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CWM painting by Nicholson

CWM – 19710261-0537 painting by Sir William Nicholson

Canadian Headquarters Staff, 1918 – A group portrait of Generals Richard Turner, Alexander McRae, Harold McDonald, Gilbert Foster, Percival Thacker and Major Furry Montague. 

“We few, we happy few...” Canadian Generalship in the First World War

by Major John R. Grodzinski

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The challenges the Canadian Militia1 faced in 1914 were monumental. Reform and change over the previous decade had created the basic elements of a professional peacetime army, but none of these changes had been tested in combat. As part of a larger Imperial Army, strategy and doctrine were the concern of the British, and Canadian military leaders interested in reforming the militia found themselves caught in a political system more interested in patronage than in military matters. Nonetheless, a country with almost no professional military ethic, nor sufficient equipment to field an expeditionary force, generated a great corps during the Great War. With a militia of 77,323 all ranks and no truly deployable field formation or officers trained to lead such a formation, the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), by Easter 1917, consisted of a corps with four divisions and additional corps troops totalling 97,184 of all ranks. And with attachments, this total jumped to 172,486 personnel all told.2 

Expansion of this magnitude brought demands for thousands of section commanders, hundreds of platoon leaders,3 and numerous commanders for the companies, batteries, squadrons, battalions, artillery brigades, and other elements that made up the force. More significantly, by 1915, Canadian officers would be leading divisions, and, by 1917, a Canadian would command the corps. This was unprecedented, and it speaks highly of how well Canadian officers had matured and progressed with respect to their combat professionalism. Canada was not only challenged to produce a number of competent formation commanders, but also to find resilient, robust thinkers who could see beyond existing problems and shortcomings, and provide the leadership needed to ensure that solutions were implemented.

This article will examine that loneliest of jobs, formation command. It will focus on the field commanders – those General Officers Commanding (GOCs) of the four field divisions – as well as on the single Canadian-born corps commander. It will be argued that nothing experienced within the pre-war militia – the courses, the training, the exercises, and the intellectual environment – provided the necessary prerequisites to develop effective formation commanders. Two key elements will be considered in the development and employment of these general officers. First, the pre-war activity undertaken by the Permanent Force and the Non-Permanent Force (the Canadian Militia) in providing the training and experience necessary for formation command will be examined. Second, the mechanism by which officers found themselves in key command positions will be scrutinized. After all, it is one thing to provide training and experience for officers, but quite another to ensure that the most competent and professional of these individuals obtain senior appointments.4

Without a doubt, one of the best wartime forces fielded to date by this country was the Canadian Corps of the Great War. Built from almost nothing in 1914, by 1918 it had matured into one of the largest, most ably led and skilful corps serving on the Western Front. 

The Situation Prior to 1914

Officer training prior to 1914 included combat arm specific training (for example, that pertaining to infantry or cavalry personnel), technical courses for the artillery and the engineers, and generalized staff training. Officers had to demonstrate tactical fitness for command, and also were expected to hold responsible staff appointments. The schools of military instruction, as they were then known, were conducted by the Permanent Force, and they provided opportunities to the Permanent Force and the militia for training within the specific combat arms. These schools first opened in 1899, and all officers of the Permanent Force and Instructional Corps had to complete professional examinations at each rank level before being recommended for promotion to that rank.5 Courses were held at various Royal Schools of Instruction across Canada, or at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. By way of example, junior officers were expected to obtain a subaltern’s or a captain’s certificate, while field officers and adjutants had to complete successfully an examination in order to qualify for a field officer’s certificate.6 A select number of officers were given a seven-month Long Course, which offered further staff training. The first such course was conducted in 1886, and revived in 1897. By 1912, the Long Course had become a necessary prerequisite for enrolment in the Permanent Force from the militia.7 Other formations, such as the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, offered opportunities to attend courses at Woolwich and Shoeburyness in the United Kingdom.

Staff Training – Canada and United Kingdom

Staff training provided select Permanent Force officers with instruction in the art of war and in staff duties, while the militia version enabled officers to “...obtain such instruction as will better fit them for employment on the staff of units and formations in the field.”8 Permanent Force officers received staff training at the British Staff College in Camberley, while those in the Non-Permanent Force attended the Militia Staff Course in Canada. During 1909, an attempt was made to create a Canadian staff college, but “...it was deemed necessary to send officers to the staff college in England for the foreseeable future.”9 Indeed, it would not be until 1946 that an Army Staff College was finally opened in Kingston.

Captain Daniel Isaac Vernon Eaton of the Royal Canadian Artillery was the first Permanent Force officer selected to attend Camberley Staff College in 1897,10 although he was unable to actually attend until January 1903, graduating two years later.11 Another artillery officer, Major HE Burstall, followed Eaton, as did Captain (Brevet Major) Archibald Cameron. Macdonell of the Royal Canadian Regiment, who graduated in 1907.12 Sixteen officers of the Permanent Force had graduated from Camberley by March 1914.13 Compared to their Imperial brethren, the Canadians suffered from their lack of prior experience and proper instruction, which resulted in them having some difficulty in keeping up with the course curriculum.14 To help alleviate this problem, a preparatory course eventually was established in May 1910 at Royal Military College,15 where candidates had to pass entrance examinations as detailed in Staff College Regulations. Of interest, test subjects of the day included arithmetic and mensuration (measurement), algebra, Euclid, military engineering, topography, tactics, military law, military administration, military history and strategy, military geography, and French.16 

The militia staff course for Non-Permanent Officers was introduced in 1889, but was terminated in 1903 over a disagreement between the Minister of Militia and the General Officer Commanding the Canadian Militia with respect to the selection of candidates. It was not revived until 1908. This course qualified personnel for staff employment at camps of instruction and upon mobilization, and it was conducted in two phases. The first portion was theoretical; it lasted four months, and included a series of weekly two-hour lectures on tactics, topography, and military administration. The practical portion occurred over a 10-week period during the summer, and was conducted either in Kingston or Petawawa. Candidates had to successfully complete an examination at the end of each phase. The first theoretical portions of the course were conducted in Toronto, Montréal, and Halifax in December 1909, with five candidates attending each training centre.17 One hundred and twenty-four officers had successfully completed the Militia Staff Course by 1914.18 Another innovation developed to provide officers more experience commenced in 1906, when temporary interchanges of officers were commenced with the armies of India and Australia.19

Higher Level Training in the Permanent Force

Schools and courses provided theoretical and limited practical exposure to arms specific skills, staff duties, and command issues. However, field training was necessary to reinforce and to maintain these skills, largely through collective unit training. This should not be surprising, given the size and structure of the Permanent Force, where sub-units were often scattered over several garrison locations. Adequate field training could only be provided when these units were concentrated in one place.

