Chapter 23: The Aftermath of the German Surrender
Implementing the Surrender
The days following the cessation of hostilities on the 21st Army Group’s front were not days of rest. The enemy’s surrender immediately imposed a heavy task of administration on the formations of the First Canadian Army.
On the 2nd Canadian Corps front a meeting to implement details of the surrender was held in the burgomaster’s office at Bad Zwischenahn on 5 May. General Erich Straube, who had commanded the hastily improvised Armeeabteilung Straube for only a few days, reported to General Simonds that there were approximately 30,000 German troops in this sector. Headquarters and communications were so disorganized that, although Straube could provide details of defences in the area of Wilhelmshaven, he required time to supply equivalent information for Emden.1 The Germans were treated as “capitulated troops”, without the status of “prisoners of war”.2 Arrangements were made for daily conferences between Straube’s staff and Headquarters 2nd Corps; subordinate German formations received their orders direct from Straube, but attended meetings with appropriate Canadian divisional staffs to coordinate details in their sectors.3
In the 3rd Canadian Division’s sector General Keefler escorted Straube to the conference with Simonds and, by the 6th, German troops in this area were being disarmed by their own authorities.4 In the 4th Canadian Armoured Division sector the arrangements for carrying out the surrender were made by the headquarters of the 4th Armoured Brigade. Here as elsewhere there were initial clashes between Germans and foreign workers (displaced persons); but quick action by our authorities, including, when it was shown necessary, a severe reprimand to the senior German commander by General Vokes, soon disposed of the problem.5 On the 2nd Corps’ eastern flank the impressive Staatsministerium in Oldenburg was the scene of a conference on 7 May between the GOC 2nd Canadian Division and senior German commanders. General Matthews gave instructions for the disarmament of the enemy, including the turning in of all technical stores. The Germans were forbidden to use the Nazi salute. While in this, as in other meetings, their officers exhibited a strictly “correct” attitude, they sometimes gave Canadians the impression of “a board of directors attending at the liquidation of their assets”,6 rather than of the representatives of a defeated army.
Meanwhile, General Crerar had issued a directive to Colonel-General Johannes
Blaskowitz informing him that he was responsible for, and that General Foulkes was authorized to accept, the surrender of all German forces in the area extending from “the Netherlands and that part of Germany lying west of the River Weser, including the Frisian Islands as far east as inclusive Alte Mellum and Wangerooge, and north of the general line Delmenhorst–Cloppenburg–Nordhorn–Lingen”.7 This area included the portion of Germany which Straube surrendered to General Simonds. The directive ended:–
You may accept such orders as are received by you through German channels only from the Headquarters of Field-Marshal Busch, Commander-in-Chief North-West, and copies of such orders received by you will be passed at once to my Headquarters through Headquarters 1 Canadian Corps, until such time as your Headquarters are moved on my orders into North-West Germany, after which, copies of orders received by you from Field-Marshal Busch will be passed to me through Headquarters 2 Canadian Corps.
Before this instruction was issued, Blaskowitz had surrendered to General Foulkes in a battered hotel at Wageningen on the 5th. There was a noticeable difference between the enemy’s attitude at this meeting and in the conferences of the previous week to arrange relief for the Dutch.
The terms of surrender were read over by General Foulkes, and Blaskowitz hardly answered a word. Occasionally he would interpose with a demand for more time to carry out the orders given to him, otherwise nothing was said from the German side. They looked like men in a dream, dazed, stupefied and unable to realize that for them their world was utterly finished.8
Our Intelligence had estimated that there were still about 150,000 German troops in the western Netherlands; the actual strength on 1 May, as supplied by the enemy, was 117,629.9
The sequel to the German surrender was the liberation of the remaining Dutch territory under German control and the movement of the enemy’s troops back to their country. The 1st Corps entered the western Netherlands on 7 May, when the 49th (West Riding) Division took over the 88th German Corps’ area about Utrecht, extending from the Ijsselmeer to the Lek. On the 8th General Foster’s 1st Canadian Division took control of the 30th German Corps’ area in the remaining territory to the west. No man who wore the old red patch on that memorable day is likely to forget the scene. The route led through Amersfoort and Utrecht to Rotterdam.
