Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War

Volume I: Six Years of War – The Army in Canada, Britain and the Pacific

By Colonel C. P. Stacey, OBE, CD, AM, PhD, FRSC

Director, Historical Section, General Staff

Maps drawn by Captain C. C. J. Bond

Published by Authority of the Minister of National Defence

In the writing of this volume the author has been given full access to relevant official documents in possession of the Department of National Defence; but the inferences drawn and the opinions expressed are those of the author himself, and the Department is in no way responsible for his reading or presentation of the facts as stated.

Table of Contents


Part One: Organization, Training and Home Defence in Canada

Chapter 1: The Canadian Militia on the Eve of War

The Canadian Tradition – The Approach of the Crisis – The New Defence Programme and its Problems – The New Programme Develops, 1937–1939 – The Reorganization of the Militia – The Problem of Supply – The Coast Defence Programme – Defence Schemes and Mobilization Planning – The Last Days of Peace – The General State of Preparation, 1939

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

The Approach of War – “Adopt Precautionary Stage Against Germany” – War in Europe: The Mobile Force is Mobilized – Canada Goes to War – Mobilizing the Units of the Active Service Force – The Response of the Country – The Decision to Send Troops Overseas – The Technical Troops for Britain – Paying for the Military Effort, 1939

Chapter 3: The Expansion of the Army, 1939–1943

The Completion of the 2nd Division – The Summer Crisis of 1940: Formation of the 3rd and 4th Divisions – Canadian Troops for Iceland – The Formation of the Canadian Corps – The Army Programme for 1941 – The Modification and Approval of the 1941 Programme – The Development of the Army Programme for 1942 – First Canadian Army Comes into Existence – The Final Composition of the Field Force – The First Special Service Force – Organization of the Canadian Army Overseas at its Peak

Chapter 4: Recruiting and Training in Canada

Making an Army in an Unmilitary Society – Reliance Upon Voluntary Service – Recruiting in the Early Days, 1939–1941 – The Beginnings of Manpower Scarcity, 1941–1942 – The National Resources Mobilization Act: Compulsory Service for Home Defence – The Extension of Compulsory Service – Changes in the MRMA and its Administration, 1942–1943 – The Canadian Women’s Army Corps – The Selection of Officers for the Army – The Training Process in Canada – The Training of Mobilized Units – The Organization of Training Centres – Training Developments in 1942–1944 – Special Training Establishments and Trades Training – Training the CWAC – The Training of Officers – The Royal Canadian Army Cadets – The History of Private Jones

Chapter 5: Defending the Soil of Canada, 1939–1945

The Nature of the Problem – Early Measures for the Defence of Canada – The Guarding of “Vulnerable Points” – The Development of Fixed Defences, 1939–1944 – The Development of Anti-Aircraft Defences – The Security of the Atlantic Coast After Dunkirk – The Security of the Pacific Coast After Pearl Harbor – Home Defence at its Peak – Security Measures Against the Submarine Menace in the Lower St. Lawrence – The Japanese Balloon Enterprise – The Canadian Army in Newfoundland – Canadian Troops in the West Indies and the Caribbean – The Role of the Reserve Army – Disbandment of the Home Defence Divisions, 1943–1944

Part Two: The Army in Britain, 1939–1945

Chapter 6: The Growth of the Army Overseas and Organization in Britain

Moving the Troops to Britain – Canadian Military Headquarters – Organization of CMHQ, 1945 – Canadian Reinforcement Units and other Units under CMHQ Command – The Canadian Forestry Corps – The Canadian Women’s Army Corps Overseas

Chapter 7: Command and Control of Canadian Forces in the United Kingdom

Problems of Control – Relationship Between CMHQ and Field Headquarters – Relationship Between NDHQ and the Army Overseas – Changes and Reorganization, 1943–1944

Chapter 8: Training the Army Overseas

The Beginning of Overseas Training – Training to Defeat Invasion, 1940–1941 – Manoeuvers on the Grand Scale, 1941 – Improvements in Organization and Methods – Offensive Training, 1942–1943 – Battle Experience in North Africa – Exercise SPARTAN, March 1943 – The Final Stages, 1943–1944

Chapter 9: Alarums and Excursions, 1940

The Role and Problems of the Canadian Army Overseas – Authority to Commit Canadian Forces to Operations – The Proposal to Send Canadian Troops to Norway – ANGEL MOVE: The 1st Division and the Crisis in the Low Countries, May 1940 – The Dunkirk Evacuation – First Measures Against the Invasion Menace – Forlorn Hope: The Second BEF, June 1940 – The Role of the Second BEF – The 1st Brigade in France – A Reckoning of Disappointment – The Invasion Summer – The Storm that Did Not Burst – The Canadian Corps

Chapter 10: Tasks and Operations, 1941–1942

The Situation at the Beginning of 1941 – The Corps Moves Into Sussex – Sappers at Gibraltar – The Expedition to Spitsbergen – General McNaughton’s Authority is Widened – Raiding Projects and the Raid on Hardelot – Allied Grand Strategy in 1942 – Decision in July – Major Raiding Projects, 1942 – The Origins of the Raid on Dieppe – Planning and Training for the Raid – Changes in the Plan – The Cancellation of Operation RUTTER – The Revival of the Operation – The Plan of Operation JUBILEE

Chapter 11: The Raid on Dieppe, 19 August 1942

German Defences in the West in 1942 – The Enemy in the Dieppe Area – Our Information About the Enemy – The Collision with the German Convoys – The Attack on the Berneval Battery – The Attack on the Varengeville Battery – Disaster at Puys – The Fighting in the Pourville Area – The Frontal Attack on Dieppe – The Fortunes of the Tanks – The Landing of the Reserves – Withdrawal from the Main Beaches

