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World War I Battles Involving Canadian Soldiers. 1. Background. In Europe, two fronts were formed... Russia and Germany to the east; the Allies and Germany to the west Schlieffen Plan: Russia would take at least 6 weeks to mobilize. France would be easily defeated in 6 weeks.

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World war i battles involving canadian soldiers
World War I BattlesInvolving Canadian Soldiers



  • In Europe, two fronts were formed... Russia and Germany to the east; the Allies and Germany to the west

  • Schlieffen Plan:

    • Russia would take at least 6 weeks to mobilize.

    • France would be easily defeated in 6 weeks.

    • Belgium would not resist any German attack.

    • Britain would remain neutral.


  • The plan almost worked, as the Germans got to within 30 km of Paris (Battle of the Marne)

  • By Christmas, both sides were entrenched in their positions, unable to move forward and unwilling to retreat

  • War of attrition began... each side attempts to wear down the other (side with most supplies and men wins)

Battle of ypres 1915
Battle of Ypres (1915)

  • Canadian soldiers were honoured to defend the last bit of Belgian land held by the Allied forces

  • Canadians fought in the battle alongside the French-Algerian troops

Battle of ypres continued
Battle of Ypres (continued)

  • Allied trenches were surrounded on three sides by German trenches

  • Then the Germans unleashed a weapon which had been outlawed in 1907

Battle of ypres continued1
Battle of Ypres (continued)

  • Germans unleashed chlorine gas for the first time

  • The French-Algerian troops ran

  • The Canadians held for four days

Battle of ypres continued2
Battle of Ypres (continued)

  • Canada lost between 5000 - 6000 soldiers in the battle... one in five was a casualty or was missing

  • Canada won high praise as a courageous nation

Battle of ypres continued3
Battle of Ypres (continued)

  • The standing soldier exemplifies the courage and resolve of the inexperienced Canadians in their first major battle

Battle of the somme 1916
Battle of the Somme (1916)

  • British commander, Douglas Haig wanted to smash through German lines

  • His strategy was to bomb the German lines in hope that the shelling would wipe out the front lines

Battle of the somme continued
Battle of the Somme (continued)

  • After the bombing, the allied infantry would be able to break through these front lines

  • It was said the bombing could be heard as far away as London

Battle of the somme continued1
Battle of the Somme (continued)

  • Sir Douglas Haig explained the importance of using heavy artillery at the Battle of the Somme in his book Dispatches, that was published after the war

Battle of the Somme (continued)

  • “The enemy’s position to be attacked was of a very formidable character, situated on a high, undulating tract of ground. The first and second systems each consisted of several lines of deep trenches, well provided with bomb-proof shelters and with numerous communication trenches connecting them. The front of the trenches in each system was protected by wire entanglements, many of them in two belts forty yards broad, built of iron stakes, interlaced with barbed-wire, often almost as thick as a man's finger. Defences of this nature could only be attacked with the prospect of success after careful artillery preparation.”

Battle of the somme continued2
Battle of the Somme (continued)

  • Haig’s strategy was badly outdated

  • Germans hid in massive concrete trenches and knew that when the shelling stopped the allied troops would be on their way

Battle of the somme continued3
Battle of the Somme (continued)

  • German machine gunners easily stopped all allied troops who went “over the top”

Battle of the somme continued4
Battle of the Somme (continued)

  • 1.25 million men were killed or wounded at the Somme and Britain had advanced less than 12 km

  • German machine-gunner at the Somme:“The officers were in the front. I noticed one of them walking calmly carrying a walking stick. When we started firing we just had to load and reload. They went down in their hundreds. You didn’t have to aim, we just fired into them.”

Battle of vimy ridge 1917
Battle of Vimy Ridge (1917)

  • The Germans had held this 60 metre high ridge since the beginning of the war. It gave the Germans a commanding view ofthe British army and protected a vital area of occupied France that produced supplies for Germany

Battle of vimy ridge continued
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • Thus the Ridge was heavily fortified. Britain and France had tried many times to take Vimy Ridge with no success. Germany was confident it could not be taken

  • “German occupying troops controlled the ridge using a network of trenches that snaked along the crest and down into the valley, connecting with another network of natural caves. 150,000 French and British soldiers had died trying to take it back. Allied commanders believed the ridge to be impregnable.”

Battle of vimy ridge continued1
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • The Canadian Corps, under General Julian Byng and Canadian Major General Arthur Currie, were assigned the task to take Vimy Ridge

  • Following the capture of Vimy, Arthur Currie was promoted to commander of the Canadian Corps

Battle of vimy ridge continued2
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • The Canadian soldiers used thorough research, preparation, practice, a surprise attack and great discipline and courage to win the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Battle of vimy ridge continued3
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • The Vimy Glide was a brisk walking pace, soldiers moving forward precisely 100 yards every three minutes. The stop watch efficiency was critical, as an accurate pace meant that you would remain behind the incoming artillery barrage that was dropping down directly in front of you, cutting a path through the barbed wire and enemy positions that were spread across your advance.

Battle of vimy ridge continued4
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • This is UNIQUE as this map (sketch of what appears to be the attack plan on the trench map) could hardly be seen on the original document. Scanning the document made it clearly visible!

Battle of vimy ridge continued6
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • At zero hours we leave our assembly trenches and push forward as soon as possible.  The whole idea being to get into "No Mans Land" before Hun barrage starts.  24th & 25th take first two German lines.  Short yards at first line.  Barrage works back until it reaches Black Line. At 0+34 barrage lifts & 20th B takes Black line. Meanwhile we lie at N front line trench.  Each camp then move up without orders to German 3rd line and try and reorganize.  Do not bother about straightness of line but follow the barrage.

Battle of vimy ridge continued8
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • Although 3500 Canadians died, Canada successfully captured Vimy in just a couple of days

  • For the first time Canadians attacked and triumphed together (all four divisions fought together)

  • The Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge is seen by many as the “Birth of a Nation”

Battle of vimy ridge continued9
Battle of Vimy Ridge (continued)

  • It was one of the swiftest and most complete victories of the entire war

  • It united Canadians and brought honour and pride to the young nation

  • From this point forward, Canadian troops were commanded by their own generals

Battle of passchendaele 1917
Battle of Passchendaele (1917)

  • British general Douglas Haig, against all advice, still wanted to break through the German front

  • As part of the attack, Canadian corps were to attack Passchendaele

Battle of passchendaele continued
Battle of Passchendaele (continued)

  • The battlefield was a nightmare of marshes and swamps, and the Germans held the high ground above the battlefield

Battle of passchendaele continued1
Battle of Passchendaele (continued)

  • Canadians were able to take Passchendaele, but at a cost of 15,654 men

  • Following the battle, nine Canadians received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honour

Les cents jours du canada 1918
Les Cents Jours du Canada (1918)

Les Cents Jours du Canada was a series of attacks made during the Hundred Days Offensive of World War I.

Canada played a substantial role in defeating or causing the retreat of the Germans Army in a number of battles along the Western Front

Last battle was fought at Mons the final day of the war following German abdication and surrender