Every village, street and house was bedecked with red, white and blue Dutch flags and orange streamers which in the brilliant sunlight made a gay scene. The Dutch people had had a rumour of our arrival, and were lining the roads, streets in thousands to give us a tumultuous welcome... When the convoy reached the outskirts of Rotterdam, it lost all semblance of a military convoy. The dense crowds cut it into packets; a vehicle would be unable to move because of civilians surrounding it, climbing on it, throwing flowers-bestowing handshakes, hugs and even kisses. One could not see the vehicle or trailer—for the legs, arms, heads and bodies draped all over it as it made its precarious way through the last few miles of Rotterdam streets. The enthusiasm of the crowds seemed to have infected German soldiers of the Wehrmacht, for in some cases they, going the opposite way in waggons or on foot—waved and grinned.10
The official climax to these celebrations came on 21 May, when the First Canadian Army Victory Parade was held at The Hague. The salute was taken by His Royal
Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, in the presence of General Crerar and his Corps Commanders, as long columns of composite battalions from Canadian and British formations marched past. Sixteen pipe and five brass bands were present, and guns of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division fired a salute. Overhead flew aircraft of No. 84 Group Royal Air Force, which, in the words of General Crerar’s final message to the Air Officer Commanding, had given the Army such “magnificent support” throughout the campaign.11
For the defeated enemy there was a different kind of march. Beginning on 25 May the Germans were moved from the Netherlands to a concentration area in the Wilhelmshaven-Emden peninsula. Blaskowitz was responsible for the details of the operation, but Crerar’s administrative staff “carried out a general supervision, coordination and control of the evacuation, selected the route to be followed, chose sites for the transit camps along the way and provided certain stores”.12 Travelling for the most part on foot, in bodies some 10,000 strong, the Germans tramped homeward at the rate of about 15 miles each day.13 Crossing the causeway at the northern end of the Ijsselmeer, they came under the control of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, which supervised the march as far as the Dutch-German frontier, where Headquarters 2nd Corps assumed responsibility. As this involuntary Drang nach Osten continued, Blaskowitz moved his headquarters to north-west Germany, where Crerar’s orders were transmitted to him through the GOC 2nd Corps. These arrangements prevailed until General Simonds’ headquarters was relieved on 15 June by Headquarters 30th British Corps District. By that time the German evacuation of the Netherlands was “practically complete”.14
Morale and Repatriation
Apart from supervising the surrender of enemy forces, arranging for their return to Germany and organizing the Canadian Army Occupation Force (below, pages 620-21), the Canadian military authorities’ most important problems on the Continent during the period immediately following the end of hostilities were the maintenance of morale and the completion of arrangements for “reallocation” and repatriation.
Shortly after the “cease-fire” on the Canadian front, General Crerar issued farseeing instructions and advice on “man-management”.15 He drew on his experience following the First World War, pointing out, “commanders will need to spend much of their time, from now on, dealing with matters of administration”. The termination of hostilities would inevitably lead to some slackening of discipline and loss of esprit de corps. To check this tendency, “training or recreational activities should be organized, whenever possible, on a sub-unit or unit basis” and “inter-unit, and sub-unit, competitions of all kinds should be strongly encouraged”. The general principle should be to allot compulsory training to the mornings, leaving afternoons free for optional activities such as education and organized sports. Crerar concluded:
This closing chapter in the history of the First Canadian Army in this World War will provide a different test to Commanders and leaders to those met and overcome, in operations, but a very definite test of character will certainly be encountered. It is up to each one of us to surmount it.
Anticipating the need, his headquarters had prepared a special handbook on rehabilitation training and welfare before the campaign ended.16
The challenge was well met. Excellent accommodation for officers and men off duty was secured in many Dutch centres, such as Utrecht, Hilversum, Amersfoort, Apeldoorn and Groningen. In the 1st Corps area the entertainment programme for the middle of May covered a wide range of activities: at Apeldoorn officers could relax at the “Park Plaza Hotel” or the “Country Club”, while warrant officers and sergeants had their “Park Lane Club” and the men enjoyed the facilities of the “Moonlight Gardens”, the “Kit Kat Club” and the “Bluenose Swimming Pool”. In Barneveld there was the “Red Patch Theatre”, and similar establishments functioned at Arnhem and Hilversum. Regular programmes of sports were introduced and there were frequent competitions within and between Canadian formations during the summer.17 When the Canadian Army Occupation Force took over its duties in Germany, the Canadian Auxiliary Services operated numerous clubs, theatres, swimming pools and sports fields at Aurich and Oldenburg; there was also fine sailing on the Zwischenahner Meer.18 Canadian troops were entertained by concert parties, such as “Meet the Navy”, which was presented by the Royal Canadian Navy in collaboration with the British Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). At Amsterdam there was an exhibition of Canadian war artists’ work, much appreciated by civilians and military alike, testifying to the skill of the group of painters who had recorded the Army’s manifold activities.
