Battle of the Ancre
The Battle of the Ancre, was fought by the Fifth Army, against the German 1st Army. The battle was the final large British attack of the Battle of the Somme. After the Battle of Flers–Courcelette on 22 September, the Anglo-French armies tried to press their advantage with several smaller attacks in quick succession, rather than pause to regroup and give the Germans time to recover. Subsequent writers gave discrete dates for the Anglo-French battles but there were considerable overlaps and continuities of operations, until the weather and supply difficulties in mid-November ended the battle until the new-year; the British attack was to fulfil complementary objectives. Political discontent in London would be muted by a big victory, as would doubts of British commitment by its allies and British loyalty to the Chantilly strategy of 1915 would be upheld; the capture of Beaumont Hamel and Serre would go some way to redeem the failure of 1 July and obtain ground on which the British would have a tactical advantage.
The attack was the largest in the British sector since September and had a seven-day preliminary bombardment, twice as heavy as that of 1 July. Beaumont Hamel, St Pierre Divion and Beaucourt were captured, which threatened the German hold on Serre further north. Edmund Blunden called the battle "a feat of arms vieing with any recorded; the enemy was surprised and beaten". Four German divisions had to be relieved due to the number of casualties they suffered and over 7,000 German troops were taken prisoner. After meeting on 17 October, with Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson the Fourth Army commander and Gough, General Sir Douglas Haig, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force cancelled the Third Army operation planned in September and on 23 October, the Reserve Army attack was reduced from a converging attack towards the Ancre river, to an attack up the valley; the failure of the Fourth Army attack of 18 October, caused another revision of the plan. The Reserve Army was to capture the rest of Thiepval Ridge with II Corps on 21 October, the Fourth and French Sixth armies were to attack on 23 October and the reduced Reserve Army attack on both sides of the Ancre was to begin on 25 October.
Gough issued a new operation order on 15 October and began another reorganisation on the north side of the Ancre. The II Corps operation on 21 October succeeded; the main attack was postponed until 25 October and cancelled. On 27 October, Gough set 1 November as the provisional date, postponed it again on 29 October to 5 November and on 3 November, Haig gave Gough the choice of cancelling the attack and resuming operations when the weather improved. On 5 November, Haig suggested a subsidiary attack. Gough preferred to delay the main effort. Haig agreed that there should be no attack until the ground was dry enough for infantry to move and there was a forecast of two days of fair weather. On 3 November, Major-General Rudolph Cavan the XIV Corps commander, wrote to Rawlinson, objecting to the renewal of attacks on Le Transloy, having lost 5,320 casualties. Rawlinson informed Haig that he was going to limit the next attack, which led to a conference at Fourth Army headquarters on 4 November, attended by Haig and General Ferdinand Foch.
Haig explained that the Fourth Army would be attacking at other points on 5 November and Cavan agreed to make certain that the French left flank was protected. On 6 November, Rawlinson announced that the Fifth Army operation due in the Ancre valley had been reduced and that the Fourth Army would conduct "modified operations", intended to stop the Germans moving troops from France. Apart from attacks near Saillisel, the French Sixth Army began to consolidate for the winter. After another discussion on 8 November, at the Fifth Army headquarters by Lieutenant-General Launcelot Kiggell, Haig's Chief of the General Staff and Gough, a meeting between Gough and the corps commanders, decided that the attack should begin on 13 November, if the weather stayed dry. Opinion among divisional and brigade commanders varied on the possibility of an attack and that it should go ahead or be cancelled rather than be postponed again. On 10 November, Gough set the attack for 5:45 a.m. on 13 November. After studying the Fifth Army plans, Haig allowed the attack to go ahead and Gough arranged with the corps commanders, that operations towards Pys and Irles would begin if the attack on 13 November went well but avoided detail, due to the uncertain weather.
