First Canadian Army in the North West Europe campaign, 1944-1945, Order of Battle

First Canadian Army in North West Europe, 1944-1945

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205475)

Tanks (Polish, GGFG and Sherbrooke Fusiilers) move into position for attack toward Falaise, between Hubert-Folie and Tilly-la-Campagne, 8 August 1944.

Sherman Crab flail tank in Normandy, 4 July 1944. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205407)

The mine flail consists of a number of heavy chains ending in fist-sized steel balls (flails) that are attached to a horizontal, rapidly rotating rotor mounted on two arms in front of the vehicle. The rotor's rotation makes the flails spin wildly and violently pound the ground. The force of a flail strike above a buried mine mimics the weight of a person or vehicle and causes the mine to detonate, but in a safe manner that does little damage to the flails or the vehicle.

From D-Day on 6 June 1944 to VE Day on 8 May 1945, 4,477 British Commonwealth tanks were destroyed, including 2,712 M4 Sherman tanks, 656 Churchill tanks, 609 Cromwell tanks,433 M3 Stuart light tanks, 39 Cruiser Mk. VIII Challenger tanks, 26 Comet tanks, and 2 M24 Chaffee light tanks. (Steven Zaloga, Armored Champion: The Top Tanks of World War II. Stackpole, 2015)

The First Canadian Army was a field army formation of the Canadian Army in the Second World War in which most Canadian elements serving in Northwest Europe were assigned. It served on the Western Front from July 1944 until May 1945.

The army was formed in early 1942, replacing the existing unnumbered Canadian Corps.  The growing contribution of Canadian forces to serve with the British Army in the United Kingdom necessitated an expansion to two corps. By the end of 1943 Canadian formations consisted of three infantry divisions, two armoured divisions and two independent armoured brigades. The first commander was Lieutenant-General A. G. L. "Andy" McNaughton, who was replaced in 1944 by General H. D. G. "Harry" Crerar. Both had been senior Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery officers in the Canadian Corps in the Great War. Allied formations of other nationalities were added to the First Canadian Army to keep it at full strength.

The First Canadian Army's strength was 177,000 all ranks at the end of 1942. One year later it had grown to 242,000. On 31 May 1944, shortly before the Normandy landings, Canadian troops in Europe numbered 251,000 of which 75,000 had left First Canadian Army to serve on the Italian Front.

In September 1944, the First Canadian Army swept north along the coast of the English Channel liberating the heavily-fortified ports of Boulogne and Calais. At the same time, the British captured the Belgian port of Antwerp, desperately requiring its docking facilities to bring in supplies. However, the Germans occupied both banks of the 70-kilometre long Scheldt River estuary linking Antwerp to the sea. Most of this territory was in the Netherlands. In a month-long campaign beginning 6 October, the Canadians fought in appalling conditions over open, flooded ground to capture the approaches to Antwerp. They lost over 6300 killed or wounded in the process. (Wikipedia)

The France and Germany Star

The North West Europe campaign was a campaign by the British Commonwealth armed forces in North West Europe, including its skies and adjoining waters during the Second World War. The term Western Front has also sometimes been used informally. The battle honour "North West Europe" was awarded to any unit involved in land, sea and air campaigns and operations in, over or near Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom during the Second World War. It includes many more specific campaigns and/or battle honours. British Commonwealth air force units who served over Occupied Europe, between the fall of France and D-Day were awarded the battle honour "Fortress Europe 1940–1944."

The battle honour North West Europe campaign of 1944–1945, was typically awarded to units of the British Second Army and First Canadian Army, as elements of the British 21st Army Group. The campaign started with the landings in Normandy and ended on 4 May 1945 with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery taking the German military surrender of all German forces in the Netherlands, north west Germany and Denmark on Lüneburg Heath, (situated between the cities of Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen).

(First Canadian Army units awarded this Battle Honour are listed on a separate page on this web site)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3208270)

Canadian tank crews removing water-proofing from their M10 Tank Destroyers, with a Centaur forward and off to the right, on the Normandy beachhead, 6 June 1944.  The metalwork items at the bottom of the image are deep wading ducts that were fitted to Shermans and other tanks to allow them to get ashore.  (Philip Moor).  These were 3-inch M10s of the 3rd Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment. They did land on Juno but some were in support of the Royal Marines as they moved East to connect with the British forces on Sword beach. The Marines did have their own Centaur armored vehicles but the M10s seem to have been tasked as anti-tank support.  (Ron Volstad).  The 17 pounder modification for the M10 was not yet available in sufficient numbers so the RCA anti-tank units made do with the US mounted gun.  (Benjamin Moogk)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205311)

Canadian soldiers landing on Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944.

Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205229)

Lieutenant J.A.R. Gregoire leading a patrol past a disabled German halftrack vehicle in the Normandy beachhead, France, 10 June 1944.

Mark Milner's Book: "Stopping the Panzers. The Untold Story of D-Day" is an very interesting NEW analysis of the Canadian contribution to Operation Overlord. In it, he describes in great detail the Allied invasion plan, including the intended dispositions of forces landing at each beach on June 6 and over the next several days. The Canadians were given the role of defending the broad plain lying between Caen and points south, which allied planners anticipated would be the means the Germans used to mount an overwhelming armoured thrust to throw "the little fish (as an SS Commander termed the Allies) back into the sea." As such, they were allotted the highest number of field and antitank artillery of any of the respective landing forces. Mobile artillery was considered essential as German counterattacks were expected to be immediate and fierce. As it happened, much of that artillery was either late or arrived incomplete as the result of beach congestion, high tides and the unforeseen storm surge following gales on June 5. The artillery seen above included M10 mobile antitank guns and Royal Marine Artillery Centaurs (whose mission was to defeat enemy strongpoints along the beach and immediately inland). The intended artillery support took several days to arrive in place and the whole timetable for British forces to capture Caen on June 6 was disrupted...Despite serious setbacks Canadian forces were able to withstand fierce attacks by 12 SS, Panzer Lehr and the 21st Panzer Division but were severely limited by the serious shortage of artillery support in those first several critical days of the invasion.  (John Albert Seim)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524543)