The soldier was given ample opportunities of improving his education, and adjusting himself to the changed circumstances of peacetime, under the Rehabilitation Training Programme. The principal aims were:19
a. to acquaint every soldier with the changes affecting him, his family, his community and Canada as a whole, which have occurred during his absence on service.
b. to interpret and explain the differences between Canadian ‘ways of life’ and corresponding aspects of civilian life in the countries in which he has served.
c. to raise the level of the occupational skill and/or education of the soldier to enable him to improve his status in civilian life.
d. to explain the provisions for post-discharge training and education and advise regarding them.
e. in general, to prepare the soldier for his return to civilian life.”
Under unit chief instructors training was given in Canadian citizenship as well as in academic, vocational and technical subjects. This wide curriculum “attracted a very high voluntary attendance”.20
The maintenance of morale was closely related to and affected by the official plans for repatriation and reallocation.* These in turn were profoundly influenced by the formation of the Canadian Army Occupation Force and developments in the still-continuing war against Japan. Initially, the conflict on the other side of the globe led to the organization of the Canadian Army Pacific Force, with a
* The overall problem of repatriating the overseas army is discussed in Six Years of War, 431-34.
demand for trained personnel of First Canadian Army. At the same time, the problem of obtaining shipping for repatriation purposes in Europe was greatly complicated by requirements in the Far East.
Within a few days of the “cease-fire” in Europe, Canadian servicemen were acquainted with the official plan for repatriation, reallocation and demobilization. Details of the plan, based, speaking very broadly, on the principle “first in, first out”, were set out in a special pamphlet, After Victory in Europe, which was reprinted in The Maple Leaf.21 Priorities for release depended on a carefully calculated point-score system. A questionnaire was distributed to ascertain each soldier’s preference—that is, for service with either the Occupation Force or the Pacific Force, or discharge. Arrangements were then made to post personnel as far as possible in accordance with their wishes—subject to the inevitable requirements of the service. Approximately 10,000 soldiers volunteered for the Occupation Force (below, page 621); and by 21 July nearly 25,000 men in the theatre had volunteered for the Pacific Force. “Of these, about 18,500 were of the most suitable age, category and marital status.”22
The process of repatriation and reallocation continued throughout the summer. Early in July the Army Commander became convinced that the principle of “first in, first out” had been carried “to the practicable limit” in First Canadian Army. Faced with shortages of qualified officers and essential tradesmen, Crerar observed, “should the present period of ‘repatriation by disintegration’ further continue, it will not be possible adequately to maintain and administer the troops yet remaining in this country”. He also pointed to another difficulty:
The greatest number of ‘Low Point’ soldiers are in the ranks of the Infantry—for the very good reason that the Infantry arm has suffered by far the heaviest casualties in operations. Yet, from the point of view of orderly repatriation and demobilization, it is the ‘combatant arm’ rather than the ‘administrative service’ which should be the first to be released!
It was, therefore, apparent that the remainder of the Army on the Continent could only be repatriated “in a selected sequence of Divisional Groups, units and sub-units”, instead of the drafts of long-service men so far the rule. This change at some stage had been contemplated in the original plan.23
The sudden ending of the Pacific war in August eased these problems in two ways. Not only did the allocation of key personnel to the Pacific Force cease to be a difficulty, but more shipping became available to transport the troops to Canada. These developments greatly assisted the army administrative staffs in the final stages of dealing with the pressing problems of this period. The efficiency of these staffs deserves recognition.