To be ready for the big attack intended for 12 October, Gough began to concentrate more troops in the area north of the Ancre. In early October the north bank was held by the 39th Division of V Corps up to the boundary with the Third Army at Hébuterne. On 1 October, the 2nd Division was moved in on the left of the 39th Division to hold the ground from Redan Ridge to the army boundary. On 4 October the XIII Corps headquarters was brought out of reserve, to control 1,500 yd of the front line up to the junction with the Third Army and the 2nd Division was relieved on the left by the 51st Division; the 39th Division was transferred to the command of II Corps on 2 October and took over the area south of the Ancre on 5 October, by extending its right boundary to relieve the 18th Division at Thiepval. By 7 October XIII Corps had the 51st and 19th Divisions in line and on 8 October, V Corps relieved the 2nd Division with the 3rd and 63rd divisions. Gough issued i
Battle of Flers–Courcelette
The Battle of Flers–Courcelette was fought during the Battle of the Somme in France, by the French Sixth Army and the British Fourth Army and Reserve Army, against the German 1st Army, during the First World War. The Anglo-French attack of 15 September began the third period of the Battle of the Somme but by its conclusion on 22 September, the strategic objective of a decisive victory had not been achieved; the infliction of many casualties on the German front divisions and the capture of the villages of Courcelette and Flers had been a considerable tactical victory but the German defensive success on the British right flank, made exploitation and the use of cavalry impossible. Tanks were used in battle for the first time in history and the Canadian Corps and the New Zealand Division fought for the first time on the Somme. On 16 September, Jagdstaffel 2, a specialist fighter squadron, began operations with five new Albatros D. I fighters, which were capable of challenging British air supremacy for the first time since the beginning of the battle.
The attempt to advance on the right and pivot on the left failed but the British gained about 2,500 yd in general and captured High Wood, moving forward about 3,500 yd in the centre, beyond Flers and Courcelette. The Fourth Army crossed Bazentin Ridge, which exposed the German rear-slope defences beyond to ground observation and on 18 September, the Quadrilateral, where the British advance had been frustrated on the right flank, was captured. Arrangements were begun to follow up the tactical success which, after supply and weather delays, began on 25 September at the Battle of Morval. In September, the German armies on the Somme lost about 130,000 casualties, the most costly month of the battle. Combined with the losses at Verdun and on the Eastern Front, the German Empire was brought closer to military collapse than at any time before the autumn of 1918. At the beginning of August, optimistic that the Brusilov Offensive on the Eastern Front in Russia, would continue to absorb German and Austro-Hungarian reserves and that the Germans had abandoned the Battle of Verdun, General Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France, advocated to the War Committee in London, that relentless pressure be kept on the German armies in France for as long as possible.
Haig had hoped that the delay in producing tanks had been overcome and that enough would be ready in September. Despite the small numbers of tanks available and the limited time for the training of crews, Haig planned to use them in the mid-September battle being planned with the French, in view of the importance of the general Allied offensive being conducted on the Western Front in France, on the Italian front by Italy against the Austro-Hungarians and by General Aleksei Brusilov in Russia, which could not continue indefinitely. Haig believed that the German defence of the Somme front was weakening and that by mid-September might collapse altogether. By September, Ferdinand Foch the commander of Groupe d'armées du Nord and co-ordinator of the Somme offensive, had stopped trying to get the armies on the Somme to attack which had proved impossible and instead make separate sequenced attacks, successively to envelop the German fortifications. Foch wanted to increase the size and tempo of attacks, to weaken the German defence and achieve rupture, a general German collapse.
Haig had been reluctant to participate in August, when the Fourth Army was not close enough to the German third position to make a general attack practicable. The main effort was being made north of the Somme by the British and Foch had to acquiesce, while the Fourth Army closed up to the third position. To help the Fourth Army, the Reserve Army was to resume attacks against Thiepval and for the first time attack into the Ancre river valley, the Fourth Army was to capture the German intermediate and second positions from Guillemont to Martinpuich and the third position from Morval to le Sars, as the Sixth Army attacked the intermediate line from Le Fôret to Cléry the third position from the Somme to Rancourt. On the south side of the river, the Tenth Army would commence its postponed attack from Barleux to Chilly. On 28 August, General Erich von Falkenhayn, the Chief of the General Staff of Oberste Heeresleitung, simplified the German command structure on the Western Front by establishing two army groups.
Heeresgruppe Kronprinz Rupprecht controlled the 6th Army, 1st Army, 2nd Army and 7th Army, from Lille to the boundary of Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz, from south of the Somme battlefield to beyond Verdun. Armeegruppe Gallwitz-Somme was dissolved and General Max von Gallwitz reverted to the command of the 2nd Army; the emergency in Russia caused by the Brusilov Offensive, the entry of Rumania into the war and French counter-attacks at the Verdun, put further strain on the German army. Falkenhayn was replaced by Hindenburg and Ludendorff; this Third OHL ordered an end to attacks at Verdun and the despatch of troops to Rumania and the Somme front. Flers is a village 9 mi north-east of Albert, 4 mi south of Bapaume, to the east of Martinpuich, west of Lesbœufs and to the north-east of Delville Wood; the village is on the D 197 from Longueval to Ligny Thilloy. In 1916, the village was defended by the Switch Line, Flers Trench on the western outskirts, Flea Trench and Box and Cox were behind the village in front of Gird Trench and Gueudecourt.