Group of Generals of the 1st Canadian Army. (L.-R.:) seated: H.S. Maczek, Guy Simonds (Chief of Staff, 1942- 1943), H.D.G. Crerar, C. Foulkes, B.M. Hoffmeister; standing: R.H. Keefler, A.B. Matthews, H.W. Foster, R.W. Moncel, S.B. Rawlings, 20 May 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3203474)

Group of Generals of the 1st Canadian Army. (L.-R.:) seated: H.S. Maczek, Guy Simonds (Chief of Staff, 1942- 1943), H.D.G. Crerar, C. Foulkes, B.M. Hoffmeister; standing: R.H. Keefler, A.B. Matthews, H.W. Foster, R.W. Moncel, S.B. Rawlings, 20 May 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA 138509)

Officers of the First Canadian Army, 20 May 1945. Seated H.S. Maczek (GOC 1st Polish Armd Div), E.C. Hudleston (RAF), G.G. Simonds (GOC II Cdn Corps), H.D.G. Crerar (GOC-i-C, 1st Cdn Army), C. Foulkes (GOC I Cdn Corps), B.M. Hoffmeister (GOC 5 Cdn Div), S.B. Rawlins (GOC 49 (WR) Div (Brit)). Standing: W.P. Gilbride, C.C. Mann (COS, 1st Cdn Army), J.F.A. Lister, G. Kitching, R.H. Keefler (GOC 3 Cdn Div), A.B. Matthews (GOC 2 Cdn Div), E.L.M. Burns, H.W. Foster (GOC 1 Cdn Div), R.W. Moncel, H.E. Rodger, H.V.D. Laing.

The First Canadian Army

When the First Canadian Army was formed overseas in 1942, Lieutenant-General McNaughton's aim was to keep Canada's contributions to the British Army together to lead the cross-channel assault on northwest Europe. Two brigades of the 2nd Canadian Division led the ill-fated Dieppe Raid in 1942. Aside from his endeavour, the Army did not see combat until July 1943. In 1943,because the Canadian government wanted Canadian troops to see action immediately, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, and 5th Canadian Armoured Division were detached from the Army for participation in the Italian Campaign.

Early in 1944, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade were also detached to British I Corps to participate in the assault phase of the Normandy landings. II Canadian Corps became operational in Normandy in early July 1944, as the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division landed. The First Canadian Army headquarters did not itself arrive in Normandy until mid-July, becoming operational 23 July 1944, just prior to 4th Canadian Armoured Division arriving on the Continent.

Composition

The First Canadian Army was international in character. The size of Canada's military contribution on its own would likely not have justified the creation of a separate army-level command in North-West Europe, especially over the period when I Canadian Corps was away gaining valuable combat experience in Italy. However, both McNaughton and Crerar, backed up by the Canadian government, were successful in their lobbying for the British Army to create a Canadian-led army enlarged with contributions from other Allied countries. In addition to II Canadian Corps (which included the Canadian formations under command described above), other formations under command included the British I Corps, and the 1st Polish Armoured Division, as well as, at various times, the American 104th Infantry Division (Timberwolf), 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade, Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade and 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade. The First Canadian Army in North-West Europe during the final phases of the war comprised the largest field army ever under the control of a Canadian general. Ration strength of the army ranged from approximately 105,000 to 175,000 Canadian soldiers to anywhere from 200,000 to over 450,000 when including the soldiers from other nations.

Battles

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3227224)

Canadian operations at Falaise, 16-17 August 1944.

The Army proper first went into action in the Battle of Normandy and conducted operations at Falaise (e.g. Operation Totalize, Operation Tractable) and helping close the Falaise pocket. After reaching the Seine, the objective of the first phase of Operation Overlord, the Army moved along the coast towards Belgium, with the Canadian 2nd Division entering Dieppe at the beginning of September. The First Army, under acting command of Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds (from 28 September 1944 to 7 November 1944), fought the critical Battle of the Scheldt along with the supporting Operation Pheasant in October and early November, opening Antwerp for Allied shipping.

The First Canadian Army held a static line along the river Meuse (Maas) from December through February, then launched Operation Veritable in early February. By this point the Army, besides the II Canadian Corps, contained nine British divisions. The Siegfried Line was broken and the Army reached the banks of the Rhine in early March.

In the final weeks of the war in Europe, the First Army cleared the Netherlands of German forces. By this time the First Division and Fifth (Armoured) Division as well as First Armoured Brigade and the 1st Cdn AGRA had returned to the Army during Operation Goldflake and for the first time, both the I Canadian Corps and II Canadian Corps fought under the same Army commander. (Wikipedia)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224836)

II Canadian Corps Headquarters, 15 March 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225552)

Sargeant Walter Crampton digging beside his Lynx scout car in Normandy, 19 July 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4558335)

Operation OVERLORD presented staff officers with an unprecedented challenge, and they planned in excruciating detail the unloading of men. June 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205037)

Sergeant Pete Huffman inspecting the rifle of Private John Thomas aboard LCI(L) 262 of the 2nd Canadian (262nd RN) Flotilla, 6 June 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3205308)

Canadian troops crouch behind concrete wall before going inland, D-Day, 6 June 1944.

The full Army first went into action in the Battle of Normandy and conducted operations at Falaise (e.g. Operation Totalize, Operation Tractable) and helping to close the Falaise pocket.

Operation Totalize was an offensive launched by Allied troops in the First Canadian Army during the later stages of Operation Overlord, from 8 to 9 August 1944. The intention was to break through the German defences south of Caen on the eastern flank of the Allied positions in Normandy and exploit success by driving south, to capture the high ground north of the city of Falaise. The goal was to collapse the German front and cut off the retreat of German forces fighting the Allied armies further west. The battle is considered the inaugural operation of the First Canadian Army, which had been activated on 23 July.

