in the Defence Scheme.*

* General Pope, then Director of Military Operations and Intelligence and Secretary of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, recalls that Mr. Mackenzie summoned him to the Privy Council Office to receive these instructions. “On his telling me that we were to take all necessary defence measures which would be required in a state of war and to fire on any blinking German that came within reach of our guns, but that we were not at war, I exclaimed, ‘You are certainly trying to have it both ways’, and Ian, chuckling, replied, ‘Of course we are’”.30

As a result the following telegram was dispatched at 12:50 p.m. on 3 September to the District Officers Commanding the Districts concerned with coast defence:

Take all necessary defence measures which would be required in a state of war. Utmost secrecy of contents to be observed. Contents to be divulged to minimum number of officers.31

We have already noted the Government’s evident determination to meet Parliament uncommitted, in the strictest accordance with its pledges. This continued to be apparent after mobilization. On 29 August the Chiefs of Staff had submitted to the Minister of National Defence a memorandum on “Canada’s National Effort (Armed Forces) in the Early Stages of a Major War”.32 This document, which outlined for the guidance of the Cabinet the forms which effort in the impending crisis “might take”, pointed out that, whatever uncertainty had existed earlier, there was now no doubt of the intention of Britain to dispatch “a major Expeditionary Force” to the help of France. It concluded with the following summary of proposed Canadian army effort:

The Army’s contribution would take the form of the immediate raising of an Army Corps of two divisions and ancillary troops (roughly 60,000 men) in accordance with the Militia Service plan and its despatch abroad as soon as arrangements can be made, in cooperation with the British Government, to transport it and to make good such deficiencies in its war equipment as cannot be supplied from Canadian sources.

On 5 September the Cabinet Defence Committee, with the Prime Minister in the chair, met the Chiefs of Staff and discussed this paper and the measures which had been taken. The Chiefs of Staff pointed out that the forces being

Page 47

mobilized and the equipment asked for were essential for the defence of Canadian territory, and it was indicated that if the Mobile Force were in due course sent overseas other units would have to be called out to provide for the security of Canada.

The Government at this time was thinking in terms of a “moderate” effort. Apparently after a cabinet meeting this same day, instructions33 were sent to the Chiefs of Staff governing the preparation of estimates for the period ending 31 January 1940:

Estimates should be held down to very moderate level.

The proposed large concentrations in training camps should be abandoned (for instance the Health Department have advised that it would be improper to keep troops at Petawawa during the winter months).*

Programmes for the construction of huts should, therefore, not be included in these estimates.

It has been reported to members of the government that some purchases of lumber have been made at Edmonton and Calgary without authority and unauthorized newspaper items appeared today with regard to purchases of large quantities of lumber for Petawawa. Attention is directed to the fact that the Defence Purchasing Board has to be consulted.

The Minister desires that there be no stimulation to recruiting at the present time as it is probable that more men are now available than can be conveniently handled.

* It seems strange that such advice should come from the Department of Pensions and National Health rather than from the Militia medical service. It will be recalled that it had been decided in August that there would be no concentration if mobilization took place late in the season (above, page 39). Definite orders that there would be no concentrations were sent out on 6 September.34 In the event, one corps concentration was carried out: Signal units were collected at Barriefield.

The Militia estimates submitted under these instructions ultimately amounted to $59,520,754. They were based upon a reduction of the planned strength of the Mobile Force from 60,000 to 40,000, and the CGS pointed out that the sum proposed would not “render the troops mobile nor provide necessary accommodation in training camps”.35


We may note here two basic contrasts between the procedure followed in mobilizing the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914 and that used in mobilizing the Canadian Active Service Force in 1939.

In 1914 a mobilization scheme existed for a force similar to that actually mobilized in August of that year. This scheme, however, was not used. On the contrary, the then Minister of Militia cancelled on 31 July 1914 the mobilization plan which had existed since 1911, and substituted a system of improvisation, conducted by Militia Headquarters through direct communication with the individual units and with little or no participation by the Military District staffs.36 This was not a procedure calculated to enhance efficiency, although thanks to the boundless energy of the Minister and the enthusiasm of the units and the population at large it produced better results

Page 48

than might have been anticipated. Nevertheless, the system followed in 1939 – to abide by plans carefully laid in advance for such a contingency – was a much better one.

Secondly, it may be noted that whereas in 1914 the Expeditionary Force was composed in the main of new units – numbered CEF battalions – raised through the agency of Militia regiments but not possessing any direct connection with them, the units of the Active Service Force of 1939 were units of the Canadian Militia, wearing the badges and the titles of regiments long familiar to the public in their districts, and inheriting traditions and esprit de corps which were a part of Canadian history. It is true that in a strictly legal view the units of the Active Service Force were new units having no direct connection with those bearing the same names in the Permanent or Non-Permanent Active Militia; in law, for instance, the 48th Highlanders of Canada, CASF, was not connected with the 48th Highlanders of Canada, NPAM But whatever the law might say there was a close connection in every other respect, and this was recognized by the public, the regiments and the Army at large. The units of the Active Service Force were regarded as being what, for most practical purposes, they were: service battalions of their militia regiments.


Before passing on to discuss the problems of mobilization as they presented themselves to the Districts and the units, it is convenient to take note of the further development of the situation at Ottawa and events following the meeting of Parliament.

The Houses met, in accordance with the summons, on 7 September, and the Government let it be known that the adoption of the Address in reply from the Speech from the Throne would be considered as approving the Government’s policy of “immediate participation in the war”. On 8 September the Prime Minister told the House of Commons in general terms what had been done already for the defence and security of Canada, which was, he remarked, Canada’s “primary task and responsibility”. As to measures to be taken in cooperation with the United Kingdom, Mr. King stated that the Government was in consultation with that of Britain and that more information was required before firm decisions could be made. “The question of an expeditionary force or units for service overseas”, he said, “is particularly one of wide reaching significance which will require the fullest examination.” The debate ended on the evening of 9 September, the Address being adopted without a division. Only four members had spoken against the Government’s policy of declaring war. The following day, accordingly, the King gave his approval to a proclamation declaring that a state of war with the German Reich existed in Canada as of and from that date. The proclamation was published in a special issue of the Canada Gazette the

Page 49

same day. Thus Canada, for the second time in a generation, went to war with Germany. She had been formally neutral for one week after the declaration of war by Britain.

Although, in the light of all that had taken place and the measures already in effect, it might have seemed that to send the War Telegram was now almost a work of supererogation, it was duly dispatched by the Chief of the General Staff on 10 September:–

District Officers Commanding,

All Military Districts.

GS 201 Reference Defence Scheme Number Three

War has broken out with Germany.37

Parliament was prorogued on 13 September, but before the short session ended the members had made some financial provision for prosecuting the war for the remainder of the financial year (i.e., to 31 March 1940). The War Appropriation Act which was passed was for the modest sum of $100 million; this included $16,454,120 already authorized by Governor General’s Warrants. The Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. J. L. Ilsley) had explained to the Commons that “approximately $50,000,000” of the year’s regular defence appropriations remained unspent. This would be available in addition to the new appropriation. Mr. Ilsley explained,38 “The cost of a war effort by Canada does not lend itself to precise calculations in advance”, and added, “Therefore the financial process must take a form permitting financial decisions to be made as need arises, and not by settling now a fixed plan which must be rigidly observed, irrespective of what the necessities may involve.”