The disbandment of First Canadian Army was complicated by four basic factors: the dispatch of volunteers to the Pacific Force, the repatriation of long-service personnel, the reallocation of men and equipment for the Occupation Force and the necessity of releasing British and other Allied units from command. We have already seen, in outline, how some of these problems were tackled. During the first phase of the disbandment all British operational troops passed from General
Crerar’s command and all Canadian troops, other than the 3rd Division, Canadian Army Occupation Force, were withdrawn from Germany and concentrated in the Netherlands. In succeeding stages certain units with territorial affiliations were dispatched to Canada as units, together with drafts of long-service personnel, and all units not forming part of divisional establishments were “phased out” in five divisional groups.24
During the early part of June 1945 preparations were made for the 1st Infantry Division to concentrate in the area about Utrecht and Hilversum, while the 3rd Infantry Division was regrouping in the vicinity of Amersfoort and Apeldoorn with the 3rd Division, CAOF By the middle of the month General Simonds’ headquarters and the 2nd Corps Troops had moved to Enschede, in the eastern Netherlands, and on the 25th this headquarters was disbanded. Simultaneously, units were turning in guns, tanks and other vehicles. At the end of the month the 4th Armoured Division was completely “detanked”; and the headquarters of both the 1st and 2nd Armoured Brigades were disbanded by the beginning of July. The disposal of surplus stores and vehicles was a very large administrative task. Great quantities were handed over to liberated countries to assist in the work of rehabilitation.25
Meanwhile a continuous stream of personnel left First Canadian Army for the Pacific Force. By the end of June 807 officers and 15,170 other ranks had been dispatched; the final figures, a month later, were 1064 and 20,829. During the same period the Canadian Army Occupation Force was being built up towards its authorized strength of 25,000 men. Repatriation proceeded concurrently; by the middle of July the Army had sent off nearly 16,000 officers and men on the journey home.26
While this reallocation of personnel was in progress there was a further regrouping of formations and withdrawal of units from Germany. The 4th Armoured Division had concentrated near Almelo late in May. The 1st Polish Armoured Division left General Crerar’s command in mid-June. Following its relief by the 3rd Division, CAOF, the 2nd Infantry Division moved in July into a triangle formed by Amersfoort, Deventer and Zwolle. The 5th Armoured Division remained in the north-eastern Netherlands, with its headquarters at Groningen. The concentration in the Netherlands permitted a further reduction of staffs and on 17 July Headquarters 1st Corps was disbanded. At the end of the month Headquarters First Canadian Army ceased operations (although it was not officially disbanded until 15 February 1946). On 30 July General Crerar laid down the command which he had exercised with so much distinction. The following day General Simonds assumed command of “Canadian Forces in the Netherlands”.27
Before leaving the Continent, General Crerar was invested by Prince Bernhard, on behalf of Queen Wilhelmina, with the Grand Cross of the Order of Orange Nassau with Swords. In his last message to the troops he had commanded, Crerar wrote:
... I felt the need to tell you that I have been deeply conscious of the loyalty and support which all of you have always given to me. You have never failed to fulfil your dangerous and difficult share of the operational tasks which, as Army Commander, I have been
charged to carry out. As the result, the record of the First Canadian Army, in its many battles from Normandy to North-West Germany, has been one of unbroken military success.28
On 30 July he sailed from the United Kingdom for Canada in the Ile de France, together with 7289 other happy Canadians.29
After Army Headquarters ceased to function there were two distinct Canadian military formations on the Continent, since the Canadian Forces in the Netherlands did not include the CAOF The “normal command channel” for Simonds’ new headquarters was through Headquarters 21st Army Group (later the British Army of the Rhine) and the War Office to Canadian Military Headquarters, London; for the CAOF it was through Headquarters 30th Corps District, Headquarters 21st Army Group, as above, and the War Office to CMHQ But in “all matters of Canadian policy and administration” both Canadian formations were under the command of CMHQ and dealt with it direct.30
The repatriation of the Canadian Forces in the Netherlands continued throughout the autumn of 1945. By the end of August 58,750 officers and men (including those intended for the Pacific Force) had been dispatched to Canada; three months later the total had risen to 101,575. This led in turn to the successive disbandments of the headquarters of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Infantry Divisions on 15 September, 13 October and 23 November respectively; the headquarters of the 5th and 4th Armoured Divisions were disbanded on 12 and 27 December respectively.31
Repatriation continued until the latter part of 1946. The command and administrative sections of Headquarters Canadian Forces in the Netherlands were disbanded on 31 May. On the following day the Canadian Section, Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine (North West Europe) assumed command of the remaining elements on the Continent.32 These were mainly concerned with movement control, transit camps, discipline, graves registration and construction, legal matters and the Canadian Wives Bureau (North West Europe).33 Finally, all remaining Canadian headquarters, units and increments, with establishments totalling 55 officers and 436 other ranks, were disbanded on 30 November 1946. A rear party, consisting of one officer and three other ranks, still remained on the Continent to complete the last details of closing out accounts and handing over accommodation; but it was carried on the strength of CMHQ The Imperial War Graves Commission took over Canadian cemeteries, and Canadian embassies assumed responsibility for moving the remaining dependents of Canadian servicemen on the Continent.34
The Canadian Army Occupation Force
Long before the war ended the Canadian authorities had considered the many problems attending participation in the Allied occupation of Germany. (Extensive preparations for the latter had been made under the appropriate code name “Eclipse”.) From the Canadian point of view issues of considerable complexity were involved, including, on the military side, possible repercussions on the repatriation of overseas troops and the organization of the Canadian Army Pacific
Force.* Here we can do no more than outline the main developments leading to the organization of the Canadian Army Occupation Force in the summer of 1945.