In the early hours of 8 August 1944, II Canadian Corps launched the attack using mechanized infantry. They broke through the German front lines and captured vital positions deep in the German defences. It was intended that two fresh armoured divisions would continue the attack but some hesitancy by these two comparatively inexperienced divisions and German armoured counter-attacks slowed the offensive. Having advanced 9 mi (14 km), the Allies were halted 7 mi (11 km) north of Falaise and forced to prepare a fresh attack. (Wikipedia)

Caen had been an objective of the British forces assaulting Sword Beach on D-Day. The German defences were discovered to be strongest in this sector and most of the German reinforcements sent to Normandy were committed to the defence of the city. Positional warfare ensued for the next six weeks. Several attempts by British and Canadian forces to capture Caen were unsuccessful until 9 July, when all of the city, north of the Orne River, was captured during Operation Charnwood. Between 18 July and 20 July, British forces launched Operation Goodwood to outflank the city to the east and south, while Canadian forces mounted Operation Atlantic to cross the Orne River and clear the remaining portions of the city. Although Operation Goodwood was halted with many tank losses, the two operations secured a bridgehead 6 mi (9.7 km) wide and 3 mi (4.8 km) deep south of the Orne.

The Germans retained their hold on the commanding terrain of the Verrières Ridge 5 mi (8.0 km) south of the city. The British and Canadian attacks launched around Caen (in part to distract the Germans from the western part of the front, where the First United States Army was preparing to break out of the Allied lodgement) had caused the Germans to defend Verrières ridge with some of their strongest and most determined formations, including elements of three SS Panzer divisions of the I SS Panzer Corps.

Within 48 hours of the end of Operation Goodwood, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division launched an attack against the "formidable" German defences on Verrières Ridge. The Canadians suffered over 1,300 casualties and territorial gains were minimal. From 25 July to 27 July, another attempt was made to take the ridge as part of Operation Spring. Poor execution resulted in around 1,500 Canadian casualties. The Battle of Verrières Ridge had claimed upwards of 2,800 Canadian casualties. While the ridge remained in German hands, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division gained a foothold on the ridge between the village of Verrières to St.Martin-de-Fontenay, which would allow the troops to assemble free of German observation while they prepared to launch Totalize.

On 25 July, the American First Army began Operation Cobra, which after the first two days, broke through the German defences south of St Lo. By the end of the third day of the operation, American forces had advanced 15 mi (24 km) south of the Cobra start line at several points. On 30 July, US forces captured Avranches, at the base of the Cotentin peninsula. The German left flank had collapsed and within 24 hours, units of the US Third Army entered Brittany and advanced south and west through open country, almost without opposition. The 1st SS, 9th SS and 116th Panzer divisions were shifted westward from Verrières Ridge to face this new threat.

General Bernard Montgomery (commanding the ground forces in Normandy), wanted an attack on the eastern flank of the front to capture Falaise, intending that such a move would precipitate a general German collapse. The First Canadian Army (Lieutenant General Harry Crerar), held this part of the Allied front. It consisted of the British I Corps, responsible for the extreme eastern flank of the Allied lines and II Canadian Corps (Lieutenant General Guy Simonds) south of Caen. The II Canadian Corps, which was to launch Operation Totalize consisted of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, 51st (Highland) Infantry Division, 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division, 1st Polish Armoured Division, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade and the British 33rd Armoured Brigade.

The German defences on Verrières Ridge remained very strong. The forward infantry positions were well dug-in, with wide fields of fire. The main concentration of one hundred 75 mm and 88 mm anti-tank guns was deployed around the villages of Cramesnil and Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil 3 mi (4.8 km) behind the German forward positions, to halt any breakthrough by tanks along the Caen–Falaise road. The front line and defences in depth were held by the 89th Infantry Division, 85th Infantry Division (recently arrived from Rouen) and the remnants of the 272nd Grenadier Infantry Division (severely depleted by the Canadians in Operation Atlantic). The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend with an attached heavy Tiger tank battalion, with fifty tanks, was in reserve a further 3 mi (4.8 km) back. Some of the infantry were commanded by the German LXXXVI Korps but most of the sector (and the 12th SS Panzer Division) was under the command of the I SS Panzer Corps, which had arrived in the area during Operation Goodwood.

Simonds knew that infantry assaults supported by massed artillery had failed to overcome the German forward lines in Operation Atlantic and Operation Spring. During Operation Goodwood, a bombardment by aircraft of RAF Bomber Command had assisted British tanks to break through the German front but they had then suffered many casualties from intact German defences arrayed in depth beyond the bombing. Infantry had been unable to follow up quickly enough to support the leading tanks or to secure ground behind them (follow-up units were also slowed). To solve the tactical problem presented by the terrain and the deep defences, Simonds proposed a radical solution, the first large attack by mechanized infantry.

Some field artillery regiments in Canadian and British infantry divisions had been temporarily equipped with M7 Priest 105 mm self-propelled guns for the landings. When they were replaced by towed QF 25-pounder gun-howitzers, these vehicles were superfluous to operations. Simonds had the Priests converted into "Kangaroo" armoured personnel carriers which would allow infantry to follow the tanks closely on any terrain.[26] Permission was first requested from the Americans, from whom the M7s had been borrowed, to convert them into APCs.

Simonds made air power fundamental to his plan for breaking through the German defence zones.[28] The preliminary aerial bombardment called for RAF bombers to saturate the German defences on both flanks of a 4 mi (6.4 km)-wide corridor along the axis of the Caen–Falaise road, during the night of 7 August. During the early hours of 8 August, two attacking forces of tanks and armoured personnel carriers would advance along the corridor. West of the road under the 2nd Canadian Division were the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade and 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade. East of the road, under the 51st (Highland) Division were the 154th (Highland) Brigade and the 33rd Armoured Brigade. These two columns would bypass the front-line defenders and capture the main German anti-tank defences around Cramesnil and Saint-Aignan de Cramesnil at dawn.