Mobilizing the Units of the Active Service Force

The Military District staffs, knowing what units were slated for mobilization under Defence Scheme No. 3, had made their own preparations accordingly. One consisted of drafting mobilization orders for the units, and these were issued as soon as the Mobilization Telegram arrived at the District Headquarters. They dealt with such matters as the establishment* upon which the unit was to mobilize, the place of mobilization and the accommodation to be used, procedure to be followed in recruiting (which was laid down in a document, issued by National Defence Headquarters on 15 May 1939, entitled “Recruiting Memorandum No. 1”), arrangements to be made for messing, etc. Commanding Officers were referred to the pamphlet Mobilization Instructions for the Canadian Militia, which had been printed

* An establishment is “the authorized composition of a unit” expressed in numbers and ranks of personnel and numbers and types of weapons and transport.

Page 50

in 1937. Units were allotted blocks of regimental numbers to be allocated to their recruits. On this basis the mobilizing regiments proceeded to make their arrangements.

In some cases, the first step taken was to parade the Non-Permanent Active Militia unit, advise its members of mobilization, and call for volunteers. Thus we find one urban infantry regiment (one of the relatively few units whose war diaries give a fairly adequate record of this phase) setting down the fact that on 2 September it held a mobilization parade and called for volunteers for its Active Service Force battalion. It recorded that 30 officers and 251 other ranks were on parade, and that 29 officers and 156 other ranks declared their willingness to serve. This was probably a fairly representative as well as a very creditable showing. It may be noted that since the battalion was mobilizing to a war establishment, including “first reinforcements”, of 26 officers and 774 other ranks, the majority of the men obviously had to be obtained by enlistment from the general public. This was the case very generally, for as a result of conditions in the years preceding 1939 the strength of all NPAM units was far below that required for war establishment. Moreover, a proportion of the officers and other ranks of these units were of an age or medical category unsuitable for active service. This particular battalion was at full strength as early as 19 September.

In spite of the circumstances described, the actual contribution of personnel made by the peacetime forces was very large. The fact is that almost half of the 58,337 men and women who joined the Active Service Force in September 1939 were then serving or had served earlier either in the Permanent Force or the Non-Permanent Active Militia – 4986 in the former and 24,089 in the latter. A total of 1252 had seen service in the forces of the United Kingdom or foreign countries.39

The proportion of the NPAM strength which volunteered for the CASF varied very widely between units, and the records are incomplete. The unit recorded as containing “the highest percentage of peacetime personnel” of any inspected by General McNaughton in the autumn of 1939 was the 9th Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, in Montreal; no less than 89 per cent of its NPAM personnel had been enlisted and found fit for service.40 But even where the numerical proportion was much smaller the NPAM contribution was very important. The war diaries make it clear that the Militia provided practically all the commissioned officers and (at least equally significant) the warrant officers, for the units mobilized in 1939. Of the other ranks, only a minority normally came directly from the Militia. Even so, the NPAM endowed each mobilized unit with an invaluable nucleus of partially-trained non-commissioned officers and soldiers, who were tremendously useful in getting the machinery of

Page 51

mobilization going, in providing a framework for the unit and in setting up a solid connection between the Militia regiment and the service battalion which served to maintain the integrity of regimental spirit and traditions. The men enlisted from the general public were thus received into an existing family and made to feel themselves sharers in the inheritance of an honourable name.

It would be difficult, indeed, to over-estimate the debt of the wartime Army to the Non-Permanent Active Militia. It provided the foundation upon which the great new structure was built. It produced, to no small extent, the leaders who built and developed that structure. And it gave the Army a group of personnel, officers and men, who continued to play dominant parts in it even when the great majority of the Army’s members had come to be volunteers of no militia experience recruited from civil life. It is a notable fact that, at the end of hostilities with Germany in 1945, three of Canada’s five fighting divisions were commanded by citizen soldiers who in 1939 had been captains or majors in the Non-Permanent Active Militia. And if further evidence of the Militia’s contribution is required, one might rehearse the list of those who won the Commonwealth’s highest awards for gallantry. Of the ten Victoria Crosses won by the Army during this Second World War, six were awarded to former members of the Active Militia – five from the Non-Permanent Active Militia and one from the Permanent Force. Of the three Canadian soldiers who won the George Cross, two had served in the Non-Permanent Active Militia.* These facts suggest that the pre-war citizen force made to the wartime service a contribution remarkable for quality even more than quantity.

A word must be said also of the little Permanent Force, which played in 1939 and throughout the war a part out of all proportion to its size. On 31 March 1939 the “P.F.” had on its strength just 455 officers.41 The events of the next six years were to prove that the average quality of these officers was very high-extraordinarily high, when one considers how limited, on the whole, were the attractions of a military career in pre-war Canada. Other things being equal, a man who has devoted his life to the study of military affairs should be a more useful soldier than an amateur; and it was fortunate that the country had a few professionals available in the crisis. In 1914 a British regular officer was appointed to command the 1st Canadian Division; the Canadian Corps was not commanded by a Canadian until 1917; and throughout the First World War the first-grade staff appointments in the

* Victoria Cross: Lt. Col. C. C. I. Merritt (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, NPAM); Major P. Triquet (Royal 22e Régiment, PT.): Major J. K. Mahony (Westminster Regiment (M.G.), NPAM); Major D. V. Currie (12th Divisional Signals, and subsequently King’s Own Rifles of Canada (M.G.), NPAM); Major F. A. Tilston (Essex Scottish, NPAM); CSM J. R. Osborn (Winnipeg Grenadiers (M.G.), NPAM).

George Cross: Lieut. J. M. S. Patton (Queen’s University Contingent, COTC, NPAM) and Corporal James Hendry (Algonquin Regiment, NPAM).

Page 52

Corps were, with few if any exceptions, held by officers of the British Regular Army. In 1939 Canada had her own regular soldiers for such tasks. As the war progressed and the non-professionals gained practical experience, and particularly after the Army got into large-scale action, the distinction between the two groups became more and more blurred and the P.F. officer became somewhat less important; but the Army could not have done without him in the early years, and he – and the other ranks of the Permanent Force also – continued to make a great contribution to the end.


Two special features stand out in the exiguous unit records of the mobilization period: the anxiety of the “old soldiers” of 1914–18 to serve once more, and the extent to which the high medical standards in effect at this time resulted in rejections among these and other would-be recruits. In Montreal the war diary of the Canadian Black Watch42 gives us a glimpse of conditions during these hectic early days:

Many of the Regiment’s originals unfortunately failed to pass the medical examination for various reasons, chief amongst these being “over age”. These men, mainly veterans of the Great War 1914–1918, will be sadly missed as the accumulation of knowledge gathered over a period of years with the Regiment would have been an invaluable asset during the Battalion’s preliminary training. ... Amongst the first rush of recruits were many ex-members of the Regiment and a remarkable number of ex-Service men. ...

The actual number of veterans of the Canadian Expeditionary Force of 1914–18 recorded as attested into the Active Service Force during September 1939 was 4206; of these, 836 were officers, including five nursing sisters.43 The number would doubtless have been much higher but for the medical standards and the age limit. Many men, it is clear, were also rejected for possessing too many dependents. Recruiting Memorandum No. 1 contained the following provision:

In carrying out enlistments, men without dependents are preferable; married men with four or more dependents should not be enlisted.

