Apart from the Canadian Corps, the CEF included the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, also serving in France, the Canadian Railway Troops, which in addition to working on the Western Front provided a bridging unit for the Middle East, the Canadian Forestry Corps, which cut timber in Britain and France, and special units which operated in the Caspian area and in northern Russia and eastern Siberia.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force was maintained by voluntary enlistment until the MILITARY SERVICE ACT of August 1917 introduced conscription. In total 619 636 officers and men served in the CEF, of whom 142 588 were enlisted under the Military Service Act; 424 589 served overseas. The peak strength of the CEF at any one point was 388 038 all ranks in July 1918. Total fatal casualties from all causes 1914-20 were 59 544 all ranks. (This figure does not include Canadians who died with the RFC, RNAS, RAF or in other Allied forces.)
During the war Canadian authority over the Canadian Expeditionary Force was steadily strengthened. In the beginning the relationship to the British military authorities was vague. After the Canadian MINISTRY OF OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES was set up in London in 1916, the force's national nature was fully established. Canadian training in England became entirely a Canadian responsibility.
In 1917, for the first time, a Canadian officer, Sir Arthur CURRIE, took command of the Canadian Corps. In 1918 it was formally recognized that while the direction of operations in the field remained the province of the British commander-in-chief, the internal organization and administration of the Canadian force were matters for Canadian authorities. By the end of the war the CEF, which in 1914 had been thought of as a colonial contingent serving under the British Army Act, had become in effect a Canadian national army.
Author C.P. STACEY Revised: NORMAN HILLMER
Desmond Morton, When Your Number's Up: The Canadian Soldier in the First World War (1993); G.W.L. Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919 (1964); Bill Rawling, Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps 1914-1918 (1992).
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Battle of Passchendaele
This site provides links to a detailed education guide that invites students to discover how the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele became a defining event in Canadian history. Activities focus on the analysis of vital primary sources, multimedia, and other resources. Associated with the the major Canadian feature film "Passchendaele." From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Library and Archives Canada: Military and Peacekeeping
Check out the online exhibits about the history of Canadian military and peacekeeping operations featured at the website for Library and Archives Canada. View paintings by Canada's great war artists, gripping photographs of war on the frontlines, war diaries and stories, multimedia, and much more.
Canadian Forces: Glossary
A glossary of military terminology used in the Canadian Forces. From the forces.ca website.
From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History
An extensive online bibliography concerning Canadian military history. From Library and Archives Canada.
For King and Empire: Canada's Soldiers in the Great War
An online guide to the “For King and Empire” video documentary series. Features detailed day-by-day accounts of military battles, profiles of individual soldiers, a glossary of weapons and artillery, and much more. From Breakthrough Films and History Television.
Sir Robert Laird Borden
This biography of Sir Robert Laird Borden includes interesting details about Canada's role in the First World War and related issues. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
This site features a digitized copy of the Attestation Paper which James Croak signed when he joined the Canadian military. Click on the link "Soldiers of the First World War - CEF" to view related documents in the archives. From Library and Archives Canada.
Sir Samuel Hughes
A biography of Sir Samuel Hughes, teacher, militia officer, newspaper proprietor, and politician. Offers interesting details about government policies concerning Canada's involvement in the First World War. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer
This article chronicles maneuvers of Canadian forces under the command of Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer, the highest ranking Canadian officer killed in the First World War by friendly fire. Includes images of battlefields painted by Canadian artists. From the Canadian Military Journal.
Sir Arthur Currie Being Decorated by General Orth
A brief 1918 vintage film clip depicting Lt.-Gen Sir Arthur Currie and other officers being decorated by General Orth in France. From the "Images of a Forgotten War" at the National Film Board of Canada website.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...