The second phase would follow immediately. While the remaining four infantry brigades of the 2nd Canadian Division and 51st (Highland) Division cleared up the isolated German forward defences and the 3rd Canadian Division and 49th (West Riding) Division (I Corps) began subsidiary attacks to widen the base of the salient captured in the first phase, the 4th Canadian Armoured Division and 1st Polish Armoured Division would move up the corridor to Cramesnil and prepare to advance further south. To prepare for their attack, bombers of the US Eighth Air Force would bombard the German reserve positions at Hautmesnil. The ultimate objective was the high ground north of Falaise, 15 mi (24 km) beyond the start line.

During the evening of 7 August 1944, the attacking forces formed up in six columns, four vehicles wide, comprising tanks, Kangaroo APCs, half tracks, self-propelled anti-tank guns and Mine flail tanks. At 23:00, Bomber Command commenced the bombardment of German positions along the Caen front. At 23:30, the armoured columns began their advance behind a rolling barrage. Movement was slow at first, many APC drivers became disoriented by the dust caused by the vehicles. Several vehicles became stuck in bomb craters. Simonds had arranged several methods for the columns to maintain direction; some vehicles were fitted with radio direction finders, the artillery fired target-marking shells, Bofors 40 mm guns fired bursts of tracer in the direction of the advance. In spite of all these measures, there was still confusion. Several vehicles collided or were knocked out.

The attack broke through the German defences in several places. By dawn, the attacking columns from the 51st (Highland) Division had reached their intended positions. The infantry dismounted from their Kangaroo APCs within 200 yd (180 m) of their objectives at the villages of Cramensnil and Saint-Aignan de Cramesnil, rapidly over-running the defenders. The columns from the 2nd Canadian Division were delayed by fog and unexpected opposition on their right flank but by noon on 8 August, the Allied forces had captured Verrières Ridge. The novel methods used by Simonds ensured that the attackers suffered only a fraction of the loss which would have been incurred in a normal "dismounted" attack. The Allies were poised to move against Cintheaux, 2 mi (3.2 km) south of their furthest penetration but Simonds ordered a halt, to allow field artillery and the 4th Canadian and 1st Polish armoured divisions to move into position for the second phase of the operation.

Panzergruppe West

SS Brigadeführer (General) Kurt Meyer, commander of the 12th SS Panzer Division, had already ordered infantry from various formations shattered by the bombers and by the armoured attack, to occupy Cintheaux. He also moved forward two battlegroups from his division, consisting of assault guns, infantry and Tiger tanks, positioning them across the Canadian front. Shortly after midday, he ordered these two battlegroups to counter-attack the leading Allied troops. At this point, the Allied offensive plan called for additional bombardment by the Eighth Air Force, before the 4th Canadian Armoured Division and the 1st Polish Armoured Division pushed south towards Falaise on either side of the Caen–Falaise Road.

The counter-attack by the 12th SS Panzer Division failed but placed Meyer's tanks north of the target area that the Eighth Air Force bombarded, ready for the second phase of the Allied attack. Spared the effects of the bombing, the tanks slowed the advance of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, preventing a breakthrough east of the road. West of the road, the German infantry at Cintheaux held up the Canadian armoured formations. Neither division (both on their debut) pressed their attacks as hard as Simonds demanded and laagered (took up defensive positions) while vehicles and troops were supplied and rested when dark fell.

To restore the momentum of the attack, Simonds ordered a column from the 4th Canadian Armoured Division to seize Hill 195, just to the west of the main road, halfway between Cintheaux and Falaise. Worthington Force with B, C and HQ companies of the Algonquin Regiment supporting 52 tanks from the British Columbia Regiment, bumped into the rear of Halfpenny Force fighting the SS in Bretteville-le-Rabet, went round them and lost direction. When dawn broke on 9 August, Worthington Force was 4.5 mi (7.2 km) to the east of Hill 195 at Hill 140, halfway between Estrees-la-Campagne and Mazieres. They held their ground against German armoured counter-attacks during 9 August but suffered many casualties, including most of their tanks. By 17.00 hours what remained of Worthington Force had either been captured or forced to withdraw. Because the column was on Hill 140, the wrong objective, other units sent to reinforce went towards the wrong hill. Eventually, another force captured Hill 195 in a model night attack on 10 August but the Germans had been given time to withdraw and reform a defensive line on the Laison River. By 11 August, the Anglo-Canadian offensive had ended.

The early phases of the assault had been a great success, despite many casualties in the two Allied armoured divisions in their attempt to push towards Falaise. Formations of four divisions of the First Canadian Army held positions on Hill 195, directly north of Falaise. At the same time, Allied forces managed to inflict upwards of 1,500 casualties on the Germans. Major General Rod Keller was removed from his command of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, after having been badly wounded when his headquarters were hit by American bombs. Keller's poor performance in Totalize lost him the confidence of General Crerar and he received no further command positions for the remainder of the war. Simonds and Crerar mounted a follow-up offensive, Operation Tractable, which took place between 14 and 21 August. On 21 August, the Falaise Pocket was closed when Canadian and Polish units made contact with US troops from the south, ending Commonwealth participation in the Battle of Normandy.  (Wikipedia)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4164905)

Heavy smoke blanketing the battlefield from fires caused by bombing, with transports and men taking cover on the Caen-Falaise Road, 8 August 1945.