This vague instruction was interpreted in some places, notably in Montreal, as a prohibition against enlisting married men. Le Regiment de Maisonneuve, for instance, recorded that orders had been received to take only bachelors, and that married applicants (“ils sont legions”) had to be refused. Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal also refused married men, and the Canadian Black Watch recorded that, at one stage at any rate, they were accepting “single men only of good bearing and education”.44 This matter was discussed by the Defence Council on 14 September, and the Minister ruled that dependents’ allowance should be paid in respect of a maximum of three dependents (wife and two children), and that men enlisted with more than this number should be given the option of accepting the restriction or being discharged.*

* At this time the rate of dependents’ allowance for men below the rank of Warrant Officer Class I was $60 per month for a wife and $12 per month for each child. It may be noted that the basic pay of a private was $1.30 per day.

Page 53

This limitation, which had in fact been included in Recruiting Memorandum No. 1, remained in effect until November 1941, when it was relaxed to permit payments for a third and fourth child for soldiers of ranks below Warrant Officer Class I. In January 1943 it was further relaxed; all ranks could then draw dependents’ allowance for up to six dependent children, and a dependent father or mother in addition.45

The Response of the Country

It is time to turn to the statistics of enlistment as they presented themselves at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. On 6 September, five days after the mobilization order went out, the strength of the Active Service Force was reported as 22,878, more than half of it accounted for by the units manning coast and anti-aircraft defences or guarding vulnerable points. On 24 September the total had grown to 56,534, of whom 38,986 were in the Mobile Force.* On 30 September it had risen further, being reported as 61,497.46 Corrected statistics for the whole month of September, prepared later, show a total of 58,337 men and women actually taken into the Active Service Force (55,255 enlistments for general service, 3001 appointments to commissions, 81 appointments of nursing sisters).47 It was, as might be expected, by far the largest single month for enlistments of the whole war. And when one remembers in addition the great (but unrecorded) numbers of volunteers who came forward only to be rejected because of age, medical unfitness or other reasons, and whose offers find no reflection in the figures just quoted, it is apparent how strongly the spirit of service and sacrifice was moving in the country at this moment. The mood and approach, it is true, were very different from those of 1914, when, we are told, “The strains of ‘Rule Britannia’ rang through Canada from ocean to ocean”.48 A message49 from Military District No. 13 (with Headquarters at Calgary) strikes the keynote of 1939 in one of the areas where the response was readiest:

Recruiting at all stations MD 13 exceeding expectations. Best type of men offering their services in numbers that tax capacity of medical boards. Units will have no difficulty in recruiting to strength well within time limit. Complete absence of jingoism or war excitement. Men volunteering doing so with full realization of their responsibility.

On 14 September the Chief of the General Staff told the Defence Council that recruiting was proceeding satisfactorily apart from minor troubles. The strength of the CASF at that date was just over 39,000 men, of whom

* This includes District Depots and Internment Camp staffs, not included in the figures for 6 September. Headquarters staffs and some detachments were not included until the end of the month.

Page 54

22,500 were in the Mobile Force. The Adjutant General stated that there were at this time “more men enlisted than there had been in the same period in 1914”, which was certainly true.50 On 26 September General Anderson reported to the Chiefs of Staff Committee that there were some 56,000 men under arms, but that the infantry “was not coming along as well as might be desired”.51

There was inevitably considerable variation between the results obtained by different units and in different regions of the country. Some units filled their establishments very rapidly; for example, by 12 September the 48th Highlanders of Canada (in Toronto) and The Edmonton Regiment had both passed the 500 mark; and The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada (Vancouver) and The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.) completed recruiting by 22 September and 30 September respectively.52 The two medium batteries mobilizing in Prince Edward Island were both full by 24 September, when recruiting in such units was ordered suspended.53 Some units had more difficulty; among these were certain Permanent Force regiments. Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was still about 200 under establishment at the end of September, and the strength of the Royal 22e Régiment was only 338 all ranks.54 Notes prepared by the CGS for presentation to the Defence Council on 24 October (when general recruiting had long been suspended) review the situation at that time in the infantry units of the two divisions:–

In regard to the Brigades of the 1st Division, with the exception of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment in the 1st Infantry Brigade which is 39 short, the Brigade is up to Establishment, 2 units being each 19 in excess of Establishment.

The 2nd Infantry Brigade is practically up to Establishment, the Saskatoon Light Infantry being 13 under Establishment and the PPCLI 24 deficient.

The situation in the 3rd Infantry Brigade is still not good. The Royal 22e Régiment is 235 under Establishment, the West Nova Scotia Regiment 204, the Carleton and York Regiment 181 and the Royal Montreal Regiment 21.

In respect to the 2nd Division, the 4th Infantry Brigade is up to Establishment except for a few personnel in the case of 3 of the units.

Of the 5th Infantry Brigade, 3 units are still under Establishment, the Black Watch 41, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal 103 and Le Regiment de la Chaudière 381.

In the 6th Infantry Brigade, the Calgary Highlanders have completed to Establishment but the South Saskatchewan Regiment is deficient 360. The other two units, the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and the Winnipeg Grenadiers, are short 10 and 23 respectively.

General McNaughton’s inspection report written at the end of October mentions that the deficiency in both the Carleton and York and the West Nova Scotia Regiments was due not to shortage of recruits, but to accommodation and clothing difficulties which made it impracticable to recruit to full strength.

To afford a general view of the situation in the country, we append a table showing the strength of the Active Service Force by Military Districts, as it was reported on 30 September.

Page 55

Strength of the Canadian Active Service Force55

30 September 1939

Military District Headquarters Authorized Strength (Mobile Force Only) As of 1 September Actual Strength (Mobile Force) Actual Strength (Other Units) Actual strength (Total)
M.D. 1 London, Ont. 5,794 4,735 267 5,002
M.D. 2 Toronto, Ont. 12,199 9,401 1,917 11,318
M.D. 3 Kingston, Ont. 5,959 4,273 1,109 5,382
M.D. 4 Montreal, P.Q. 11,000 6,019 1,784 7,803
M.D. 5 Quebec, P.Q. 3,239 1,506 908 2,414
M.D. 6 Halifax, N.S. 1,614 1,226 5,824 7,050
M.D. 7 Saint John, N.B. 1,512 1,239 2,340 3,579
M.D. 10 Winnipeg, Man. 5,084 4,027 549 4,576
M.D. 11 Victoria, B.C. 2,588 1,880 4,806 6,686
M.D. 12 Regina, Sask. 4,647 2,166 317 2,483
M.D. 13 Calgary, Alta. 4,196 4,068 418 4,486
Miscellaneous, unallotted to Districts 2,877
NDHQ Ottawa, Oat. 718 718
Total 60,709 40,540 20,957 61,497

NOTE: The disparity between the authorized strength of the Mobile Force on 1 September and its actual strength on 30 September might be taken to indicate a serious deficiency in recruits. In fact, however, recruiting had been suspended during the month in a large number of units. As some of these had taken on considerable numbers of men before recruiting was stopped, it is not possible to give a reliable total for authorized strength for 30 September. It also proved impossible to provide totals of authorized strength for “Other Units”; in certain cases, no establishments are to be found. If all the units authorized on 1 September had been recruited to full establishment, the total strength of the Active Service Force would have been not far short of 80,000 men”.56

“Other Units” include Coast Defence and Anti-Aircraft troops (drawn from the coastal Districts); District and National Defence Headquarters staffs and Corps detachments of the Permanent Force; District Depots, and Armoury and Internment Camp guards; and guards on Vulnerable Points. Strengths of existing Training Centres and the Royal Military College, however, are not included. Of the “Miscellaneous” total, 2566 is the authorized strength of six units (two anti-tank regiments, two anti-tank batteries and two searchlight batteries) whose mobilization was suspended. The remaining 321 is the authorized strength of the various formation headquarters; actual strength figures for these, so far as they existed, are not available.