In December 1944 the Canadian Government approved the broad policy for the Army’s participation in occupational duties during the transition period between the cessation of hostilities and the beginning of the occupation proper. The Canadian force was to be “one occupational group organized as an infantry formation of approximately 25,000 men “,35 closely resembling a self-administering infantry division. Personnel of the force would be found from volunteers in the overseas army who were willing to forgo their priority of demobilization; any deficiency in strength would be made up by detailing soldiers with low priority. The Canadian Government was, however, unwilling to accept a long-range commitment. Official policy favoured the rapid repatriation of Canadian troops in the European theatre, particularly in view of the fact that Canada would have no voice in the Allied control of Germany.36
General Crerar and Lieut.-General P. J. Montague (Chief of Staff, Canadian Military Headquarters) agreed that the crucial point in implementing this policy was the length of the time for which the occupation force was to be made available. The Army Commander observed that “a delay of even a year in return to Canada and civil opportunities” could be “a very serious handicap” for the average soldier; on the other hand, prospects of a career, with long-term service in the post-war Active Army, might attract many men to the occupation force. He considered that Headquarters First Canadian Army should continue to function until satisfactory arrangements for Canadian participation were complete, pointing out that these were “national problems and not matters which should be decided and arranged by British higher command or SHAEF”.37 The issue was complicated by the need for reconciling the requirements of the Canadian Army Pacific Force with those of the occupation force. “Inevitably these two matters are closely connected”, Crerar wrote in March 1945, “as in order expeditiously to regroup units and reallocate personnel a considerable amount of preliminary work is required.”38
Simultaneously another aspect of the problem came into view. During March Field-Marshal Montgomery’s headquarters inquired whether the Canadians wished to be represented in the British portion of a proposed Allied garrison in Berlin. Again Crerar emphasized that this matter was “of political rather than of military significance”. Lieut.General J. C. Murchie, Chief of the General Staff in Ottawa, replied at once that the Army should participate in the occupation of Berlin, “both on national grounds and to give Canadian troops satisfaction of having token detachment present at entry of enemy capital.” By the end of the campaign, Headquarters First Canadian Army had prepared a detailed order of battle for an infantry brigade group to represent Canada in the garrison.39 This group, however, never reached Berlin. Protracted negotiations among the Allies, and the condition of the city, postponed the movement, and in mid-June the Canadian force was released from its assignment. A composite battalion was then formed from companies of representative units of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Canadian Divisions (The Loyal Edmonton Regiment, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal and The Argyll and
* See Six Years of War, 512-19.