Operation Tractable was the final attack conducted by Canadian and Polish troops, supported by a British tank brigade, during the Battle of Normandy during the Second World War. The operation was to capture the tactically important French town of Falaise and then the smaller towns of Trun and Chambois. This operation was undertaken by the First Canadian Army with the 1st Polish Armoured Division (Generał brygady Stanisław Maczek) and a British armoured brigade against Army Group B of the Westheer in what became the largest encirclement on the Western Front during the Second World War. Despite a slow start and limited gains north of Falaise, novel tactics by the 1st Polish Armoured Division during the drive for Chambois enabled the Falaise Gap to be partially closed by 19 August 1944, trapping about 150,000 German soldiers in the Falaise Pocket.

Although the Falaise Gap was narrowed to a distance of several hundred metres/yards, as a result of attacks and counter-attacks between battle groups of the 1st Polish Armoured Division and the II SS Panzer Corps on Hill 262 (Mont Ormel) the gap was not closed quickly and thousands of German troops escaped on foot. During two days of nearly continuous fighting, the Polish forces assisted by artillery-fire, managed to hold off counter-attacks by seven German divisions in hand-to-hand fighting. On 21 August, elements of the First Canadian Army relieved the Polish survivors and sealed the Falaise Pocket by linking up with the Third US Army. This led to the surrender and capture of the remaining units of the German 7th Army in the pocket. (Wikipedia)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225658)

Aerial view of the centre of Caen after bombardment, 31July 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3209198)

Canadian troops in Normandy, 23 July 1944.

After reaching the Seine, the objective of the first phase of Operation Overlord, the Army moved along the coast towards Belgium, with the Canadian 2nd Division entering Dieppe at the beginning of September. The First Army, under acting command of Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds (from 28 September 1944 to 7 November 1944), fought the critical Battle of the Scheldt along with the supporting Operation Pheasant in October and early November, opening Antwerp for Allied shipping. (Simonds took over acting command of the Army on occasions in NW Europe when General Crerar was indisposed).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3191582)

Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill overlooking the Rhine River, accompanied by General H.D.G. Crerar, Lieutenant-General G.G. Simonds and Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke on the left and Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery on the right, 4 March 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524440)

View from the top of a cliff overlooking the beach at Scie River, where Lieutenant Colonel Merritt won his Victoria Cross, Dieppe, France, 2 September 1944.

(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J28477 / Göttert / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

German forces in the Ardennes, December1945.

(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J28475 / Pospesch / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

German Sturmgeschütz in the Ardennes, January 1945.

The First Canadian Army held a static line along the river Meuse (Maas) from December through February, then launched Operation Veritable in early February. By this point the Army, besides the II Canadian Corps, contained nine British divisions. The Siegfried Line was broken and the Army reached the banks of the Rhine inearly March.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224989)

3rd Super Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery (RA), supports 1st Canadian Army attack. Front view of a 240-mm Howitzer gun with its 22 foot barrel firing 360 pound shells into the Siegfried defences andon to the Rhine with a range of 2400 yards, 8 February 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3209105)

General D. M. Sutton, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, plotting gun range in a dugout in Normandy, 22 June 1944.

In the final weeks of the war in Europe, the First Army cleared the Netherlands of German forces. By this time the First Division and Fifth (Armoured) Division as well as First Armoured Brigade and the 1st Canadian Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA) had returned to the Army during Operation Goldflake and for the first time, both the I Canadian Corps and II Canadian Corps fought under the same Army commander.

The First Canadian Army was international in character. The size of Canada's military contribution on its own would likely not have justified the creation of a separate army-level command in North West Europe, especially over the period when I Canadian Corps was away gaining valuable combat experience in Italy. However, both McNaughton and Crerar, backed up by the Canadian government, were successful in their lobbying for the British Army to create a Canadian-led army enlarged with contributions from other Allied countries. In addition to II Canadian Corps (which included the Canadian formations under command described above), other formations under command, included the British 1 Corps, and the 1st Polish Armoured Division as well as, at various times, the American 104th Infantry Division (Timberwolf), 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade, Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade and 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade. The First Canadian Army in North West Europe during the final phases of the war comprised the largest field army ever under the control of a Canadian general. Ration strength of the army ranged from approximately 105,000 to 175,000 Canadian soldiers to anywhere from 200,000 to over 450,000 when including the soldiers from other nations. (C.P. Stacy and Wikipedia)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3227960)

General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commander-in-Chief First Canadian Army, with the pilot and groundcrew of his personal aircraft, a Stinson Reliant, at Grave, Netherlands, 11 April 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3623135)

Lieutenant-General Harry Crerar, Commander, 1st Canadian Army, Lieutenant-General Courtney Hodges, Commander of the Allied 12th Army Group and Lieutenant-General Miles Dempsey, Commander of the British 2nd Army, standing behind General Bernard Montgomery, Commander of 21st Army Group, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, and Lieutenant-General Omar Bradley, Commander, commander of the Allied 12th Army Group, 1 March 1945.

General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of SHAEF, opted for a "broad front" strategy in which all the armies under his command advanced abreast. Priorities were given where needed. In August 1944, the invasion of Southern France drove Axis forces out of the south and eventually enabled the front line in North-West Europe to extend from the North Sea to the Swiss border. From north to south, Eisenhower had three army groups operating:

21st Army Group (Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery)

First Canadian Army (General H.D.G. Crerar)

British 2nd Army (General Miles Dempsey)

12th Army Group (General Omar Bradley)

U.S. 1st Army (Lieutenant-General Courtney Hodges)

U.S. 3d Army (Lieutenant-General George S. Patton, Jr.)

6th Army Group (Lieutenant-General General Jacob L. Devers)

U.S. 7th Army (Lieutenant-General Alexander Patch)

French 1st Army  (Général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny)

The U.S. 9th Army arrived on the Continent in September 1944, saw action at Brest, and later joined 21st Army Group. It was re-assigned to the 12th Army Group after the Rhine crossings in March 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3724224)

General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commander-in-Chief First Canadian Army, inspecting Canadian troops.