The figures of actual strength are those reported to National Defence Headquarters at the time. The total is larger by about 4200 than the adjusted enlistment figures prepared after the war. These show enlistments as 58,337 and discharges as 1096, leaving a balance of 57,241 all ranks at 30 September. The disparity may be accounted for, in part at least, by the possible inclusion in the contemporary figures of Non-Permanent personnel still serving in Coast Defence or Anti-Aircraft units or guarding vulnerable points.

This table indicates that there were two provinces where recruiting was sluggish at this period. One was Saskatchewan, where Military District No. 12 had reported on 12 September, “Recruiting very slow.” The other was Quebec. With respect to the French-speaking province, however, it is well to add that the war diaries of Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal and Le Regiment de Maisonneuve testify that in both these regiments the personnel of the pre-war

Page 56

Non-Permanent Active Militia unit volunteered for service en masse or virtually so, and the latter regiment was fully up to strength by 29 September. Military District No. 4 (Montreal) reported on 10 September that French-speaking units had had more applications for enlistment than English-speaking ones, but medical rejections had been higher in the former. The reasons suggested for the difficulties in Saskatchewan were the very large foreign-born population there and the effect of the harvest season in a predominantly rural province.57


For every unit, mobilization was a time of many difficulties, of which the problem of attracting recruits was normally one of the least. The worst were those concerning accommodation, clothing and equipment.

Accommodation for the newly mobilized units was very difficult to find, in spite of the measures taken before the outbreak of war. Much use was made of available public buildings, particularly exhibition buildings; and notwithstanding the Government’s initial reluctance the construction of hutments began very soon in many places. Nevertheless, some units simply could not house their recruits, and in certain cases in the larger cities the latter continued to live in their own homes for many weeks, merely reporting for daily parades. This procedure necessarily had a decidedly adverse effect upon discipline and upon the progress of training.

The clothing situation caused serious complaints, which continued for some months. Stocks of clothing available in militia stores were small and of obsolete pattern. Orders for the new-pattern “battledress” were placed only after the outbreak of war, and some weeks passed before it began to become available for issue. The story of this particular item may be outlined here, merely as an example.

The adoption of battledress in the British Army was authorized by a “War Office Periodical Letter” dated 31 March 1939.58 Samples of the new clothing did not reach Canada until July, but on the 13th of that month the Dress and Clothing Committee, Militia Service, recommended that Canada adopt it. A query by the Master General of the Ordnance as to its suitability for summer training seems to have caused some delay, and the MGO submitted the recommendation to the Military Members of the Defence Council only on 29 August. By this time one Canadian manufacturer had already been asked to make a sample suit, so that any manufacturing difficulties might be discovered at once. On 1 September the Chief of the General Staff concurred in the adoption of battledress, and on the following day the Minister of National Defence likewise approved.59 Stocks of cloth sufficient for some 20,000 suits were then on hand, having been purchased under an appropriation made in the main Estimates in the spring of 1939. By the time of Canada’s declaration of war contract demands for 100,000

Page 57

suits had been prepared by the Department of National Defence. These were passed to the Defence Purchasing Board on 16 September.60 Tenders were invited by the Board on 23 September, and on 2 October orders were placed with five companies for quantities worth $194,600. Cloth, apart from that on hand, had to be manufactured and dyed; it was made to National Research Council specifications. Production now went forward rapidly, and the first consignments of battledress were shipped to the Districts the last week in October.61 Canadian battledress proved to be of excellent quality.

The situation with respect to boots was particularly difficult; the supply on hand was relatively small,* and the recruits’ civilian footwear fell to pieces rapidly.

* There were 54,468 pairs in store early in 1939; but 10,091 pairs were issued to the Non-Permanent Active Militia in the summer before mobilization. The first specific provision ever made for boots for the NPAM was that in the Supplementary Estimates passed in the spring of 1939, and as a result of some argument over specifications the order did not go to the Defence Purchasing Board until 24 August.62

District Officers Commanding were authorized on 21 September to make local purchases of such boots as were to be had.63 The war diary of The Royal Regiment of Canada records that on 25 September the Commanding Officer was constrained to accept with gratitude the offer of a public-spirited Toronto lady to provide 130 pairs of boots and socks for his men. Supplies of blankets, socks and underwear were similarly inadequate, and these shortages also produced many complaints before they were remedied.

One quotation from a unit diary (that of The Carleton and York Regiment for 9 September) will serve to illustrate the problem:

By this time the shortage of blankets, beds, uniforms and boots began to assume a serious aspect. No paillasses whatever were available; approximately half of the men had no beds or cots; blankets were issued while they lasted at two per man, and many men who had no blankets at all were issued with two greatcoats. Only sixty-six pairs of boots could be secured and there was a great shortage of uniforms and caps. Many men who were reporting in with inferior footwear and light cheap clothing had to be excused from training parades. There was a great deal of suffering from colds and sore feet.

These shortages were inevitable in the circumstances of 1939. They could have been avoided, but only by the expenditure, during preceding years, of far larger sums of money than those which had been provided for the Militia by Parliament.

The impossibility of providing the men who were volunteering with even the simplest necessaries certainly helped to produce at early dates a series of decisions to suspend recruiting in units of certain categories. As early as 2 September, indeed, District Officers Commanding were advised of 31 miscellaneous units whose mobilization might be deferred at their discretion. Four days later mobilization of these units was postponed “until further notice”. On the same day (6 September) consideration was given to postponing the

Page 58

mobilization of 47 more units which, thanks to the abandonment of the scheme for concentration camps, were not yet urgently required. The Minister of National Defence decided that this should be done in units which had not yet commenced recruiting; those which had commenced were to continue. As a result, recruiting was deferred in nine more units; the total was now 40, involving 7362 all ranks.64 The Adjutant General would have preferred to postpone recruiting in a still longer list, pointing out that many of the ancillary units would be merely “a fifth wheel to the coach throughout the winter months, unless the Mobile Force is to be used as such sooner than appears likely at present”.65 The matter was again discussed with the Minister, and on 11 September recruiting was suspended in 30 more ancillary units, the great majority of which had begun taking on men. By this date, then, recruiting had been stopped in 70 units, with a total establishment of over 15,000 all ranks.66

On 22 September mobilization was further slowed down when telegrams were sent to the coastal Military Districts suspending recruiting for rifle and machine-gun battalions engaged on coast-defence duties. On 24 September an order went out deferring immediately all recruiting except for infantry and machine-gun units of the 1st and 2nd Divisions. On 11 October a further telegram put a stop to recruiting in the infantry and machine-gun units of the 2nd Division.67 These suspensions were evidently the result, in great part, of the equipment situation and the existing uncertainty concerning the future employment of the force apart from the 1st Division. As noted below, however (page 70), economy was also a motive. The suspension of recruiting was necessary if technical units as requested by the United Kingdom were to be provided without exceeding the expenditures which had been approved.