Permanent Force ‘concentrations’ only occurred three times between 1894 and 1914. The first two concentrations involved only a single unit, while the final occasion involved most of the Permanent Force. In 1894, this force included the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, and the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, totalling 904 personnel of all ranks. The Royal Canadian Regiment alone accounted for 395 of these individuals.20 In 1901, the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles, who, in 1909, would become Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment, were formed in Winnipeg, and by the early 1900s, a number of support corps had also been established. By 31 March 1910, the Permanent Force had grown to 206 officers and 2591 men, with the Royal Canadian Regiment now boasting 944 personnel, more than that of the entire Permanent Force in 1894.21

The first concentration occurred in 1894, when the dispersed companies of the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry were brought together.22 Five years later, the four companies of this regiment were again concentrated, this time at Rockcliffe, near Ottawa, to conduct battalion level training23 under Lieutenant-Colonel William Dillon Otter, the unit’s commanding officer. Training included battalion attacks, the defence of defiles, woods, and bridges, actions against cavalry and artillery, escorts to guns and convoys, musketry, and drills. 

An insight into the scope of training of the period is provided by the instructions given for Tactical Exercise No. XI,24 a night exercise conducted on 22 August 1894. The general idea was that a Red Force25 would be entrenched near Rockcliffe, while an enemy Blue Force would be sited about three miles east of that position on the right bank of the Ottawa River. Blue Force was to reconnoitre the Red Force entrenched position, and, if possible, was to conduct an assault upon it. The entrenchment was not considered formidable. Blue Force included the Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry, the Governor General’s Foot Guards, and the 43rd Rifles, minus one company. The Red Force represented a battalion in defence, and it possessed six guns from the 2nd Field Battery and one infantry company from the 43rd Rifles. Eventually, after both Forces were in position, Blue Force advanced in three columns, each column travelling along a compass bearing or prescribed route to a concentration point. Unfortunately for them, the compass bearings and distance to march were not given in orders, leaving each unit to determine these individually. The 43rd Rifles arrived first in the concentration area, and, after waiting for the other two units to arrive, chose to conduct an attack alone and unsupported. The assault was easily repelled and the umpires ordered the battalion to retire. The Royal Canadian Regiment and the Foot Guards then arrived and “...advanced to the attack in excellent order, delivering their final assault at 2234 hours. This two minutes of glory ceased two minutes later when the ceasefire was sounded at 2236 hours.” Despite the problems, this night exercise, probably the first conducted in Canada, was hailed as an unqualified success. The exercise report noted that the “want of care in methodically arranging for and carrying out the formation of the columns for assault by the whole brigade before moving to the assault” was wrong, and that the guiding principle for night attacks should be a clearly defined and carefully marked alignment,26 which, given the experience level of the participants, constituted an important lesson.27


CWM – 19710261-0394 painting by Harrington Mann

Lieutenant-General Sir Sam Hughes

In 1907, most of the Permanent Force was assembled for the first time at the recently opened camp in Petawawa, Ontario. Included were both squadrons of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, two batteries of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, a heavy battery from the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, a company of the Royal Canadian Engineers, eight companies from the Royal Canadian Regiment, and detachments from the Permanent Army Medical Corps, the Permanent Army Service Corps, and the Canadian Ordnance Corps. Due to their distance from Petawawa, the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles, garrisoned in Winnipeg, did not attend.

The commandant appointed for this exercise was William Otter, now a brigadier-general, with Lieutenant-Colonel W.G. Gwatkin, a British officer serving in Canada, acting as Chief Staff Officer. The Permanent Force units arrived in Petawawa throughout June and early July, and training commenced shortlythereafter. A squadron of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and a battery of Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, also conducted movement exercises while enroute to Petawawa.

The first object of the exercise was to allow units to complete their annual squadron, battery, or company training on ground suitable for up-to-date training, something that had been impossible at their home stations. For example, this was the first occasion where two batteries of horse artillery were able to operate in an artillery brigade environment,28 and this was followed by combined training and field operations that previously had also been impossible. Other activity included: 

  • Reconnaissance and scouting by cavalry and infantry;

  • Convoys and marches; and

  • Fire-discipline and field firing operations of all arms in combination.29

Afterwards, the importance of collective training was considered so essential that hopes were expressed for it to become an annual event, although it was anticipated that the Winnipeg-based Permanent Force units would never be able to train with other Permanent Force units, due to distances involved.30 Plans were developed for the Permanent Force to undergo yearly progressive training commencing in September, and culminating with combined training in a central summer camp each August.31 This would not occur. Support for the tercentenary celebrations of the founding of Québec in 1908, combined with funding limitations, precluded any collective training that year. And other reasons prevented this training from occurring until 1914.

Opportunities for Formation Command – The Militia

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, opportunities for collective training and some experience at formation level command were somewhat better in the militia. Commencing in 1906, the militia was organized into 20 infantry brigades and seven mounted or cavalry brigades.32 In April 1911, in order to meet the needs of the first mobilization plans developed for Canada, the four Commands designated in Ontario, Québec, and the Maritimes were reconstituted as six divisional areas, collectively providing six infantry divisions and four cavalry brigades.33 Upon mobilization, these formations, augmented by units in western Canada, would form an expeditionary force of one infantry division and a mounted brigade. However, due to funding, manpower, or equipment shortages, some headquarters and units within each division and cavalry brigade were not actually organized.

The divisional areas were largely administrative formations, while the brigades and units within them were regrouped to reflect the recent restructuring. Each division34 had three infantry brigades, each of three or four regiments,35 and divisional troops as follows:

  • Divisional mounted troops – a cavalry regiment and a company of mounted guides;

  • Divisional artillery – a headquarters, three field brigades,36 a howitzer brigade, and two ammunition columns;

  • Divisional engineers – two field companies and two telegraph companies;

  • A Divisional train – a headquarters and three army service corps companies; and

  • Divisional medical units – three field ambulances.

Cavalry brigades consisted of three cavalry regiments, a horse battery, an ammunition column, a troop of engineers, a wireless telegraphic detachment, a company from the army service corps, and a cavalry field ambulance.

