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Canada Prepares for War

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Canada Prepares for War

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  1. Canada Prepares for War

  2. War is Declared • Canada was part of the British Commonwealth in 1914. • This meant Canada could control its Domestic Policy (inside of Canada) but Britain controlled its Foreign Policy (relations with other countries) • Therefore, when Britain declared war, Canada was automatically involved. • We had no choice

  3. The Canadian Expeditionary Force • Canada had no professional Army • Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Border realizes that Canada must build an army quickly in order to live up to their colonial obligations • Sir Sam Hughes (the Minister of Militia) is selected to build the Canadian Expeditionary Force

  4. Sir Sam’s Achievements • Hughes was an excellent recruiter – thousands of men volunteered in the first months of the war • Most Canadian’s were British and many felt compelled to defend England • Also, most recruits expected an adventure and that the war would be short • Hughes also built a large training camp at Valcartier, Quebec in record time. • Thanks to Hughes, large amounts of Canadian men would be ready to fight by early 1915

  5. Sir Sam’s Failures Part 1:Training • Canada had few men with modern military experience. • Therefore, the training soldiers received at Valcartier was often useless and outdated • The training was so bad that when Canadians were sent to Britain, they were assessed as “Not Fit for Combat” • The British had to re-train Canadian at Salisbury Plain, a base in England

  6. Sir Sam’s Failures Part 2:Uniforms • Hughes gave military contracts for clothing and equipment to personal acquaintances and sub-standard contractors • Therefore, Canadian equipment was not fit for Trench Warfare • Uniforms fit poorly, were extremely itchy and had weak stitching • In the wet trenches, many uniforms simply fell apart • Canadian boots were even worse • Instead of Leather or Rubber, boots were made with thick, treated paper. If they stayed wet, they would often disintegrate

  7. Sir Sam’s Failures Part 3:The Mac Adam Shovel • Hughes order that every soldier be given a MacAdam shovel as their entrenchment tool • This shovel was too short and heavy to be useful in the trenches • Also, the shovel had a hole in the blade, to allow it to be used as a shield • This meant it was completely useless at moving wet soil.

  8. Sir Sam’s Failures Part 4:The Ross Rifle • Modeled after a successful hunting Rifle, the Ross Rifle was given to every Canadian Soldier • It was too long and heavy to be used effectively in the trenches • Although it was accurate, it jammed if it got dirty, wet, cold or hot. • Many Canadian died because their rifle failed them in combat

  9. The fate of Sam Hughes • Canadian Soldiers often stole equipment from British depots in order to survive. • However, Sam Hughes refused to back down and insisted that his choices were correct • He ordered the Canadian soldiers found without their original equipment would be arrested (court marshaled) • Hughes resigned in 1916 after pressure from Sir Robert Borden • After this, the Canadian Army starting purchasing good quality British Equipment

  10. Canada’s Baptism by Fire:The Battle of Ypres • The First Canadian division got to France in early 1915 and were sent to defend the Trenches around Ypres, the last free Belgian city • Supporting the Canadians were untested French troops from Algeria • The Germans realized they were facing soldiers with no experience and decided to take advantage of the situation • On April 22, 1915 the Second Battle of Ypres began

  11. Poison Gas • The Germans unleashed their newest weapon on the Algerians and Canadians: Chlorine Gas • As the Germans released the gas, a thick green cloud came from their Trenches and drifted over no-man’s-land. • The Algerians panicked and ran away while choking and dying from the gas

  12. The Canadians Hold their Ground • The Canadians used urine soaked rags to neutralize the gas • Although they were under horrible conditions, using poor equipment and outnumbered, the Canadians held off the German Assault • The Germans continued to hammer the Canadaians for 17 straighrt days • The 1st Canadian divsion suffered 50% casualties in the battle but held the line • Canadians quickly earned a reputation as being smart and tough

  13. Key Points • Canada was not prepared for war • Sam Hughes did a poor job building Canada’s Army • The Ross Rifle, MacAdam Shovel, training programs, uniforms and boots were all a disaster • Canadians won at the Battle of Ypres despite facing chlorine gas