The Decision to Send Troops Overseas

When the mobilization orders were issued on 1 September (on which date, it may be recalled once more, Canada was not at war) the use to be made of the Mobile Force had of course not yet been decided, and decisions emerged only after consultation with the British Government and consideration in Ottawa.

It is evident, that, in accordance with its policy of avoiding any measure which could be interpreted as a commitment to any special line of action in a future emergency, the Canadian Government had hitherto engaged in no discussions with the Government of the United Kingdom concerning the military measures which would be desirable if war came and Canada was involved. Now, on 3 September, the day on which the British Government

Page 59

declared war, an exploratory query was dispatched to London. This telegram,68 sent on a “Prime-Minister-to-Prime-Minister” basis, is of such importance that it should be printed here in full:

1. As you are aware the Canadian Parliament will meet on Thursday of this week.

2. In view of the announcement which you made this morning, indicating that in spite of your unceasing and persistent efforts for peace, the action and attitude of the German Government had resulted in a state of war developing between the United Kingdom and Germany, the Canadian Government, in addition to the defence and precautionary measures which it is taking under the War Measures Act and other administrative powers, will recommend to Parliament further action. The measures to be proposed are now under consideration.

3. As regards military activities our primary task will naturally be the defence of Canada, which under present circumstances is a more pressing and urgent undertaking than it was in the last war. We are also considering to what extent we could undertake as necessity required and our means permitted action in the Western Atlantic region, particularly in Newfoundland and the West Indies. As to further military cooperation we should be glad to receive your appreciation of the probable theatre and character of main British and allied military operations, in order that we may consider the policy to be adopted by Canada.

4. We should also like to have your Government’s present appreciation of the nature and extent of British and allied requirements as regards supplies and particularly the relative urgency of the needs for various commodities which Canadian producers could furnish. As regards munitions the despatch of the British Mission now on its way and the consultations which have already taken place should make it possible to reach prompt conclusions on detailed arrangements. Presumably the negotiations which have been taking place in the United Kingdom for the purchase of war materials and food stuffs will be completed and developed. The Canadian Government is considering what general measures of economic organization and control will be required in this country.

Three days later, on 6 September, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs replied, expressing gratitude for the message and outlining the general needs of the situation.69 He pointed out that there would be a large requirement for Canadian dollars and that any steps which might assist in “the financing of desired purchases” would be most helpful. With respect to strictly military assistance, his telegram said:

As regards further military cooperation, our appreciation of the probable theatre of war and the character of main British and Allied military operations will be communicated separately as soon as possible.

Generally, so far as immediate steps are concerned, provision of naval vessels and facilities and of air force personnel would be of most assistance, and in particular at present time supply of any pilots and aircraft crews available is a capital requirement. As regards land forces, policy here is to avoid a rush of volunteers such as occurred in the last war and to expand by means of a controlled intake. The chief requirement is for certain technical personnel.

On the same day (6 September), the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in Ottawa (Sir Gerald Campbell) handed to the Secretary of State for External Affairs a memorandum70 describing the specific measures which the United Kingdom Government had had in mind in framing the foregoing

Page 60

telegram. It was definite and detailed, and dealt separately with the Navy, Army and Air Force. Only the section relating to the Army need be quoted:

15. While it was hoped that Canada would exert her full national effort as in last war, even to the extent of the eventual despatch of an expeditionary force, it is realised that no statement of policy on these lines is likely to be possible at the moment. Would it be possible however, to consider as an immediate programme

(a) the despatch of a small Canadian unit which would take its place alongside the United Kingdom troops.

(b) the provision of technical units, particularly signal, royal engineers, ordnance, medical, transportation (particularly railway construction and operating) units for attachment to United Kingdom formation

(c) technical personnel for enlistment in United Kingdom units, particularly fitters, electricians, mechanics, instrument mechanics, alternatively motor transport drivers, and officers with similar qualifications.

The British Government had thus indicated that it hoped for a large Canadian effort on land; it asked for some sort of token force at an early date; and in addition it asked for technical ancillary units, and technical personnel for enlistment in British units. At the same time it had carefully refrained from urging large immediate measures and had given some impression that the organization of considerable land forces was scarcely a matter of urgency. On this basis the Canadian authorities proceeded to conduct their own discussions.

On 8 September the Canadian General Staff submitted observations on the British memorandum.71 Suggesting that this indicated serious concern on the part of the British Government “over their ability to provide the manpower to maintain the war on land while meeting their commitments at sea and in the air”, it went on to remark that the mobilized Mobile Force could be dispatched abroad without endangering the security of Canada, and could leave within three months, though necessarily with limited equipment. Equipment and training would have to be completed overseas. It mentioned that the ancillary troops of the Mobile Force included units of all the types mentioned in the British request for technical troops. If it was desired to send a token force, it could be drawn from the Mobile Force and sent abroad in less than three months; but technical units, whether sent singly or as components of an expeditionary force, could not be ready to leave Canada until after about the same period. As for permitting technical personnel to enlist in the United Kingdom forces, this, it was pointed out, was “difficult to reconcile with a possible decision to despatch an appreciable number of technical units overseas”.

The matter was now up to the Cabinet. During the next few days, while Ministers discussed the matter, Ottawa buzzed with rumours, accurate and inaccurate. On 11 September the Minister of National Defence referred in the House of Commons to the possibility of using the Mobile Force overseas; and by 16 September decisions had been taken. On that day the three

Page 61

Chiefs of Staff met a Cabinet Committee and received the Government’s instructions. There appears to be no formal record of this meeting, but the gist of the instructions as they affected the Militia was thus summarized by the Chief of the General Staff in a memorandum72 sent to the Minister of National Defence later the same day:

a. that the despatch of a large expeditionary force as referred to in para. 15 of the despatch from the United Kingdom Government forwarded under cover of Sir Gerald Campbell’s letter of the 6th instant, would not be considered at the present time, and

b that the Canadian unit referred to in para. 15(a) which would take its place alongside the United Kingdom troops, would be a division.”

On this basis the CGS made detailed recommendations.73 He suggested that Canada “offer to send and maintain one division” (the essential decision on this point, it would seem, had already been taken), and further recommended that she offer to send such technical units as the British Government might ask for, “with the proviso that they shall remain Canadian units and return to Canadian control, should they be required for a Canadian Expeditionary Force, should it be later decided to send one”. His advice was that individuals “be not sent over to enlist into United Kingdom units”.

General Anderson’s long-term recommendations for the effort of Canadian land forces ran as follows:

It is recommended that Canada should aim at having in the field ultimately a force consisting of a Canadian Corps of not less than two divisions and ancillary troops, it being considered that only in this way will it be possible to satisfy the demands of the numbers desiring to serve and in view of the fact that the manpower of Canada could maintain as much as six divisions, a cavalry division and ancillary troops. As time goes on it might be found desirable to send one or more further divisions to join the Canadian Corps of two divisions. This, however, would depend upon developments.

. . . It will, of course, be necessary to maintain a continual flow of reinforcements for any units sent abroad, entailing the establishing of training centres at home and, in order to replace casualties quickly, reinforcement units abroad.

. . . It will also be necessary to maintain an effective force in Canada to meet any eventuality that may arise. At present we are mobilizing, as such a force, a Corps of two divisions and ancillary troops. As units are sent abroad it is considered that they should be drawn from this mobilized force and replaced in Canada by calling out and training further Non-Permanent Active Militia units which have not yet been ordered to mobilize. It is not considered, however, that it will be necessary to replace, at present at least, any of the ancillary units sent abroad.