A colonel normally held command of a divisional area, although there were exceptions, such as in the 2nd Divisional Area, which was commanded by Major-General F.L. Lessard from December 1912.37 Cavalry and infantry brigades were commanded by lieutenant-colonels. Units surplus to the mobilization structure were grouped as ‘other units in the command,’ while Military Districts 10, 11, and 13 in western Canada also maintained a number of infantry and cavalry brigades.38

Training was conducted annually at camps of instruction for periods of about two weeks, in locations such as Goderich, Niagara Camp, and Kingston in Ontario; Laprairie, Three Rivers, and Levis in Québec; and Sussex, Aldershot and Charlottetown in the Maritimes. Each camp included a commandant with a dedicated staff, and a number of brigade staffs and units. Training included various courses of instruction, and it provided “...sufficient drill and manoeuvre to enable troops to cooperate and act together in the field.”39 However, this was unit level training, and formation level collective training, as we know it today, never occurred. Cavalry and artillery training was handicapped by the size of the training camps, while the quality of training was generally reported as unsatisfactory. Reduced attendance and increasing numbers of unqualified officers constituted significant impediments to progress. 

Canadian General Officers

By 1914, Canada had few general officers. Although Canada had seen its share of senior military commanders throughout its history to this point in time, Canadian general officers were not appointed in the Canadian Militia until 1 May 1905, when William Dillon Otter became the first Canadian-born general officer.40 Until then, British officers had held all the general officer appointments. Four more Canadian brigadier-generals were appointed on 1 April 1907,41 another in 1911,42 and in 1912, four Canadian officers were advanced to the rank of major-general. Two of them commanded divisional areas, while the remainder held down staff positions at Militia Headquarters. Except for Otter, who had commanded the brief concentration of the Permanent Force in 1907, none of the rest had ever held field formation command. By September 1914, only two major-generals remained on the active duty rolls.


The Situation on Eve of the War

Viewed objectively and pragmatically, the training situation prior to 1914 was unsatisfactory. It is estimated that about one-fifth of the pre-war officer corps was unqualified for the rank held,43 while most of the officer corps had received training appropriate only to unit level employment. Formation command requires high-level training, such as that provided by the Staff College at Camberley or by the Militia Staff Course. Only 124 staff-qualified militia officers were graduated between 1910 and 1914,44 while the Permanent Force possessed only 15 officers with this training.45 Of these, one was a colonel, two were lieutenant-colonels, and the remainder were majors. 

As previously noted, the Permanent Force had experienced hardly any collective training. Given the demand to conduct schools of instruction, Permanent Force units normally trained only at the sub-unit level, and aside from that one occurrence in 1907, force officers received no collective training. Within the militia, things were not much better. On paper, there existed a divisional structure, but these formations never had an opportunity to exercise together. When field training was conducted, scope and geographical space available limited such training to the unit level, ensuring that, aside from matters of camp administration, no officer gained any formation command experience. One must conclude that the formal training and courses conducted prior to 1914 in no way prepared the militia officer corps for the First World War, nor, by the standards of the time, had the militia developed officers who would shortly become capable divisional and corps commanders.

The First World War

If one accepts that the Canadian Corps eventually became one of the finest fighting formations in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), then how, if that formation demanded stellar leadership, did Canada ultimately produce such high-quality formation commanders? Battle and campaign studies could demonstrate just how these officers attained and developed their command styles. Perhaps a study of commander/staff relationships might reveal that a superior command, control, and staff planning system was responsible for this success. Or we might surmise that the presence of a few bright men, possessing some experience and training, given the right opportunities, and supported by nurturing leadership, was responsible for the Corps’s success. Given the conditions within the militia prior to 1914, one is forced to examine the latter possibility, and if this is correct, then the answer must lie at least partially in how these individuals were identified for command, no matter how haphazard that system might have been. 

Canada’s personnel contributions during the First World War were the largest of the overseas Dominions. Within four years, 619,636 Canadian men and women would serve overseas, and 51,748 of them would be killed in action, or would subsequently perish from their wounds. Another 7796 died from diseases, generating a total of 59,544 fatal casualties. To this must be added another 172,950 battle and other non-fatal casualties, meaning that a total of 232,494 members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were either killed or wounded during the war, and these figures do not include Canadians who became casualties serving outside the CEF, such as in the flying or naval services. Nor does it include casualties from what was then the Dominion of Newfoundland.46 Commencing the war with 31,963 personnel in September 1914, the CEF peaked in July 1918, with a complement of 388,038 uniformed men and women. 

Pre-war plans relied on the militia to form an expeditionary force of one division and a mounted brigade. Shortly after the outbreak of war, Canada commenced mobilizing a division-sized contingent that sailed for the United Kingdom in October 1914. Eventually known as the 1st Canadian Division, it trained in England, despite abysmal weather, until early 1915, when it was reorganized and sent to France. Surplus units remained behind to form training depots and a mounted brigade.47 A second division commenced mobilization in Canada in October 1914, followed by the 3rd Division, which was formed from units already garrisoned in England in December 1915. Two more formations, the 4th and 5th Divisions, were established under similar circumstances in England in January 1916 and January 1917 respectively. The first two divisions were grouped as the Canadian Corps in September 1915, and were joined by the 3rd and 4th Divisions in 1916 and 1917. Corps artillery, engineer, and machine gun formations, as well as many other units, also formed part of the Canadian Corps. A number of other units, such as the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, railway troops, and personnel of the Canadian Forestry Corps, also served outside of the Canadian Corps. 

When Shakespeare’s Henry V spoke of “...we few, we happy few, we band of brothers,”48 the immortal bard could have been writing of Canadian divisional commanders in the Great War. Only nine Canadian and three British officers led Canadian divisions – a miniscule, select group to be sure. Of the Canadians, seven actually commanded in the field; one was replaced before his formation deployed to France, and another, commanding the 5th Division, lost his appointment when his division was broken up in England. One was killed in action, while another, commanding the 4th Division, held his post for an unprecedented period of three years – most of which occurred on active operations!