Chapter 12: Dieppe: Losses, Comments and Aftermath

Allied Losses at Dieppe – German Losses and German Critiques – How the Public was Told – The Shackling of Prisoners – Some Comments on the Operation – The Influence of Dieppe on German Thinking – Problems of Strategic Employment, 1942–1943

Chapter 13: Some Special Problems of the Canadian Army Overseas

A Unique Experience – The Problem of Finding Commanders and Staff Officers – The Problem of Morale – Discipline and Deportment – Leave to Canada – Repatriating the Overseas Army

Part Three: The War Against Japan, 1941–1945

Chapter 14: The Defence of Hong Kong, December 1941

The Army in the Pacific War, 1941–1945 – The Situation in the Far East, 1939–1941 – The Request for Canadian Help at Hong Kong – The Training and Equipment of the Expeditionary Force – The Development of the Japanese War Plans – The Defences of Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Defence Plan – The Japanese Attack Begins – The Loss of the Gin Drinkers Line and the Withdrawal to the Island – The Attack on Hong Kong Island – Operations in the Eastern Sector – The End on Stanley Peninsula – The Fight for the Western Sector – The Fall of Hong Kong – The Cost of the Defence – Some Comments on the Hong Kong Campaign

Chapter 15: The Campaign in the Aleutians

The War in the Pacific, January–June 1942 – The Japanese Invade the Aleutians – The Counter-Offensive Against the Islands – Fiasco at Kiska

Chapter 16: Pacific Plans and Enterprises, 1943–1945

Eyes on the Kuriles – Observers in the Pacific – Canadians in Australia – Policy on Participation in the Pacific – The Canadian Army Pacific Force – Recruiting and Training the CAPF – The End in the Pacific


Appendix A: Strength and Casualties, Canadian Army

Appendix B: General Service Enlistments, 1 September 1939–31 August 1945

Appendix C: Canadian Army Appropriations and Expenditures, 1939–1946

Appendix D: Canadian Army (Active) Training Centres and Schools in Canada, 1 July 1943

Appendix E: Operational Units of the Active Army in the North American Zone, 24 April 1943

Appendix F: Persons Holding Principal Appointments, Canadian Army, 1939–1945

Appendix G: Note on the Equipment of the Canadian Army Overseas, 1939–1945

Appendix H: The Number of Men Evacuated from the Dieppe Beaches

Appendix I: Newfoundland Army Units Overseas

Appendix J: Organization Chart, National Defence Headquarters (Army), April 1945


Index Part I: General

Index Part II: Formations, Units and Corps

A. Canadian Forces

B. British and Allied Forces

C. Enemy Forces


Canadian Tanks in Sussex, by Major W. A. Ogilvie – Coast Defence in Canada – British Columbia – Vimy Barracks, Barriefield, Ontario – The 1st Division Goes Overseas – The Minister of National Defence in London, April 1940 – Canadians at the Palace – Basic Training in Canada – Renault Tanks Arriving from the United States, October 1940 – Combined Operations Training in Canada – Flame-Throwing Demonstration, Valcartier – Coast Defence in Canada – Nova Scotia – A Gun Operations Room, Saint John Defences, New Brunswick – The Canadian Forestry Corps in Britain – The Canadian Women’s Army Corps Overseas – Training for the Dieppe Raid – Training in Assault Landings – Battle School in England – Training before D Day – The King with Canadian Troops, July 1941 – Canadians Preparing to Leave for Norway, April 1940 – Canadian Engineers at Gibraltar – Engineers at Spitsbergen – The Queen Inspects a Guard of Honour – A Very Near Miss at CMHQ, London – Cabinet Ministers at Army Headquarters – Homeward Bound After Six Years – The Sea-Wall at Puys – Pourville from the East – The Main Beaches at Dieppe – Dieppe from the Western Headland – Part of the Floating Reserve at Dieppe – Evidence of the Fierceness of German Fire at Dieppe – A Disabled Tank on the Dieppe Promenade – Canadian Troops Arriving at Hong Kong – A Former Japanese Commander Surveys the Hong Kong Battlefield – Wong Nei Chong Gap, Hong Kong Island – Landing at Kiska, August 1943 – The End of the War – The “Maple Leaf” Reports the End

Charts and Tables in Text

Pre-War Appropriations for the Department of National Defence

Peace Establishment, Canadian Active Militia, by Arm of Service, 1938

Strength of the Canadian Active Service Force, 30 September 1939

Growth of the Canadian Army Overseas, 1939–1945: Arrivals in the United Kingdom from Canada and Strength in European Zone

Canadian Military Headquarters, London, February 1945: Organization Chart

Channels of Communication, Canadian Army Overseas, 1942

Dieppe Raid: Embarkation Strength, Casualties and Disembarkation Strength, Canadian Units


1. Atlantic Coast Defences

2. Pacific Coast Defences

3. Canada, Showing Commands, Military Districts, etc.

4. France and Southern England, 14 June 1940

5. The Dieppe Operation, 19 August 1942

6. Mainland Positions, Hong Kong

7. Hong Kong, 18–25 December 1941


1. The British Isles

2. Spitsbergen, 1941

3. German Dispositions, North Central France, at time of Dieppe Raid

4. Hong Kong and New Territories

5. Hong Kong Island: Garrison’s Dispositions

6. North Pacific Ocean

7. Pacific Ocean, 1941–1945