Courcelette is near the D 929 Albert–Bapaume road, 7 mi north-east of Albert, to the north-east of Pozières and south-west of Le Sars. Sinc
World War I
World War I known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, it is one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; when Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th. German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks shift forces to the East before Russia could mobilise. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France; when this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day. On 12 August and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each power's colonial empire as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe; the Entente and its allies would become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and their allies would become known as the Central Powers. The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. In 1915, Italy opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans; the United States remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade prevented the Germans from doing the same the U. S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies.
After the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops. Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918; the 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive.
This offensive was successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti after being decisively defeated by Italy in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918. World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural and social climate of the world; the war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, the United States, It
Monchy-le-Preux (Newfoundland) Memorial
The Monchy-le-Preux Memorial is a Dominion of Newfoundland war memorial that commemorates the actions of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment during the Battle of Arras of World War I. The memorial commemorates an encounter that took place during the Arras offensive in which the British First and Third Armies attacked eastward from Arras on a 22-kilometre front; the 88th Brigade, the brigade in which the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was serving, was to execute a two-battalion attack against an objective known as Infantry Hill. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel James Forbes-Robertson, was on the right and the 1st Essex Battalion on the left. At 5:30 a.m. on 14 April, the barrage opened and the two battalions began their advance. As the Royal Newfoundland Regiment advanced towards the high ground of Infantry Hill they were subjected to a strong German counterattack which surrounded both the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the 1st Essex Battalion. By 9:00am the surviving groups of men were forced to surrender.
Although all communication by telephone had been cut by artillery fire, a wounded man from the 1st Essex Battalion managed to make it to battalion headquarters to report that all men in the 1st Essex Battalion and Royal Newfoundland Regiment had either been killed or captured. The Germans pressed their counterattack, soon advanced to the edge of Monchy-le-Preux capturing the trenches from which the 1st Essex Battalion and Royal Newfoundland Regiment had launched their attack. Lieutenant-Colonel James Forbes-Robertson collected all available men of his headquarters staff, as well as weapons and ammunition from dead and wounded soldiers, led twenty men through the shattered streets of Monchy-le-Preux under heavy artillery fire to a small berm on the outskirts of village. Establishing themselves in this shallow ditch the nine remaining men opened fire on the approaching Germans and kept the Germans ignorant of their pitifully weak numbers. A tenth man, knocked unconscious joined the other 9 an hour and a half later.
These ten men held their position for 11 hours until they were relieved after dark. After 4 hours they were able to send one of the men several kilometres to the rear to apprise the British of the situation which allowed them to get artillery support. A Platoon of Hampshires provided infantry support amongst the ruins of Monchy; the British bombardment not only helped keep the Germans at bay but led to a lot of the Newfoundland Regiment soldiers still lying wounded out in the field to be killed. Total casualties for the Royal Newfoundland Regiment numbered 460. 166 were killed or died of wounds, 141 were wounded and 153 became prisoners. The 1st Essex Battalion fared no better and suffered 602 casualties of which 400 were taken prisoner; the heroic action of these ten men, who never thought they would survive 15 minutes, let alone 11 hours stopped the British planners from major embarrassment. The planning of this action was so inept that had they been successful they would have occupied an extreme salient covering a lot of ground.
Far too much territory for the number of men sent out. As well the planners forgot to occupy the village in case of a counter attack; the village had been a hard won victory of the 37th Division only 3 days before. If those 10 men failed the Germans would have walked into Monchy and taken over, and considering Monchy's importance to the overall success of the Battle of Arras, this makes the mistake all the more incredible. The memorial is one of five memorials erected by the Newfoundland government following the First World War. Five were erected in France and Belgium and a sixth Caribou was a gift from Major Howe-Green to Bowring Park in St. John's, Canada; the memorials are all bronze caribou, the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, with most standing atop a cairn of Newfoundland granite and surrounded by native Newfoundland plants. The Monchy-le-Preux Memorial faces a point known at the time as Infantry Hill and is different from the other Newfoundland memorials in that it stands atop the ruins of what was a German bunker.