As none of the active general officers in the Canadian militia in 1914 would serve in any capacity overseas, new generals had to be found within the CEF itself. The first four new general officers (three brigade commanders and the divisional artillery commander) for the 1st Division were appointed in 1914. By 1918, there were 85 serving Canadian general officers. Of these men, 30 came from the Permanent Force, 52 from the militia, and three actually had acquired little or no previous military experience. Only a handful eventually held field command. Of the Permanent Force officers who achieved general officer status, three were majors, and one was a captain in 1914. The sole lieutenant to achieve general officer status is an interesting study. After holding a number of staff positions and commanding two schools, he was seconded to the fledgling Royal Air Force to train officer candidates.49 Of the 52 general officers that originated with the Non-Permanent Force, over half were colonels or lieutenant-colonels, one was a captain, and two were lieutenants in 1914. Upon mobilization, most of the 19 majors soon found themselves commanding battalions. 

In both components, formal staff training did not appear to affect advancement. The critical factor became performance in combat, combined with the ability to innovate and the command presence to impress these skills upon subordinates. This is particularly true of the very senior leadership, such as Sir Arthur Currie, whose “skilled and forceful generalship”50 created an efficient staff, ensured the adoption of new procedures and tactics, and improved training within the corps’ schools. He encouraged subordinates to use their initiative to find solutions, and he also created an atmosphere that encouraged ideas to flow upwards from below.51 His innovations led to the re-organization of artillery, machine gun, and engineer units, as well as procedures with respect to their employment, to ensure that maximum military effectiveness reduced casualties whenever and wherever possible. However, credit must certainly be given to the British general, Sir Julian Byng, who, while in command of the Canadian Corps, initiated many of these practices that culminated in the great Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

As was mentioned earlier, only a few of all the Canadian general officers actually held line positions, and they will now become the focus of this study. This group led the corps and the divisions, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, held key corps staff positions, and command divisional artillery assets. Ultimately, we are left to consider the combat contributions of 21 general officers.52

Means of Selecting Formation Commanders 

The selection and advancement of Canadian general officers was a point of great concern for Canadian political and military leaders throughout the war. Not only did this issue involve national prestige, but it also came in response to an impression that British generals were incompetent, and should not be made responsible for Canadian soldiers. This question brought Sir Arthur Currie into direct conflict with Sir Sam Hughes, Canada’s Minister of Militia and Defence, with Hughes’s son Garnet, and with Sir George Perley, who would serve as the Minister of Overseas Forces of Canada in London. 

Canadian control over promotions and appointments awaited the development of a properly mandated, recognized overseas authority, created to ensure that the British respected Canadian nominations, and that the Canadian Corps respected the overseas authority’s instructions. Between 1914 and 1916, the creation of what we would today call a National Command Element was plagued by a confusion of authority and by interference from the Minister of Militia and Defence. Until these problems were resolved, traits of professionalism and competence would, unfortunately, not be critical factors for selection of formation commanders. And these problems originated with the first Canadian mobilization plans.

In 1911, Colonel W.G. Gwatkin, a British general staff officer sent to Canada to head the mobilization committee, began the confidential planning for raising a Canadian expeditionary force. The planned contingent would include an infantry division and a mounted brigade, totalling 24,000 personnel. Using a decentralized approach, Gwatkin planned that, during mobilization, the divisional and district commanders would choose their own concentration areas before the entire contingent was sent to Petawawa, or moved directly to a port of embarkation, depending upon the season. Understanding the politics of the Canadian Militia, Gwatkin abandoned any hope of leaving senior appointments to a professionally constituted selection board. Instead, he left this task to the Militia Council, although authority for ‘lesser’ appointments was left in the hands of the divisional and district commanders.53 The two formations would nominally require five brigadier-generals – one for each of the three infantry brigades, one for the divisional artillery, and one to command the mounted brigade. Overall command of the division would be given to an officer chosen by the War Office.

Fully aware of these plans, the Minister of Militia and Defence, then-Colonel The Honourable Sam Hughes, instructed the divisional and district commanders to consider those plans tentative when he initiated his own mobilization plan on 6 August 1914. Bypassing the chain of command, he sent instructions directly to unit commanders in a “...call to arms, like the fiery cross passing through the Highlands of Scotland or the mountains of Ireland in former days.”54 Twenty-five thousand men were to concentrate at Valcartier, Québec, where there existed neither a camp nor a rail line.55 Every detail regarding mobilization fell under the Minister’s scrutiny and control, including command appointments. 

Gwatkin held that senior appointments must rely upon professional criteria, and must not be subject to political patronage. Hughes had no time for a selection process that he believed would take far too long, and, consequently, he made those decisions himself. Faced “...with every squirt of a politician in the country and especially those in camp [who] were trying to arrange things to their own selfish ends,”56 appointments became subject to cronyism, patronage, and little professional consideration. Regional representation was also considered important, exemplified by the composition of the first contingent. Eventually, its three brigades were grouped with units from Ontario (1st Brigade), western Canada (2nd Brigade), and Québec, the Maritimes, and the remainder of Canada (3rd Brigade). Overall, French Canadian desires to form francophone units were largely ignored. 

CWM painting by Orpen

CWM – 19710261-0539 painting by Sir William Orpen

Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie 

Brigade commanders were selected from the three major regions of Canada. In order, they were Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm S. Mercer of Toronto, Lieutenant-Colonel A.W. Currie from Victoria, and Colonel Richard E.W. Turner from Québec City, the latter a Victoria Cross winner from the South African War. All were members of the militia, and all known personally by Sam Hughes. The mobilization of the artillery occurred differently, since the Director of Artillery selected the militia batteries that would supply the personnel, horses, guns, and equipment that constituted the divisional artillery assets. Command of the artillery went to the only Permanent Force officer then given a senior appointment, Lieutenant-Colonel Burstall, at the time the officer administering the Royal Canadian Artillery, and Commandant of the Royal School of Artillery.57 

Although the appointment of a Canadian officer as divisional commander was never seriously pursued, Hughes influenced the final selection. The Acting High Commissioner to Britain, the Honourable George Perley, a figure who would later champion consideration of professional skills in general officer nominations, also became involved. Three suitable Canadian-born officers, then serving in the British Army, were not readily available, and so Hughes suggested three British officers with whom he was familiar from service in the Boer War. They were Lieutenant-General the Earl of Dundonald (one time General Officer Commanding of the Canadian Militia), Major-General Sir Reginald Pole-Carew, and Major General E.A.H. Alderson. Hughes considered the latter best qualified, and, following concurrence by the War Office, Alderson was promoted to lieutenant-general, and appointed to command the Canadian division on 25 September 1914.