First Canadian Army Order of Battle in North West Europe, 1944-1945

First Canadian Army Headquarters

"A" Troops

First Canadian Army Civil Affairs Staff

Corps of Military Staff Clerks

(Fredericton Region Museum Collection, Author Photo)

Corps of Military Staff Clerks badge.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3227716)

Main location file room, Canadian Military Headquarters Records Branch, Acton, England, 31 July 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3227714)

Personnel of the Canadian Military Headquarters Records Branch amending machine location cards, Acton, England, 31 July 1945/

CWAC office staff, Ottawa, 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3227715)

Personnel working on the index of battle casualties, Canadian Military Headquarters Records Branch, Acton, England, 5 June 1945.

Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC)

(Stuart Phillips Photo)

Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) badge.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3396484)

Members of the first contingent of the Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) entering Hamm, Germany, 12 June 1945.

The Canadian Women's Army Corps is covered in more detail on a separate page on this web site)

First Canadian Army Defence Battalion - Lorne Scots 

First Canadian Army Defence Battalion - Lorne Scots (until April 1944) badge. They were later replaced by the Royal Montreal Regiment.

The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) mobilized the No. 1 Infantry Base Depot, CASF, for active service on 1 September 1939. This unit was disbanded in England on 11 July 1940, following the formation of the No. 1 Canadian Base Depot on 1 May 1940 as the No. 1 Canadian General Base Depot, CASF. It was re-designated No. 1 Canadian Base Depot, CASF, the same day. It was stationed in Liverpool, England for the convenience of disembarkation and embarkation of Canadian soldiers. The depot was disbanded on 18 July 1944.

On the eve of the fall of France, the War Cabinet resolved to send every available division, including the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, to Brittany in a forlorn hope of stemming the German advance. An advance party from the Depot––Major W.H. Lent, CSM E Ching and Corporal Hiscock–went to establish a base depot at Isse near Chateaubriand. On their arrival, the expeditionary force heard of the surrender of Paris, and started to return. Major Lent's party, who had set foot on French soil on June 12, were back in Barossa Barracks by the 18th.

The regiment subsequently mobilized the 1st Battalion, The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment), CASF for active service on 6 February 1941, to "provide personnel and reinforcements for all 'Defence and Employment' requirements of The Canadian Army. As a result, numerous Lorne Scots defence and employment units served in the Mediterranean, North West Europe and Canada. The overseas battalion was disbanded on 21 February 1947, when its last unit, No. 1 Non- Effective Transit Depot, CASF was disbanded.

At Dieppe, No. 6 Defence Platoon (6th Canadian Infantry Brigade) were brought by LST (Landing Ship Tank), touching down on White Beach at 1605 hours on the 19th. It was split into two parts. CSM Irvine, with Privates Breault[?], Dubois, Rosenberger and Seed waded ashore with Brigadier Southern—all were reported missing. Lieutenant E.J. Norris, with Privates Hancock, Lane, Moor and Keith Spence accompanied the brigade major and signals. Their LST carried three Churchill tanks from the Calgary Regiment and a signal cart. The tanks were to lead off and clear an area to set up the headquarters. Spence was to engage enemy aircraft, but had no tracers so could not observe his fire, and ran out of ammunition since the craft carrying the stores had been hit. Most if his group were dead or wounded, and when a serviceable craft came alongside, he helped Hancock, Moore and Lane on board. As they pulled away, the LST that had brought them in sank. The Germans concentrated their fire on the craft in the water, leaving those on the shore till later, and the group pulled many soldiers of the  from the water. On the return to Newhaven, the platoon commander and Privates Lane and Hancock were sent to hospital.

Corporal Larry Guator, with Privates McDougall and Stephen Prus, were to act as bodyguard for Brigadier Leth (4th Brigade). They landed on Red Beach at 0550. Prus was beside the brigadier when the latter was wounded in the arm, and carried him on a stretcher to the evacuation craft. Ashore, they fought until 1300 hours, when they were ordered to retreat.

The company was disbanded in April 1944, when its duties were taken over by the Royal Montreal Regiment.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524866)

Lieutenant J.E.R. Bingeman and a guard of honour consisting of infantrymen of The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) at a plaque unveiling ceremony outside the Hotel Der Wereld, Wageningen, Netherlands, 9 July 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524567)

An officer serving with the The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) stencilling the regiment's identification number on a jeep, England, ca. 30 May-1 June 1943.

Sicily

The invasion of Sicily in July 1943, by British, Canadian and American forces; the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and the First Canadian Army Tank Brigade were part of General Montgomery's force.

McNaughton had only committed Canadians to Sicily for battle experience, and had not planned to break up the army he had forged for the last great battle in Europe. But Ottawa had agreed, not only to leave the Canadians already there in the campaign, but to augment them with the 5th Armoured Division and First Corps Headquarters.

On 26 October 1943, the Edmund B. Alexander pulled out of Gourock with 4,700 troops, including the Headquarters I Canadian Corps and its Defence Company. The men had thought that they were going on an exercise, and as the ship joined a convoy of 24, they realized they were going into action, although even on the voyage they were unsure of their destination. It was in Sicily, at Augusta, that the Alexander disembarked, the men going ashore in landing craft.  Their record in Italy is documented on a separate page.

Once Italy had been secured, in February 1945 the Canadians began in great secrecy, to move to North West Europe. The I Canadian Corps moved to Marseille, France, then Antwerp, Belgium, and on 15 March took over the Nijmegen area in the Netherlands.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5179610)

Canadians in Holland, south of Nijmgen. Duck leaving flooded road for dry land, 15 February 1945.