The Chief of the General Staff went on to consider the question of the training and dispatch of the expeditionary division. Training in winter in Canada could not go beyond an elementary stage, while for more advanced training complete equipment was essential, and this, we have already seen, was not available there. Production of equipment in Canada would be a long task, and immediate supplies must come from British sources. “In view of the above wrote the CGS, “it is considered that the Division should

Page 62

proceed abroad as soon as the United Kingdom can equip it. ... After receiving their full equipment in England, troops will require training with it from a month to three months before proceeding to a theatre of war.” As for the technical units, since these were for attachment to British formations they should go forward as soon after they were ready as the War Office should require. Anderson remarked, “It would appear reasonable that Canada limit her commitments in respect to these units so as to exclude cost of equipping them, at least until such time as they come under Canadian Corps Command in the field”.

The CGS’s general comments on the equipment problem are of interest:–

Speaking generally, the only equipment available at present for a unit being despatched overseas is personal equipment and rifles. Our other equipment, including guns, is mostly obsolete or obsolescent and would be required in this country for training purposes. All equipment required has to be obtained from manufacturers in Canada or the United Kingdom. The United States is not a suitable source of supply unless the equipment were specially made to War Office specifications, as otherwise difficulties would arise in respect to maintenance in the field. The United States as a source of supply is, therefore, not contemplated.

It is impossible to say just what equipment will be supplied from Canada. It will probably be found desirable for Canada to concentrate on certain lines while the United Kingdom is concentrating on the others. This is a matter for arrangement between the two countries which, it is presumed, will be looked into by the Department of Munitions and Supply.*

It is also impossible to say at the moment just when any particular equipment will be available and, in consequence, just when the funds to pay for it will be required. Some of the major items of equipment, such as field guns, anti-tank guns, tanks, etc., will for some time to come have to be supplied from the United Kingdom as the time necessary for production in Canada will probably be not less than a year and a half.

New equipment will also be required for training in Canada, for which funds have not been provided, amounting to $10,800,00.

On the same day Anderson dispatched a telegram to Colonel G. P. Loggie, who since 1937 had been on duty at Canada House, London, as Ordnance representative for the Department of National Defence, advising him that consideration was being given to sending a token force of one division, the date of departure to depend upon availability of modern equipment in England.74 Loggie was instructed to consult the War Office immediately and report by cable when such equipment might be expected. Before he could reply, the Canadian Government, on 19 September, announced that it had decided “to organize and train a division to be available as an expeditionary force, if and when required”. A second division would be “kept under arms as a further measure of preparedness”. “Pending the organization of these two divisions”, further recruiting would be deferred.75

* This Department replaced the War Supply Board, which had itself replaced the Defence Purchasing Board. Though authorized by an Act assented to on 13 September 1939, the Department came into existence only on 9 April 1940, by virtue of Order in Council PC 1435 of that date.

Page 63

On 20 September the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (General Sir Edmund Ironside) cabled General Anderson76 expressing appreciation of the Canadian offer, stating that he would “welcome Canadian troops at an early date” and suggesting that the division concentrate in England and complete its training there. He gave the assurance that “Canadian units will not go into action with a lesser scale of equipment than British Divisions” and added that a War Office committee had been formed under the Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff, with Colonel Loggie and Lt. Col. E. L. M. Burns (another Canadian officer then in England) as members, to study accommodation, equipment and training facilities for the Canadian troops. Loggie cabled the following day,77 mentioning that the War Office contemplated including the Canadian division in a “contingent” to be sent overseas (i.e. to the Continent) in about six months. At the same time he wrote by air mail78 reporting in detail the result of his conversations with the War Office. The letter ran in part:–

The proposal to send Canadian troops overseas was warmly welcomed by all concerned and we were assured that everything possible would be done to ensure that they reach the front as early as their state of training warranted. You are no doubt aware that the allies are faced with a serious situation in the Western theatre and that the need for additional divisions is acute. From the strategical, political and moral points of view, there is every reason to expedite the despatch of Canadian troops to this country and subsequently to France. It was made clear that the reputation Canadians earned in the last war has not been forgotten, and that, except for regulars and one or two territorial divisions, there are no troops whom the C. in C. would rather have with him.

The decision to send a force overseas involved changing the basis on which men had so far been enlisted into the Active Service Force. The Minister of National Defence had explained to the House of Commons on 11 September that under the Militia Act (Section 68) no man could be required to serve in the field continuously for a longer period than one year, unless he had volunteered to serve for a longer period or “for the war”. He suggested that if a decision were made to use part of the Active Service Force overseas the men might be “reenlisted for overseas service”. The statement issued on 19 September confirmed that this would be done, the men of both divisions being re-attested on a basis of volunteering for service in Canada or elsewhere for the duration of the war. Orders were shortly sent out that the whole of the Active Service Force was to be re-attested in this way.79

Very few men took advantage of the opportunity to leave the service which the new order afforded. The war diary of The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment for 30 September describes the order’s reception in that unit. It was probably typical of many:–

During the afternoon parade at Picton the terms of the “Supplementary Declaration”, Form MFM 2(x) were read and explained to Picton Coys., and they were told that they might have a short time in which to discuss these terms and deliberate over them. However one strong voice called out: “I don’t need

Page 64

any time on mine! Bring on the declaration! I’m all set to sign!” This was the signal for quite an outburst of enthusiasm, and there was a period of shouting and cheering. The upshot was that when the Coys. were called upon to sign for overseas service “D” Coy. turned out to a man, but five members of “C” Coy. refused to sign and were heartily booed as a result.

In all, only five officers* and 532 other ranks of the CASF declined to re-attest and were struck off the strength, “services no longer required”.80

On 20 September, the Chief of the General Staff wrote to the Minister of National Defence as follows:–81

Now that it has been decided to prepare a division for despatch overseas, and with a view to maintaining generally Provincial representation in accordance with population, I recommend that the composition of the first Division to proceed abroad be the units called out and mobilizing as units of First Division CASF

This having been approved, the appointment of a commander and the organization of divisional headquarters followed. CASF Routine Order No. 69 (18 October 1939) announced the appointment of Major General A. G. L. McNaughton as “Inspector-General of Units of the 1st Canadian Division”, effective 5 October. It was not practicable for him to exercise command over units scattered all across Canada, but it was intended that he should be appointed General Officer Commanding before the Division went overseas, and this was done by Routine Order No. 180 (2 December 1939) with effect 17 October. General McNaughton, who, as already noted, had relinquished the appointment of Chief of the General Staff in 1935 on accepting the appointment of President of the National Research Council, thus returned to active military duty and assumed the most significant Canadian field command. On 25 October, following a fortnight devoted to problems of organization, he left for a rapid inspection tour of the units, which took him from Charlottetown to Esquimalt. His reports written as a result of this tour deal at length with the problems of accommodation and supply, which were still a serious embarrassment, though the situation was now much better than it had been.82

The Technical Troops for Britain

The question of the technical units requested by the British Government on 6 September had stood over until a decision was made on sending a Canadian token force. On 24 September the Chief of the General Staff sent a memorandum to the Minister of National Defence on this matter.83 He pointed out that the estimates recently approved provided for a definite number of personnel and a definite expenditure, and if the estimate was not to be exceeded any technical units offered to the United Kingdom would

* Two of these officers had never been formally on the strength of the CASF, but had been attached to CASF units pending qualification.