A few days after the first contingent left for England, formation of a second overseas contingent of 20,000 personnel was announced. However, lack of adequate winter accommodation and training facilities forced Hughes to apply Gwatkin’s original mobilization plan, and this contingent was raised locally before moving to ports for the voyage to England. Selection of a suitable divisional commander brought Hughes into direct conflict with Lord Kitchener. Upset by the War Office’s assignment of Jack Seely, a British officer, to command the Canadian Cavalry Brigade over what Hughes felt were more suitable Canadian candidates, the Minister was determined that command of the 2nd Division would go to a Canadian. His nomination of the 76-year-old westerner, Colonel Sam Steele, brought immediate protest from the War Office, which questioned both Steele’s competence and his ability to function in such a demanding environment. Perhaps falling into a trap set by Hughes, they argued that ‘very experienced’ generals were needed.58 In September 1914, Hughes had recognized that Steele’s age and a certain diminishment of “...the faculty of thinking and acting rapidly when occasion might demand,”59 made him an unsuitable candidate. Nonetheless, he insisted that Steele could take the division to England, but also agreed that he would not take it into combat in France. Despite being offered a list of unemployed British generals to replace Steele, Hughes already had a “very experienced” general in mind. Working through Prime Minister Robert Borden, he recommended that the commander of the 3rd Brigade in France, Brigadier-General Richard Turner VC, be given the position. Kitchener agreed that a Canadian should receive the appointment, but supported the nomination by Sir John French, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France, of Brigadier-General Arthur Currie as the “most suitable of the three brigadiers.”60 The final decision awaited a visit to England by the Prime Minister, and after several meetings, it was announced on 26 July 1915, that Turner would take command of the 2nd Division, and that when the newly approved Canadian Corps was formed, which Alderson had already been chosen to command, Currie would move to the helm of 1st Division. By virtue of his taking command of the 2nd Canadian Division on 17 August 1915, Major-General R.E.W. Turner became the senior Canadian divisional commander, while Major-General A.W. Currie gained the distinction of being the first Canadian to take a Canadian division into combat. Currie’s division was in the line when the Canadian Corps became operational on 13 September 1915, while two brigades of the 2nd Division came into the line between 19 and 23 September, and its third brigade remained under command of the 1st Division. 

When the corps was formed, Major-General Malcom S. Mercer moved from 1st Brigade to command the corps’ troops, which were a mix of cavalry, mounted, and other elements. Beginning in December 1915, units in England were grouped into the nucleus of another division, and, following the arrival of additional units and personnel serving in France or from Canada, it became the 3rd Canadian Division. When it moved to France in January 1916, the three divisions forming the Canadian Corps were led by the former brigade commanders Hughes had selected in 1914, namely Arthur Currie, Richard Turner, and Malcom Mercer.61 

Hughes had every right to be proud of these appointments. He was personally responsible for the selection of the first Canadian divisional commander, and now officers selected by him commanded all three divisions, leading Hughes to boast to General Byng that, “he had never made a mistake in recommending or refusing an appointment or promotion.”62 His confidence led him to decree, in December 1915, that no major appointment would be made without his approval. His zeal in making the corps completely Canadian was impressive, but he was not without critics. When he proposed to replace British personnel serving in staff positions with Canadians, all three divisional commanders agreed that this plan was foolish. Until trained and experienced Canadians were available, they rejoined, the British officers should stay.63 

Opposition to the Minister’s influence was thus beginning to show, even from those who benefited from his influence. Major-General David Watson, who was selected over the highly regarded commander of the corps artillery, Henry Burstall, to command the 4th Division, held that the fiasco at the St. Eloi craters taught him that the divisional commanders should be able to choose their own subordinate commanders and staff officers.64 Hughes had held up the dispatch of the 4th Division to France until his nominees for the various division and brigade command positions were accepted. This decision, along with others by Hughes, would soon bring his future as Minister into doubt.

Bickering over who should command Canadians overseas exacerbated these problems, and it precluded a smooth nomination process for formation commanders. At one point, there were as many as seven individuals claiming this authority.65 Without a senior authority overseas, the Canadian government was sometimes forced to intervene, such as when the British challenged Brigadier-General Burstall’s nomination to command the corps’ artillery assets. Their claim that Burstall lacked experience brought a sharp retort: “The Canadian Government will, to say the least, be very much put out if other than Canadian Officers are chosen for these posts.”66 

Although the senior Canadian formation commander lacked direct control over appointments, the only arrangement whereby Canadians could control this process came with the creation of the Ministry of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada (OMFC) during the autumn of 1916. Subsequently, the overseas minister was given full authority over the promotion of Canadian officers serving with the CEF by an Order-in-Council dated 19 December 1916. A representative was established at General Headquarters in France to liaise between Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Sir George Perley, and the Canadian Corps commander. In April 1918, the War Office finally recognized OMFC as the single entity with authority over the corps, non-corps units, and the CEF in England.67 However, in June 1918, this Canadian form of representation was replaced by a new organization, the Canadian Section, General Headquarters (GHQ).

Arthur Currie became increasingly dissatisfied with Sir Sam’s appointment of officers without due consideration of professional ability or skill. Faced with the reality that he was “...the one who must assume final responsibility for the efficiency of the [Canadian] Corps,” Currie argued, “there must be no interference with my prerogatives in the matter of recommendation.”68 However, his problems continued even after Sir Sam resigned as Minister. He opposed Garnet Hughes replacing him at the helm of 1st Division, pressing for a more competent and experienced officer, Brigadier-General Sir Archibald “Batty Mac” Macdonell. Nonetheless, at the prompting of the elderly Sir Sam Steele, Prime Minister Borden supported the nomination of the younger Hughes. That said, Sir George Perley, in turn, supported Currie’s choice, and Perley ultimately held sway, reinforcing Currie’s influence. Macdonell took command of 1st Division, Garnet Hughes was kept away from the front in England, and Steele was sent packing for his meddling.69 The outcome was important to furthering the professionalism of the corps, as “... Perley was prepared to offer the army professional independence so that it could fulfil its professional responsibilities.”70

Currie’s efforts to control promotions and appointments within the corps were temporarily withheld from him in June 1917. However, he quickly regained influence following a meeting with Sir Richard Turner, now the GOC of Canadians in England. Henceforth, advice on appointments would be passed by Currie to Major-General Garnet Hughes in Britain, through a Colonel Sims,71 who had played an important bridging role in extending Canadian authority over the corps. Ultimately, any British reluctance to allow Canadians control of their own appointments and promotions was largely lost, due to the Canadian Corps successes at Vimy Ridge and on the Scarpe in 1917.72