The DUKW (colloquially known as Duck) is a six-wheel-drive amphibious modification of a 2+1⁄2-ton CCKW truck.  The name DUKW comes from General Motors Corporation model nomenclature: D, 1942 production series, U, Utility, K, front wheel drive, W, tandem rear axles, both driven.  The DUKW was used for the transportation of goods and troops over land and water. Excelling at approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious warfare attacks, it was intended only to last long enough to meet the demands of combat.  The DUKW proved its seaworthiness by crossing the English Channel.  The DUKW was built around the GMC AFKWX, a cab-over-engine (COE) version of the GMC CCKW six-wheel-drive military truck, with the addition of a watertight hull and a propeller. It was powered by a 269.5 cu in (4 l) GMC Model 270 straight-six engine. A five-speed overdrive transmission drove a transfer case for the propeller, then a two-speed transfer case to drive the axles. The propeller and front axle were selectable from their transfer case. A power take-off on the transmission drove an air-compressor and winch. It weighed 13,000 lb (5,900 kg) empty and operated at 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) on road and 5.5 knots (6.3 mph; 10.2 km/h) on water. It was not an armored vehicle, being plated with sheet steel between 1⁄16 and 1⁄8 inch (1.6 and 3.2 mm) thick to minimize weight. A high-capacity bilge pump system kept it afloat if the thin hull was breached by holes up to 2 inches (51 mm) in diameter. One in four DUKWs mounted a .50-caliber Browning heavy machine gun on a ring mount. The DUKW was the first vehicle to allow the driver to vary the tire pressure from inside the cab. The tires could be fully inflated for hard surfaces such as roads and less inflated for softer surfaces, especially beach sand. 2,000 were supplied to Britain under the Lend-Lease program. used by an invasion force for the first time in the European theater, during the Sicilian invasion, Operation Husky, in the Mediterranean. They were used on the D-Day beaches of Normandy and in the Battle of the Scheldt, Operation Veritable, and Operation Plunder. The Canadian Army operated about 800.  (Wikipedia)

Canadian Infantry Corps, First Canadian Army Defence Battalion - Royal Montreal Regiment.

The regiment mobilized as The Royal Montreal Regiment (Machine Gun), CASF for active service on 1 September 1939. It was redesignated 1st Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment (Machine Gun), CASF on 7 November 1940. The regiment converted to armour on 25 January 1943 and was redesignated the 32nd Reconnaissance Regiment (Royal Montreal Regiment), CAC, CASF. It was reconverted back to infantry on 12 April 1944 and redesignated as the First Army Headquarters Defence Company (Royal Montreal Regiment), CASF, and on 5 April 1945 as the First Canadian Army Headquarters Defence Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment), CASF.

The Royal Montreal Regiment (Machine Gun) embarked for the Great Britain on 7 December 1939. On 28 July 1944, the First Army Headquarters Defence Company (Royal Montreal Regiment), CASF, landed in France as a unit of First Canadian Army Troops, and it continued to serve in North West Europe until the end of the war. The overseas battalion disbanded on 30 September 1945.

On 24 May 1944, a sub-unit of the regiment, designated as the No. 9 Defence and Employment Platoon (Royal Montreal Regiment), CIC, CASF, was mobilized in England. On 27 June 1944, it landed in France as a unit of First Canadian Army Troops, and it continued to serve in North West Europe until the end of the war. This overseas platoon disbanded on 16 October 1945.

On 1 June 1945, a second Active Force component of the regiment mobilized for service in the Pacific theatre of operations as the 6th Canadian Infantry Division Reconnaissance Troop (The Royal Montreal Regiment), CAC, CASF. It was redesignated the 6th Canadian Infantry 2-2-262 Division Reconnaissance Troop (The Royal Montreal Regiment), RCAC, CASF on 2 August 1945. The troop disbanded on 1 November 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4233426)

General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief First Canadian Army, in the turret of a Daimler armoured car, with Lt. Clifford Smith of the Royal Montreal Regiment.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3227968)

General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief First Canadian Army, with personnel of The Royal Montreal Regiment, in front of a Daimler armoured car, Grave, Netherlands, 11 April 1945.

No. 1 Army Headquarters Car Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC)

Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA)

No. 1 Army Group, RCA, 1st Canadian Artillery Group, Royal Artillery (1st Cdn AGRA)

11th Army Field Regiment

1st Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

2nd Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

5th Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

56th Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery (from Mar 1945)

No. 2 Army Group, RCA, 2nd Canadian Artillery Group, Royal Artillery (2nd Cdn AGRA)

19th Army Field Regiment

3rd Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

4th Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

7th Medium Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

10th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery

15th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, (disbanded December 44)

1st Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery

2nd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment (Mobile)

1st Rocket Battery

1st Radar Battery

(For additional photos and detail on the Order of Battle of the First Canadian Army, see separate pages on this web site for the units highlighted here)

"F" Squadron, 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), Canadian Armoured Corps (CAC)

1st Canadian Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment, (1 CAPCR), CAC

No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC)

Nos. 4, 5, 6 & 7 Field Transfusion Units, RCAMC

Nos. 9, 10 & 11 Field Dressing Stations, RCAMC

No. 14 Field Hygiene Section, RCAMC

Units of the Canadian Dental Corps (CDC)

Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC)

Nos. 81 & 82 Artillery Companies, RCASC

Nos. 35 & 36 Army Troops Composite Companies, RCASC

Nos. 41, 45, 47, 63 & 64 Army Transport Companies, RCASC

Nos. 1 & 2 Motor Ambulance Convoys, RCASC

Royal Canadian Engineers

First Canadian Army Troops Engineers

10th Field Park Company

5th, 20th & 23rd Field Companies

2nd Canadian Army Troops Engineers

11th Field Park Company

32nd, 33rd & 34th Field Companies

No. 1 Workshop and Park Company

1st Field (Air) Survey Company

2nd Field Survey Company

3rd Field (Reproduction) Company

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS)

First Army Signals, RCCS

1st Air Support Signals Unit

Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Special Wireless Sections

Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME)