Busch, Briton Cooper. Canada and the Great War: Western Front Association Papers. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2570-X
The Dury Memorial is a World War I Canadian war memorial that commemorates the actions of the Canadian Corps in the Second Battle of Arras their breakthrough at the Drocourt–Quéant Line switch of the Hindenburg Line just south of the town of Dury. The Drocourt–Quéant Line was a main position in the German Army's defensive position in the area; the action took place on 2 and 3 September 1918 during a period known as the Hundred Days Offensive or Canada's Hundred Days. Noteworthy for such a brief battle was that seven Canadians earned a Victoria Cross on 2 September during the battle; the Canadian Battlefield Monument Commission established after the Great War was appointed to select the location and design of the memorials to commemorate the Canadian participation in the First World War. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial at Vimy Ridge was selected as the national memorial site and seven other locations at Hill 62, St. Julien and Passchendaele in Belgium, as well as Le Quesnel, Dury and Bourlon Wood in France were chosen to commemorate significant battles the Canadian Expeditionary Force had engaged in.
Each of the seven sites were to have an identical granite block inscribed with a brief description of the battle in both English and French. At Dury, the memorial is situated symbolically where the Drocourt–Quéant Line crossed the Arras–Cambrai Road; the Dury Memorial site is a small square park located on the north side of the D939 Route Nationale, south of Dury, between the cities of Arras and Cambrai. Tall, stately maple trees line three edges of the park and well kept lawns surround the low circular flagstone terrace that the granite memorial block rests on. Dury Memorial – Veteran's Affairs Canada Wikimapia satellite image of Dury Memorial site
Saint Julien Memorial
The St. Julien Memorial is a Canadian war memorial and small commemorative park located in the village of Saint-Julien, Belgium; the memorial commemorates the Canadian First Division's participation in the Second Battle of Ypres of World War I which included fighting in the face of the first poison gas attacks along the Western Front. Frederick Chapman Clemesha's sculpture, the Brooding Soldier, was selected to serve as the central feature of the monument following a design competition organized by the Canadian Battlefield Monument Commission in 1920; the village of Saint Julien and a section of forested land called Saint Julien Wood was at a pronounced bend in the north east sector of the Ypres Salient prior to the Second Battle of Ypres. The area was the junction between the British and French sectors of responsibility; the Canadian First Division was assigned the most northern section of the British line and to their left, the 45th Division held the southernmost end of the French line. The German Army had brought forward 168 tons of chlorine gas deployed in 5,730 cylinders buried in front of their trenches, opposite Langemark-Poelkapelle, north of Ypres.
The Canadians, moved into their positions only a few days earlier were manning the lines for several hundred metres along a front to the southwest of St. Julien when the German Army unleashed the first poison gas attack on the Western Front on 22 April 1915. Pushed towards the Allied lines by a wind from the north, the initial gas attack drifted to the north and west of the Canadian lines, into the trenches of the French colonial troops of the French 45th and 87th Divisions, of 26th Reserve Corps; the gas drifted across positions held French colonial troops who broke ranks and abandoned their trenches after witnessing the early casualties, creating an 8,000 yard gap in the Allied line. The German infantry were wary of the gas and, lacking reinforcements, failed to exploit the break before the First Canadian Division and assorted French troops reformed the line in scattered, hastily prepared positions 1,000 to 3,000 yards apart. In actions at Kitcheners Wood, Mauser Ridge, Pilkem Ridge and Gravenstafel Ridge the Canadians held the line and prevented a German breakthrough until they were relieved by reinforcements on the 24 April.
In the 48 crucial hours that they held the line, 6,035 Canadians - or one man in every three who went into battle - became casualties. At the end of the war, The Imperial War Graves Commission granted Canada eight sites - five in France and three in Belgium - on which to erect memorials; each site represented a significant Canadian engagement in the war and for this reason it was decided that each battlefield would be treated and graced with identical monuments. The Canadian Battlefields Memorials Commission was formed in November 1920 and decided a competition would be held to select the design of the memorial that would be used at the eight European sites. In October 1922, the submission of Toronto sculptor and designer Walter Seymour Allward was selected as the winner of the competition, the submission of Frederick Chapman Clemesha placed second; the commission decided Allward's monumental design would be used at Vimy Ridge in France as it was the most dramatic location. Clemesha's'Brooding Soldier' design was selected for the remaining sites but was for a number of reasons, erected only at Saint Julien in Belgium.
The remaining six sites at Passchendaele, Hill 62 in Belgium and Le Quesnel, Dury and Bourlon Wood in France each received an identical Canadian granite block memorial marker, differentiated only with brief inscriptions that describe the battle they commemorate in English and French on their sides. The blocks are situated in small parks that vary in shape and design and are situated on key points of the battlefield they memorialize; the memorial at Saint Julien was unveiled on 8 July 1923 by Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and the tribute was made by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, former Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers on the Western Front. In his address, Foch stated, they wrote here the first page in that Book of Glory, the history of their participation in the war." After their completion in the mid-1920s, the sites became links in a chain of memorials that included 900+ Commonwealth cemeteries, making a road of remembrance or via dolorosa. The memorial is found on the northern fringe of the village of Saint Julien at the intersection of the N313 road and Zonnebekestraat.