While Canadian officers had commanded divisions since 1915, it took two more years before a Canadian would command the corps. The decision to place General Alderson in initial command of the corps had been made by Sir John French, the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, and Lord Kitchener, with some Canadian input. Alderson’s relations with Richard Turner had soured during the fighting at Ypres in 1915, and had worsened when the 2nd Division had occupied the wrong positions during the unsuccessful St. Eloi craters operation. Four British officers serving within the corps were reassigned, and Haig is said to have wanted both Turner and the commander of the 6th Brigade, Brigadier-General Ketchen, removed as well. However, Turner refused to associate himself with or to endorse an adverse report produced by Alderson’s staff on Ketchen, which led Alderson to request Turner’s removal. Hoping to avoid a rift between British and Canadian officers, General [later Field Marshal] Sir Douglas Haig, the British Army commander, interceded, suggesting that the difficult battlefield conditions could have made the error unavoidable. Ultimately, both officers were retained. Haig also realized that Alderson was not suited to holding the Canadian divisions together, and when he met with Sir Max Aitken, the General Representative of Canada at the Front, a plan to remove Alderson and make him Inspector General of Canadian Troops in England was hatched. Canadian authorities left the selection of a successor to Haig, and accordingly, Lieutenant-General The Honourable Sir Julian H.G. Byng took command of the Canadian Corps on 29 May 1916. Haig proved to be an outstanding choice, and during his tenure as commander, the corps’ effectiveness improved dramatically.

The question of a Canadian corps commander was brought up again upon Haig’s departure in 1917. With the 6 June 1917 British announcement that Arthur Currie was “to take command of the Canadian Corps,”73 Canadian officials were caught off guard. As the Prime Minister was occupied with the Military Service Bill, he had given full authority to Sir George Perley to use his own judgment in the selection of a replacement. Sir George now felt the time was right for a Canadian to command the corps. The two senior major-generals, Currie and Turner, were both nominated, and the final decision was left with Field Marshal Haig. Ultimately, Currie was selected, and to avoid any political problems, Turner was promoted with the same seniority, and would remain in London. The Canadian Corps now had a Canadian commander, and an outstanding one at that.

CWM painting by Bastien

Over the Top CWM – 19710261-0056
painting by Lieutenant Alfred Bastien

The 22nd Battalion’s assault on the Drocourt-Quéant Line in August 1918.

Corps and Divisional Commanders

Of the 21 general officers originally cited, one-third eventually held divisional command and the remainder held corps engineer or corps and divisional artillery commands. Only one of them, Sir Arthur Currie, rose to command of the Canadian Corps. Of the seven Canadian divisional commanders, two were commanding infantry battalions, three were in charge of brigades, and one was the divisional artillery commander in 1914. Only two of them were Permanent Force officers. Somewhat ironically, the general officer most associated with the 1st Canadian Division, Archibald C. Macdonell, joined that division only when he assumed command in June 1917. Earlier, he had commanded a cavalry regiment and a brigade within the 3rd Canadian Division. 

Most of these Canadian wartime general officers were in their forties, had accumulated considerable peacetime experience, but possessed limited post-secondary education and little or no staff training. None had served in brigade staff positions, and none had held the key divisional appointment of General Staff Officer First Grade, or Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General.74 Those few that held staff positions during the war were mainly gunners who had served on divisional artillery staffs, although some briefly held other posts, such as was the case with Major-General David Watson, before he took command of the 4th Division. Three of the Canadian divisional commanders were members of the pre-war Permanent Force. Two came from the cavalry, while the third was a gunner. The four militia officers all came from the infantry. What is striking is that, except for one, all had been members of the First Contingent and had held prior brigade or battalion command, while one had commanded the divisional artillery.

As the CEF expanded to four divisions, and the corps and other ancillary troops were formed, an experienced cadre for each was provided from original 1st Canadian Division. General Currie replaced General Alderson when the latter took command of the corps. General Turner was appointed General Officer Commanding 2nd Canadian Division, and two of the brigade commanders, as well as the Brigadier General Royal Artillery, came from the 1st Division, while a British officer was given command of the third brigade. When the 3rd Division joined the corps in France, its commander had been a brigade commander in the 1st Division. The only officer to command the 4th Division, Major-General David Watson, was a 1st Division veteran who had also commanded a brigade in the 2nd Division.

Within the Canadian Corps itself, Canadians ultimately held the positions of General Officer Commanding, GOC Royal Artillery, Chief Engineer, GOC the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, and command of two corps-level artillery formations. Of the two key corps staff appointments, the Brigadier-General General Staff position was held by a British officer for the entire period of the corps’ existence, while a Canadian was appointed as Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster General only in February 1919, several months after the war ended. Therefore, this individual will therefore not form part of this study,75 nor will Major-General Garnet Hughes, who commanded the 5th Division in England, but never saw combat as a divisional commander. As previously mentioned, Major-General Sir Sam Steele experienced a similar fate at the helm of the 2nd Division. In essence then, Canadians commanded the four Canadian divisions for most of their operational lives,76 and Canadians also exclusively led the five divisional artillery formations.

Militia officers held the two most senior positions overseas. Sir Arthur Currie moved successively from brigade to corps command, while Sir Richard Turner commanded a brigade and a division, and in December 1916, Turner became the General Officer Commanding Canadian Forces in the British Isles. 

Thank God the Guns

The Canadian Great War artillery commanders form an interesting group. Unlike divisional or infantry brigade appointments, these men were drawn from the single corps. As commanders of the divisional artillery, they were commanders in their own right, with command, staff, and advisory responsibilities. They supported the formation to which they were assigned, while also having their own chain of command. The artillery commanders at division or corps level advised the corps or division commander on artillery matters, and were also responsible for the administration and technical training of their own units.77 Like the divisional commanders, most were senior officers when the war started, most had little staff training, and they gained combat experience as battery or brigade commanders. Like their other line counterparts, staff appointments were rare, and they were generally restricted to artillery headquarters, the focus remaining upon operations. 

CWM painting by Bastien

CWM 19710261-0085 painting by Lieutenant Alfred Bastien

Canadians Passing in Front of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, during the great victory parade. 

Engineers, Machine Guns and Horses

The Canadian Corps Chief Engineer oversaw a large and important organization. Brigadier-General C.J. Armstrong held a similar position in 1st Canadian Division before moving up to corps. Graduating from RMC in 1893, he served with the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, and on the staff of the Imperial Military Railways. Armstrong joined the militia, concentrating upon his professional civil engineering career, and was a captain serving with the 5th Regiment (Royal Highlanders of Canada) in 1914. 

