The Canadian Expeditionary Force was the designation of the field force created by Canada for service overseas in the First World War. The force fielded several combat formations on the Western Front in France and Belgium, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and the Canadian Independent Force, which were independent of the Canadian Corps, also fought on the Western Front. The CEF also had a reserve and training organization in England. The Germans went so far as to call them storm troopers for their combat efficiency. In August 1918, the CEFs Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force travelled to revolution-torn Russia and it reinforced an anti-Bolshevik garrison in Vladivostok during the winter of 1918–19. At this time, another force of Canadian soldiers were placed in Archangel, the Canadian Expeditionary Force was mostly volunteers, as conscription was not enforced until the end of the war when call-ups began in January 1918. Ultimately, only 24,132 conscripts arrived in France before the end of the war, Canada was the senior Dominion in the British Empire and automatically at war with Germany upon the British declaration. According to Canadian historian Dr. Serge Durflinger at the Canadian War Museum, of the first contingent formed at Valcartier, Quebec in 1914, fully two-thirds were men born in the United Kingdom. By the end of the war in 1918, at least fifty per cent of the CEF consisted of British-born men, many British nationals from the United Kingdom or other territories who were resident in Canada also joined the CEF. As several CEF battalions were posted to the Bermuda Garrison before proceeding to France, although the Bermuda Militia Artillery and Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps both sent contingents to the Western Front, the first would not arrive there til June 1915. By then, many Bermudians had already been serving on the Western Front in the CEF for months, Bermudians in the CEF enlisted under the same terms as Canadians, and all male British Nationals resident in Canada became liable for conscription under the Military Service Act,1917. Two tank battalions were raised in 1918 but did not see service, most of the infantry battalions were broken up and used as reinforcements, with a total of fifty being used in the field, including the mounted rifle units, which were re-organized as infantry. The artillery and engineering units underwent significant re-organization as the war progressed, a distinct entity within the Canadian Expeditionary Force was the Canadian Machine Gun Corps. It consisted of several machine gun battalions, the Eatons, Yukon, and Borden Motor Machine Gun Batteries. During the summer of 1918, these units were consolidated into four machine gun battalions, the Canadian Corps with its four infantry divisions comprised the main fighting force of the CEF. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade also served in France, the 1915 Battle of Ypres, the first engagement of Canadian forces in the Great War, changed the Canadian perspective on war. Ypres exposed Canadian soldiers and their commanders to modern war and they had already experienced the effects of shellfire and developed a reputation for aggressive trench raiding despite their lack of formal training and generally inferior equipment. In April 1915, they were introduced to yet another facet of modern war, the Germans employed chlorine gas to create a hole in the French lines adjacent to the Canadian force and poured troops into the gap
Image: Officers and members of the 26th Battalion of the Second Canadian Expeditionary Force
Image: Joseph Pappin Pvt
Enlistment form for a soldier of the 71st Battalion CEF, who saw action at Ypres. This young man would be gassed and lose an eye.