During the war, the location where the memorial is located was known as Vancouver Corner. Visible for miles around, the memorial stands 11 metres tall. The'Brooding Soldier' column rises from a low circular flagstone terrace and is sculpted at its top to form the bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier; the soldier's hands resting are on the butt of his down-turned rifle in the'arms reversed' position, a pose used as gesture of mourning and respect for the fallen performed at funerals and services of remembrance. Surrounding the column and central terrace are gardens of tall cedars trimmed into the shape of artillery shells and low cut cedars trimmed to look like shell explosions; some of the soil that nourishes the gardens of the memorial was brought from various locations from across Canada to represent the broad spectrum of Canadian men who fought shoulder to shoulder on the battlefields of 1915. A replica of Clemesha's St-Julien monument was incorporated into
Canadian Expeditionary Force
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 largest of, the Canadian Corps, consisting of four divisions; the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and the Canadian Independent Force, which were independent of the Canadian Corps fought on the Western Front. The CEF had a large reserve and training organization in England, a recruiting organization in Canada. In the stages of the European war after their success at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, the Canadian Corps was regarded by friend and foe alike as one of the most effective Allied military formations on the Western Front. In August 1918, the CEF's Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force travelled to revolution-torn Russia, 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, where they fought against Bolsheviks.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force was volunteers. In all, 24,132 conscripts had been sent to France to take part in the final Hundred Days campaign; as a Dominion in the British Empire, Canada was automatically at war with Germany upon the British declaration. Popular support for the war was found in English Canada. Of the first contingent formed at Valcartier, Quebec in 1914, about two-thirds were men, born in the United Kingdom. By the end of the war in 1918, at least half of the soldiers were British-born. Recruiting was difficult among the French-Canadian population, many of whom did not agree with supporting Canada's participation in the war. To a lesser extent, several other cultural groups within the Dominion enlisted and made a significant contribution to the Force including Indigenous people of the First Nations, Black Canadians as well as Black Americans. Many British nationals from the United Kingdom or other territories who were resident in Canada joined the CEF. A sizeable percentage of Bermuda's volunteers who served in the war joined the CEF, either because they were resident in Canada or because Canada was the easiest other part of the Empire and Commonwealth to reach from Bermuda.
As several CEF battalions were posted to the Bermuda Garrison before proceeding to France, islanders were able to enlist there. Although the Bermuda Militia Artillery and Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps both sent contingents to the Western Front, the first would not arrive there until June 1915. By many Bermudians had been serving on the Western Front in the CEF for months. Bermudians in the CEF enlisted under the same terms as Canadians, all male British Nationals resident in Canada became liable for conscription under the Military Service Act, 1917; the CEF raised 260 numbered infantry battalions, two named infantry battalions, 17 mounted regiments, 13 railway troop battalions, five pioneer battalions, four divisional supply trains, four divisional signals companies, a dozen engineering companies, over 80 field and heavy artillery batteries, fifteen field ambulance units, 23 general and stationary hospitals, many other medical, forestry, tunnelling and service units. Two tank battalions 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, in keeping with changing technological and tactical requirements. Another entity within the Canadian Expeditionary Force was the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, it consisted of several motor machine gun battalions, the Eatons and Borden Motor Machine Gun Batteries, nineteen machine gun companies. During the summer of 1918, these units were consolidated into four machine gun battalions, one being attached to each of the four divisions in the Canadian Corps; the Canadian Corps with its four infantry divisions comprised the main fighting force of the CEF. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade served in France. Support units of the CEF included the Canadian Railway Troops, which served on the Western Front and provided a bridging unit for the Middle East.
The 1915 Battle of Ypres, the first engagement of Canadian forces in the Great War, exposed Canadian soldiers and their commanders to modern war. They had experienced the effects of shellfire and participated in aggressive trench raiding despite a lack of formal training and inferior equipment, they were equipped with the malfunctioning Ross rifle, the older and less reliable Colt machine gun and an inferior Canadian copy of British webbing equipment that rotted and fell apart in the wet of the trenches. In April 1915, they were introduced to yet another facet of gas; the Germans employed chlorine gas to create a hole in the French lines adjacent to the Canadian force and poured troops into the gap. The Canadians, operating for the most part in small groups and under local commanders, fi