One Canadian general officer served as General Officer Commanding Machine Gun Corps at corps head-quarters. A former officer of the French Army, Brigadier-General Raymond Brutinel had immigrated to Canada in 1905. In 1914, he was living in Montréal, and he subsequently came to the attention of the government while arranging the purchase of machine guns from the United States for the French Army. His ideas intrigued the Canadian government, and, before long, he had been commissioned a lieutenant-colonel, responsible for forming a motor machine gun unit.78 Brutinel provided some innovative thinking, and the results of these innovations attracted much interest from the Allied armies. 

Brigadier-General R.W. Paterson was the only Canadian to command the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. Except for a few months in early 1918, he commanded a cavalry regiment, the Fort Garry Horse, from 1914 until May 1918, when he was assigned his new command. 


Given the state of affairs in 1914, one might expect that Canadian generalship during the First World War would have been better if those officers had received more comprehensive field training, had obtained more command experience, or if all of them had completed staff training by 1914. Could additional peacetime training have avoided some of the messier operations, such as St. Eloi, thus possibly reducing casualties? If one believes this to be true, then what of Canadian commanders from the Second World War, who had all this training and more, but still did not perform decidedly better. In fairness, the jury is still out on any comparative analysis.

The formation commanders of the Great War came from an environment that offered little professional development, and, when war came, they had limited time to prepare themselves, let alone to train their troops. Despite these limitations, most of them possessed the personal qualities needed to excel. Sir Julian Byng and his brilliant protégé, Sir Arthur Currie, proved instrumental in maximizing innovation by creating an atmosphere that promoted the flow of ideas from all levels. Unlike their successors in the Second World War, they did not have years to prepare for combat. Unlike the leaders of the Second World War, the Great War commanders were more senior in rank when the war started, and they were not purposely moved between line and staff positions. In many ways the ‘fighting generals’ of the Great War proved to be better at the job of commanding troops in combat.

Despite the haphazard selection methods employed by Sir Sam Hughes, interference from the Prime Minister, and occasionally, by the Overseas Ministers, seniority, cronyism, and patronage eventually gave way to competence. Certainly not all appointments were successful, but many were. And the dogged determination of several senior officers to ensure that competence was not compromised was eventually understood by the government’s representatives overseas. 

With respect to the officers who achieved the corps, division, brigade or formation level artillery command positions, combat experience was a crucial factor. More militia officers gained experience at the battalion/artillery brigade level than did the Permanent Force officers. Line tours were only interrupted by courses or leave, and few of these officers held any staff positions. Would it then be correct to conclude that proper training, experience, and exercises are unimportant? Certainly not. What is important is that armies understand that their training system must be challenging, rigorous, and effective. This is a particularly important lesson, as no level of simulation, education, or peacetime experience could replicate the conditions under which these officers could have learned their trade – namely, by active campaigning. 

The First World War brought forward the realization that an effective field force must be matched by a properly constituted national command element, constituted to represent national interests, particularly in coalition, multi-national, or combined operations. Canada fought in varying degrees for each command nomination during the Great War, and would do so again during the Second World War. The appointment of a national representative to safeguard Canadian national interests was quickly applied in 1939, as it was during the Korean conflict and in all modern operational taskings since. 

None of the general officers discussed in this article left any lasting doctrinal impression, nor did they develop a distinct ‘Canadian’ way of war. Rather, they took existing practices and refined them. Through innovation and dogged determination, they recast operations to enhance the combat effectiveness of their formations in order to achieve the mission, while simultaneously reducing casualties and suffering to the greatest extent possible. And that is something for which any leader should strive.

CMJ Logo

John Grodzinski, an armoured officer and member of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), teaches history at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is also a doctoral candidate in RMC’s War Studies program.