Page 65

have to come from within these limits. General Anderson considered it practicable to provide units as required without exceeding the estimates, but suggested that Canada should attach certain conditions to any offer, namely:

a. the units shall remain intact as Canadian units.

b. that Canada will assume responsibility for the pay and allowances of the personnel, for the cost of their subsistence, for their initial issue of clothing and for their transportation to the United Kingdom.

c. that the United Kingdom will assume responsibility for equipping the units and for maintenance of their clothing and equipment so long as the units are not under Canadian higher command.

d. that if Canada should at a later stage decide to increase her forces in the field, all or any of the units provided will be made available for return, upon request, to higher Canadian command.

e. should any units be returned to higher Canadian Command as referred to in sub-para. (d) above, Canada will assume the cost of maintenance of equipment from that time and the assumption of the cost of equipment then in use will be subject to mutual arrangements.”

On 29 September a telegram84 was sent to the Dominions Office in London informing the British Government that Canada was willing to send technical units “to a total of from 5000 to 6000 all ranks”, to be selected from a list which was supplied. This included Medical, Signals, Engineers, Army Service Corps and Ordnance units, all drawn from among the ancillary units already mobilizing. The telegram specified the conditions which Anderson had suggested. On 7 October the Dominions Office replied85 expressing thanks and inquiring whether Canada could provide forestry companies and certain special railway troops.

This request raised difficulties, as no such units had been mobilized and there was no provision for them in the financial estimate ($188 million) which was supposedly to carry the Canadian military effort until 1 September 1940.86 On 20 October, the British Government was informed that the Canadian authorities preferred not to undertake to raise forestry or railway troops, pending the outcome of negotiations which were in progress in connection with the proposed British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.87 That scheme was at the moment the centre of the Canadian Government’s interest, and it was clear that it would cost a great deal of money and absorb a high proportion of the national energies.* Five days later the British Government submitted the list of ancillary units which it required, accepting the proposed conditions under which the United Kingdom would be “responsible for issue

* The idea of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was broached in a message from Mr. Chamberlain to Mr. King, called by the former “a special personal appeal”, on 26 September. On the 28th the question was considered at a meeting of the Emergency Council (a sub-committee of Council), with the Chiefs of Staff present. The same day Mr. King cabled to the British Prime Minister, “I can say at once that our Government fully agree that Canadian cooperation in this field would be particularly appropriate and probably the most effective in the military sphere which Canada could furnish. We would therefore be prepared to accept the scheme in principle.”88

Page 66

and maintenance of unit equipment and for maintenance of personal equipment until units are absorbed into Canadian higher formation, when the unit equipment will be taken over by the Canadian Government at agreed valuation”. The British list slightly exceeded the maximum of 6000 troops indicated by the Canadian Government, and in consequence the Canadian authorities suggested some deletions.89

At this point the scheme for sending a Canadian division to the United Kingdom introduced complications. With one division going overseas shortly, and the possibility presenting itself that a second would go in due course and a Canadian Corps be formed, the question arose of revising the list of technical “non-divisional” troops so that these might fit into a Canadian higher formation. Brigadier H. D. G. Crerar, who had now arrived in London to represent National Defence Headquarters, called this point to the attention both of the War Office and of the Department of National Defence. Quite apart from the question of a Canadian Corps, he suggested, it was desirable that the Canadian non-divisional units should form a suitable component of the British Corps to which the Canadian division might be assigned.90

On 6 November the matter was discussed in Ottawa at a meeting in the Minister’s office. General McNaughton represented the desirability of ensuring that his division should be well supported by Canadian ancillary troops and that the Canadian force as a whole should be “a balanced one”. He suggested particularly that it was desirable to provide artillery units.91 As a result of these suggestions, and of further consideration by the Army Council in London “in the light of Brigadier Crerar’s recommendations”, the British list was revised. The new list, as sent to Canada on 18 November, included one regiment of medium artillery and one army field regiment.* In the meantime, there had been further discussions with General McNaughton in Ottawa and the result was ultimate agreement upon a list of ancillary units including one medium regiment and two army field regiments.92

The question of the command and administration of these units had also come under discussion, and the CGS pointed out to General McNaughton that if they were considered as under his command the financial agreement with the United Kingdom might be so interpreted as to require Canada to assume the cost of equipping them – for which funds had not been provided.93 McNaughton replied:94

. . . I must frankly say I do not concur that the units referred to do not come within the inspectional duties which have been assigned to me. The change in composition of the ancillary troops was made at my request so that requirements

* A regiment of field artillery normally under the control of an army headquarters but available for release to a lower formation in accordance with the demands of operations. It was identical in establishment with a normal divisional regiment.

Page 67

for essential arms and services for the 1st Division might be available. The whole purpose of the rearrangement would be defeated if these units were not under the orders of the General Officer Commanding, 1st Canadian Division.

As a result of these discussions, the Canadian Government expressed the hope that the War Office would agree that the Canadian ancillary units would “normally” be employed with the 1st Canadian Division; it added that while employment of these units in the field would be a matter for the headquarters of the corps in which the 1st Canadian Division was serving, it was felt that “channel of authority for training and for administration of personnel including such matters as all questions relating to commissions, promotions, appointments, transfers, exchanges, recalls and demands for officers should pass through

GOC First Canadian Division to Canadian Government”. The same telegram referred to the agreement by which the War Office assumed financial responsibility for equipment, and remarked, “In view of very heavy financial commitments already assumed and now receiving consideration by Canada under air training scheme it remains necessary to reiterate this condition.” It was further suggested that, with Canadian factories tooling up to make the mechanical transport required by the 1st Division, and in the light of the advantages of all Canadian units having vehicles of uniform pattern, it might be desirable for the War Office to order transport for the ancillary troops in Canada.95 On 6 December Canadian Military Headquarters replied, “War Office agree Canadian ancillary units will normally be employed same corps as division and that administrative matters as listed should pass through GOC 1st Canadian Division”.96 This did not, however, imply confirmation of the financial arrangement under the new conditions. CMHQ had suggested to the High Commissioner that it would be appropriate that he take up this policy question with the British authorities, and this was done. A difference of opinion now appeared between the two governments.97 The whole question of the ancillary troops had in fact, now been placed upon a different basis from that originally contemplated. The list of units had been greatly altered as the result of Canadian representations; and whereas the original assumption had been that these units might serve apart from other Canadian troops, a definite link had now been established between them and the 1st Canadian Division. (They sailed from Halifax, it may be noted, only in the Third Flight, which disembarked in Britain on 8–9 February 1940; and they never served in a British corps.) It is not surprising, in these circumstances, that the implementation of the financial arrangement concerning them produced some controversy. Apologizing once more for anticipating later events, we may outline this matter here.