Sutherland Highlanders of Canada). This unit, commanded by Lt: Col. A. F. Coffin of the Argylls, finally entered Berlin on 4 July. Under the command of Headquarters British Troops Berlin, it remained there until 27 July.40
Meanwhile, during May, General Crerar’s headquarters organized the Canadian Army Occupation Force, consisting of a reconstituted “3rd Canadian Infantry Division, CAOF” with incremental units at General Headquarters and in the Lines of Communication.41 Nine “garrison battalions” and three “garrison brigade headquarters” were drawn in the first instance from reinforcement units in England to form the nucleus of the Force. They were concentrated near Amersfoort, in the vicinity of General Keefler’s division,*42 all levels of command being closely affiliated with the counterpart in the veteran formation. The garrison brigades and battalions were reorganized into formations and units paralleling those of the wartime division: thus the “2nd/7th Canadian Infantry Brigade” was composed at first of units designated as battalions of The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, The Regina Rifle Regiment and The Canadian Scottish Regiment (later the Queen’s Own Rifles from the 2nd/8th Brigade exchanged with the Scottish). Although authorized from 1 June, Headquarters 3rd Division, CAOF did not take over control of its units until the 15th, when General Vokes assumed command.43 At the end of June the division’s total strength was 568 officers and 15,477 other ranks; a month later these figures had risen to 853 and 16,983.44
General Vokes reminded his troops that they were “ambassadors of Canada”, adding: “As we appear, and as we conduct ourselves so will Canada be judged both in Germany or in any other country in Europe in which we may find ourselves whether on duty or on leave.”45 On 5 July the first units of the Force left the Netherlands for north-west Germany where, under Headquarters 30th Corps District, they commenced taking over the 2nd Infantry Division’s sector. Six days later the relief was complete, with Vokes’ headquarters established in Bad Zwischenahn. (As the 2nd Canadian Division had assumed responsibility for the 3rd’s area when the latter moved to the western Netherlands, the 3rd Division, CAOF succeeded to a command comprising the Aurich district and most of the Land Oldenburg.) In its new location the divisional staff inaugurated a programme “to turn out, firstly well trained and disciplined soldiers; and secondly good citizens of Canada better equipped to earn a living when they leave the army than when they entered it”.46
The 3rd Division, CAOF rapidly settled down to its new and varied responsibilities. These included looking after large numbers of displaced persons, regulating relations with and between Germans and, due to the shortage of coal, cutting wood for winter fuel. As time passed it became possible to relax certain restrictions on civilian activities in conformity with Montgomery’s policy of giving the Germans greater freedom, “subject only to the provisions of military security and necessity”.47 Anyone who had assumed that the Force would be fully occupied in keeping the Germans in subjection was soon undeceived. In the early months the presence of the non-German displaced persons caused some trouble; but at no
* The 3rd Division had been moved from the Aurich area to Utrecht, passing from the command of the 2nd to the 1st Corps on 16 May.
time was there any serious difficulty with the German population, who indeed seemed glad of the support for law and order provided by the occupying troops.48
Meanwhile, continuing uncertainty regarding the terms of service in the Occupation Force caused some disquietude to personnel compulsorily posted to the CAOF On 10 August the Department of National Defence announced:
Canadian Occupation Forces [including a component of the Royal Canadian Air Force] will serve for a limited period only and individual members of these Forces will not in any event be required to serve on such duty for longer than two years.
This statement, as General Vokes was quick to point out, immediately raised further questions in connection with the status of soldiers interested in the army as a career. The problem was complicated by the fact that only about 10,000 men had volunteered for service in the Canadian Army Occupation Force, the balance being found from personnel with low priority for repatriation. The sudden collapse of Japan, with the consequent disbandment of the Canadian Army Pacific Force, eased the situation to some extent. In September the Adjutant General (Major-General A. E. Walford) stated that a secondary purpose of the “Interim Force”, then being organized to bridge the gap between the cessation of all hostilities and the authorization of the post-war Regular Army, would be to provide replacements for the Occupation Force.49
A final decision on the future of the Occupation Force was not, however, taken until December 1945. The Canadian Government then advised the British authorities that “the serious administrative problems that are involved in maintaining comparatively small forces at so great a distance from Canada” necessitated an early termination of the commitment. Pending repatriation of the remainder of the Canadian Army Overseas, the Force would be retained at full strength; but, beginning in April 1946, it would be withdrawn “by stages with the object of completing movements from the Continent before the end of the next summer and repatriating all Canadian Army personnel now overseas by the autumn of 1946”.50 Although the British Government pressed strongly for retention of the Canadian troops on the Continent until the spring of 1947, the decision was maintained.51
Arrangements for the withdrawal were completed during the winter months. Delay in announcing the official policy on repatriation caused some unrest in the 3rd Division, CAOF in February 1946. On the 15th of the month the Prime Minister of Canada announced that the Canadian troops would be withdrawn from Germany beginning in April. It was expected that the entire Force would be back in Canada by September or October.52 The first troops actually sailed from Cuxhaven to Tilbury at the end of March, and the bulk of the Force withdrew to England during the next three months for return to Canada. General Vokes’ headquarters turned over its responsibilities to the British 52nd (Lowland) Division on 15 May and was officially disbanded on 20 June.53