  1. Until 1940, ‘Militia’ was the proper designation for the Canadian land force. It consisted of the Permanent Active Militia (PAM), or Regular Force, and the Non-Permanent or Reserve element. After 19 November 1940, it became the ‘Canadian Army,’ with active and reserve elements. 
  2. Bill Rawling, Surviving Trench Warfare; Technology and the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992), p. 240.
  3. By 1918, the Canadian Corps had 768 infantry platoons. See David Love, A Call to Arms; The Organization and Administration of Canada’s Military in World War One (Winnipeg: Bunker to Bunker Books, 1999), p. 12.
  4. It was often noted that Currie’s pear-like shape made him appear awkward and that he did not “look good upon a horse,” but his skill impressed everyone.
  5. Militia Order No. 47, 28 March 1899.
  6. King’s Orders and Regulations for the Canadian Militia, 1904, p. 129, para. 809.
  7. Richard Arthur Preston, Canada’s RMC: A History of the Royal Military College (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969), pp. 116, 167, and 209.
  8. King’s Orders and Regulations for the Canadian Militia, 1917, pp. 127 and 140.
  9. Report of The Militia Council for the Dominion of Canada on the Training of the Militia During the Season of 1909, p. 2.
  10. Steve Harris, Canadian Brass: The Making of a Professional Army, 1860-1939 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), p. 59. Harris lists Eaton as a member of The Royal Canadian Regiment only. Eaton served with this unit between July 1896 and November 1897. See Quarterly Militia List March 1914, p. 66.
  11. Ibid., p. 79.
  12. Militia Order No. 71, 26 March 1907.
  13. Quarterly Militia List March 1914, p. 42.
  14. John A. MacDonald, In Search of Veritable: Training the Canadian Army Staff Officer, 1899-1945, p. 68.
  15. To aid in this, two officers were assigned to the Royal Military College to conduct the courses. Report of The Militia Council for the Dominion of Canada on the Training of the Militia During the Season of 1910, p. 9.
  16. Militia Order No. 347, 11 December 1909, pp. 1-2.
  17. Militia Order Nos. 259 and 260, 18 September 1909, and Report of The Militia Council for the Dominion of Canada on the Training of the Militia During the Season of 1910, p. 9.
  18. Harris, pp. 79-80.
  19. Annual Report of The Militia Council of the Dominion of Canada for the Year Ending December 31, 1906, p. 2.
  20. Report of the Department of Militia and Defence, Year Ending 30 June 1894, p. 1.
  21. Report of the Department of Militia and Defence, Year Ending 31 March 1910, p. 14.
  22. R.C. Fetherstonhaugh, The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1883-1933, Volume 1,(Montréal: Gazette Print, 1936), p. 63.
  23. Militia Order No. 118, 24 June 1899, pp. 2-3.
  24. Militia Orders No. 149, 2 August 1899, and No. 167, 23 August 1899.
  25. Until the Second World War, Imperial forces marked friendly forces with the colour red, and the enemy blue. 
  26. Militia Order No. 167, 23 August 1899, pp. 1-2. It should be noted that this Militia Order is essentially the equivalent of a modern Post-Exercise Report.
  27. Fetherstonhaugh, pp. 57-60.
  28. At this time, artillery batteries were ‘brigaded,’ and not formed into regiments for operations.
  29. Report of The Militia Council for the Dominion of Canada on the Training of the Militia During the Season of 1907, pp. 11-12.
  30. Interim Report of The Militia Council for the Dominion of Canada for the Fiscal Year Ending 31 March 1908, p. 68, para. 18.
  31. Interim Report of The Militia Council for the Dominion of Canada on the Training of the Militia During the Season of 1908, p. 2, para. 16.
  32. In 1906, 20 infantry brigades were established, along with two cavalry brigades. By 1911, this had expanded to 23 infantry brigades and seven cavalry brigades. 
  33. General Order No. 59, 12 April 1911. 
  34. This overview is provided from the Quarterly Militia Lists of 1906, 1910, and 1911.
  35. Doctrinally, infantry brigades were to include four regiments, but in some areas, insufficient units were available to achieve this goal.
  36. At this time, batteries were ‘brigaded,’ and were equivalent to a modern regiment.
  37. Quarterly Militia List March 1914, p. 14.
  38. General Order No. 59, 12 April 1911, p. 6.
  39. Report of the Department of Militia and Defence, Year Ending 1910, pp. 5-6.
  40. John R. Grodzinski, The Brass: A Biographical Study of Canadian Army General Officers, 1905-1966. Unpublished manuscript, p. 14.
  41. Donald Alexander Macdonald (infantry), William Henry Cotton (RCA), Charles William Drury (RCA) and Lawrence Buchan (RCR). 
  42. Francois Louis Lessard of the RCDs.
  43. Harris, p. 100.
  44. The output per year was 13 in 1910, 14 in 1911, 26 in 1912, 48 in 1913, and 23 up to August 1914. See MacDonald, p. 73.
  45. The Quarterly Militia Staff List, September 1914, p. 42.
  46. G.W.L. Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force: The Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War (Ottawa: The Queen’s Printer, 1962), p. 535 and Appendix C. 
  47. The Canadian Mounted Brigade moved to France the following March, and was renamed the Canadian Cavalry Brigade on 23 July 1915. It was commanded for most of its existence by a British officer, Brigadier J.E.B. Seely.
  48. William Shakespeare, Henry V Act 4, Scene 3.
  49. The Critchley family has an interesting First World War experience. Brigadier-General Alfred Cecil Critchley began the war as a troop leader in Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). His half-brother Jack joined the Stratchonas in 1911, and his father enlisted in the same regiment in 1914, while another brother joined the 10th Battalion. Alfred Critchley went on to various positions in brigade and division headquarters, eventually becoming the Commandant of the Canadian Corps School. He also held positions with the Canadian Training School in England and as GSO 2 (Training) in Canadian Corps Headquarters. In March 1918, he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps (the Royal Air Force as of 1 April 1918), promoted to brigadier-general, and placed in charge of all officer candidate training. Jack Critchley went on to command the Strathconas temporarily in 1917 and died as a result of wounds received on 31 March 1917. For a lively account, see AC Critchley, Critch! The Memoirs of Brigadier General A.C. Critchley (London: Hutchinson of London, 1961). Other material has been taken from the service records of A.C. Critchley and J.A. Critchley, courtesy of the National Archives of Canada.
  50. Nicholson, p. 314.
  51. Harris, p. 123.
  52. Technically this group should total 21. The reason for not counting one will be related later.
  53. Harris, pp.98-99, Nicolson pp. 14-15 and Ronald G.Haycock, Sam Hughes: The Public Career of a Controversial Canadian, 1885-1916 (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 1988), pp. 178-179.
  54. Nicholson, p. 18.
  55. Since 1912, a camp had been planned for Valcartier, but by 1914 nothing had been constructed. See Ronald G. Haycock, pp. 181-182.
  56. This quote comes from A.W. Currie, in Ibid., p. 184.
  57. G.W.L. Nicholson, The Gunners of Canada: The History of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, Volume I, (Beauceville: Imprimerie L’Eclaireur, 1967), pp. 195-198.
  58. Desmond Morton. A Peculiar Kind of Politics: Canada’s Overseas Ministry in the First World War, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), p. 38.
  59. Nicholson, CEF, p. 112n.
  60. Ibid., p. 112.
  61. Mercer was killed in action in June 1916 and replaced by L.J. Lipsett, a British officer who was serving in Canada in 1914 and given command of the 8th Battalion and later the 2nd Brigade. He remained in command of the 3rd Division until September 1918, when Currie replaced him with a Canadian officer. Lipsett was then given command of a British division and shortly thereafter, was killed in action.
  62. Harris, p. 117.
  63. Ibid., p. 118.
  64. Ibid.
  65. A.M.J. Hyatt, General Sir Arthur Currie – A Military Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), p. 61.
  66. Morton, p. 46, and Nicholson, CEF, pp. 203-204.
  67. Harris, p. 136.
  68. Morton, p. 124.
  69. Harris, p. 125-126.
  70. Ibid., p. 125.
  71. Morton, p. 124.
  72. Ibid., p. 119.
  73. Nicholson, CEF, p. 284. Apparently the British communiqué was to have read that Major-General Currie would have temporary command of the Corps.
  74. General Staff Officer 1st Grade, a position equivalent to the modern divisional G3, with some of the authority of the Chief of Staff. The Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General was akin to the Assistant Chief of Staff (Administration).
  75. However, Brigadier-General E. de B. Panet had an interesting wartime career, which included serving as GSO 1 and AA & QMG at 4th Canadian Division. He came from the distinguished Panet family.
  76. The 1st Canadian Division was commanded by a British officer until September 1915, and the 3rd Division was led by Major-General L.J. Lipsett, on loan from the British Army, from June 1916 to September 1918.
  77. Love, pp. 154-157.
  78. Ibid., pp. 143-144.