The Canadian authorities, considering the original agreement still operative, took the view that the United Kingdom should pay for unit equipment

Page 68

for these troops until such time as they came under a Canadian Corps organized as such. This was the Canadian interpretation of the phrase “higher Canadian command”, but the War Office argued (as General Anderson had indeed anticipated) that the arrangement by which the administration of these units was confided to General McNaughton had the effect of placing them under such command and so of relieving the United Kingdom of further responsibility for them. There was long and tedious discussion, and the matter was actually not finally adjusted until the summer of 1940, when the Canadian Government agreed to take over full financial responsibility for the Canadian non- divisional troops, effective 1 September of that year and irrespective of the actual date on which a Canadian Corps might be formed.98 The argument had by then used up far more time and paper than the issue was worth. It might have been avoided by pre-war consultation between Canada and the United Kingdom concerning the form of assistance which would be most useful to the latter. The improvisations undertaken to meet the unexpected British request of 6 September 1939 certainly contributed to producing an unnecessary controversy. The affair also reflected the importance attached to financial considerations in the days of what became known as the “phony war” – the period of deceptive calm which followed the rapid German conquest of Poland. Under the conditions created by the desperate strategic crisis which arose in the summer of 1940, such matters were to, appear much less important.

Paying for the Military Effort, 1939

It will be recalled that Parliament during the brief session of September 1939 provided $100 million to cover defence expenditures up to 31 March 1940. Shortly after the session ended, further estimates were completed covering anticipated expenditures for the first year of hostilities, that is, until 1 September 1940. The estimate for this entire year amounted to $314 million for the three armed services, of which $188 million was for the Militia. This was to be provided by the unexpended balance of the defence vote passed in the first session of 1939, plus the war appropriation made in September, plus a further vote to be asked of Parliament at the next session. These arrangements were outlined by the new Minister of Finance (Colonel J. L. Ralston) in a letter written to the Minister of National Defence on 21 September.99 On 20 October the Acting Deputy Ministers of National Defence wrote the Chiefs of Staff indicating an amendment to the policy laid dawn in Ralston’s letter.100 It had now been decided to “set aside a general reserve to provide for unforeseen contingencies”; moreover, the expenses of

Page 69

censorship and internment camps were to be found from the Militia Service allotment.

The amended division of funds was as follows:–

Naval Services $35,888,000
Militia Services, Internment Operations and Censors 168,654,000
Air Services 77,158,000
Departmental Administration 900,000
General Reserve 31,400,000
Total $314,000,000

On 28 October the Chief of the General Staff advised the Deputy Ministers that the Military Members of the Defence Council, having previously estimated the minimum requirements of the Militia Service at $188 million, did not consider themselves able to reduce this sum to $168,654,000. Each item in the list had now been reduced by a percentage to produce the revised figure, but the CGS wrote, “I wish to make it quite clear, however, that we expect that at least the whole of the $188,000,000 will be required to see the Military Service through to 31–8–40, and that therefore the $19,346,000 now being withheld to go into the general reserve of the Department of National Defence will have to be held available for return to the Military Service”.101 In the revised Military Service Vote, reduced as stated, which the Chief of the General Staff now submitted, the largest items were $74,831,000 for Pay and Allowances, $17,466,000 for Clothing and Miscellaneous Stores, and $17,632,000 for Armament Stores.

The influence of financial scruples is written large in the records of this period. In the United Kingdom, “financial limitations” had essentially ceased to affect the defence programme by the time of the outbreak of war;102 but in Canada they were very powerful until Dunkirk. The need for the strictest economy was repeatedly emphasized. On 18. September the Associate Acting Deputy Ministers, K. S. Maclachlan (Naval and Air) and H. DesRosiers (Militia) * sent to the Minister of National Defence a memorandum103 commenting upon the estimates submitted by the service chiefs in the following terms:

The recommendations of the Chiefs of Staffs have been carefully reviewed. The Estimates given in connection with such recommendations have been prepared with all the care possible, taking into consideration the very short time at the disposal of the Staff.

The figures clearly demonstrate the shocking expense entailed in modern warfare, and the close relationship between the combatant and civilian efforts. The Staff personnel of all three services clearly understand the vital importance of using whatever funds are available with the utmost economy and efficiency.

The letter, mentioned above104 which the Minister of Finance wrote to his colleague of National Defence on 21 September, affords further evidence of

* Appointed by PC 2588 of 9 September. General LaFlèche went on sick leave at this time.

Page 70

the power of financial considerations at this moment. After stating the sums which were to be available, Colonel Ralston wrote (the italics have been supplied):

As I say, the above figures are given so that you can proceed rapidly and with assurance from the financial point of view. At the same time, I know it will be kept in mind that, in Canada’s war effort, economic and financial power appears to be regarded, at the moment, by the United Kingdom as even outranking manpower in importance, and you will realize too that, even in this first year, we shall have to call on Canadians for very much more in the way of financial and economic burdens and sacrifice than indicated by the imposing figures given above. Therefore, we ought, I think, to keep in mind that these figures are the limits within which expenditures can be made, and while I am the last to be “cheese paring” in connection with a matter of such vital importance, I am sure that you and your officers will do their utmost to see that, even within these limits, every economy which is possible, consistent with the appropriate celerity and effectiveness, is provided for.

Even more striking is the comment of General Anderson, in a memorandum to the Minister dated 28 November,105 concerning the means adopted for financing Canada’s share of the cost of the ancillary troops for Britain:

You will recall that under instructions of the Committee of the Cabinet, the proposed expenditures for the Military Service to see us through to 1st September, 1940, had to be reduced and that the amount of funds finally authorized was based upon the despatch overseas of one bare division. Later, by postponement of recruiting savings were effected which permitted of the Government offering, within the funds authorized, certain technical units for service in British formations, but under an agreement that Canada would not equip them with unit equipment or maintain their equipment. ...

The war, it is clear, was, at this stage, being fought on a limited budget. The expenditures which the Government had approved were indeed “imposing” by comparison with the pre-war appropriations. They were less imposing by the standards of the existing emergency as seen from the vantage-point of our knowledge of later history. Before September of 1940 arrived, these painful calculations (“the limits within which expenditures can be made”) were to be blown into thin air by tremendous events in Europe.


The Mobile Force planned under Defence Scheme No. 3 consisted of an Army Corps of two divisions with ancillary troops. On 29 August 1939 the Chiefs of Staff referred to this specifically in their memorandum on Canada’s national effort (above, page 46). The Force was duly mobilized, as we have seen, but not as an Army Corps. Although the list of units scheduled for mobilization in General Order 135 included the headquarters of “1st Corps CASF”, no such headquarters was actually organized at this time, and indeed the headquarters even of the 2nd Division was not set up until early in 1940. Presumably as a result of the Government’s decision notified to the Chiefs of Staff on 16 September, the Corps element of the CASF faded away; the force to go overseas immediately was to be only one division plus ancillary troops, and further development was a matter for

Page 71

future decision.* In the event, as we shall see, a Canadian Corps did not come into actual existence until 25 December 1940.

About the time when the final decision was made to send the 1st Division overseas, the Ministry was reorganized. Mr. Ian Mackenzie, who had been Minister of National Defence during the period of preparation and the first days of mobilization, now assumed the portfolio of Pensions and National Health (19 September). On the same date, Mr. Norman McLeod Rogers, formerly Minister of Labour, became Minister of National Defence. He was to preside over the affairs of the Department until his tragic death in an aircraft accident in June 1940. For the moment one minister continued to be responsible for the administration of all three armed services.

* “It has become necessary to abandon all idea, for the time being at least, of forming a Corps Staff’ (CGS to Director of Signals, 10 Oct 39)106 When CASF Routine Order No. 22 was drafted on 19 September 1939, it contained a reference to the training of Corps Headquarters; this had been eliminated from the order by the time it was published on 27 September.107