First Army Troops Workshop, RCEME

Canadian Provost Corps (C Pro C)

No. 11 Provost Company, C Pro C

Canadian Forestry Corps

No. 1 Canadian Forestry Group

Canadian Postal Corps

No. 1 Army Base Post Office

I Canadian Corps Troops (April 1942 to November 1943; February 1945 to July 1945)

(attached to the British Eighth Army in Italy from November 1943 to February 1945)

1st Canadian Infantry Division (in Italy from July 1943 to February 1945)

5th Canadian Armoured Division

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade

1st Corps Defence Company (The Lorne Scots)

Other Corps Troops

7th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA)

1st Survey Regiment, RCA

1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Regiment)

9th Field Park Company, Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE)

12th Field Company, RCE

13th Field Company, RCE

14th Field Company, RCE

1st Drilling Company, RCE

I Canadian Corps Headquarters Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS)

No. 31 Corps Troops Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC)

No. 32 Corps Troops Company, RCASC

I Canadian Corps Transport Company, RCASC

No. 1 Motor Ambulance Company, RCASC

No. 1 Headquarters Corps Car Company, RCASC

Nos. 4 & 5 Casualty Clearing Stations, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC)

No. 8 Field Dressing Section, RCAMC

No. 5 Field Hygiene Section, RCAMC

Nos. 1, 3 & 8 Dental Companies, Canadian Dental Corps (CDC)

No. 11 Base Dental Company, CDC

No. 1 Corps and Army Troops Sub-Park, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC)

I Corps Troops Workshop, Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME)

No. 1 Recovery Company, RCEME

No. 3 Provost Company, Canadian Provost Corps (C Pro C)

Attached First Canadian Army Troops

No. 1 Army Group Royal Canadian Artillery

11th Army Field Regiment, 1st Medium Regiment, 2nd Medium Regiment,

5thMedium Regiment, RCA

No. 41 Army Transport Company, RCASC

“H” Squadron, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), Canadian Armoured Corps (CAC)

1st Armoured Car Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons) CAC

Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Field Transfusion Units, RCAMC

Nos. 3 & 16 Field Dressing Stations, RCAMC

Nos. 1, 3, 5, 14, 15 & 28 General Hospitals, RCAMC

No. 1 Convalescent Depot, RCAMC

Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Field Surgical Units, RCAMC

 

1st Canadian Infantry Division

 

Headquarters

1st Canadian Infantry Division Defence and Employment Platoon (Lorne Scots, CAC)

4th Reconnaissance Regiment (4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards)

Royal Canadian Artillery

1st Field Regiment, RCHA, 2nd Field Regiment, 3rd Field Regiment

1st Anti-Tank Regiment, 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

12th Canadian Meteorological Section

Royal Canadian Infantry Corps

The Saskatoon Light Infantry (MG) - Machine gun battalion

1st Canadian Infantry Brigade

The Royal Canadian Regiment

The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment

48th Highlanders of Canada

1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade

Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

The Loyal Edmonton Regiment

2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

3rdCanadian Infantry Brigade

Royal 22e Régiment

The Carleton and York Regiment

The West Nova  Scotia Regiment

3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade joined in 1943.

11thArmoured Regiment (The Ontario Regiment)

12thArmoured Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment)

14thArmoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment)

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS)

1st Canadian Divisional Signals

Royal Canadian Engineers

1st Canadian Field Company

3rd Canadian Field Company

4th Canadian Field Company

2nd Canadian Field Park Company

1st Canadian Bridging Platoon

Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC)

1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Company

2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade Company

3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade Company

1st Canadian Infantry Divisional Troops Company

No. 83 Company– originally part of 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, joined in 1943.

Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC)

4th Canadian Field Ambulance

5th Canadian Field Ambulance

9th Canadian Field Ambulance

2nd Canadian Field Hygiene Section

No. 2 Light Field Ambulance – joined in 1943.

Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC)

1st Canadian Infantry Divisional Ordnance Field  Park

1st Canadian Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit

No. 1 Army Tank Brigade Sub-Park–joined in 1943.

1st Tank Brigade Workshop – originally apart of 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, joined in 1943.

Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME)

1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Workshop

2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade Workshop

3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade Workshop

No. 1 Infantry Troops Workshop

Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps (RCAPC)

1st Canadian Field Cash Office

Royal Canadian Postal Corps

1st Canadian Infantry Division Postal Unit

Royal Canadian Dental Corps

1st Canadian Dental Company

Canadian Provost Corps

No. 1 Provost Company

Note: In July 1944, the divisional reconnaissance battalion, the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, converted to infantry and transferred to 12th Infantry Brigade of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, to be replaced by The Royal Canadian Dragoons.  The Princess Louise returned to its original mechanized role in Northwest Europe in March 1945, and The Royal Canadian Dragoons became the armoured car regiment of I Canadian Corps.

 

5th Canadian Armoured Division

 

5th Canadian Armoured Brigade

2nd Armoured Regiment (Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians)

5th Armoured Regiment (8th Princess Louise’s (New Brunswick)Hussars)

9th Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Dragoons)

The Westminster Regiment (Motor)

11th Canadian Infantry Brigade

11th Independent Machine Gun Company

The Perth Regiment

The Cape Breton Highlanders

The Irish Regiment of Canada

3rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The Governor General’s Horse Guards)

11th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

Other Units

17th Field Regiment, RCA

8th Field Regiment (Self-Propelled), RCA

4thAnti-Tank Regiment, RCA

5th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA

G Squadron, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), (CAC)

1 Canadian Field Squadron, RCE

10 Canadian Field Squadron, RCE

4 Canadian Field Park Squadron, RCE

5th Canadian Armoured Divisional Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS)

No. 5 Provost Company, Canadian Provost Corps

 

1st Canadian Armoured Brigade

11th Armoured Regiment (The Ontario Regiment)

12th Armoured Regiment (Three Rivers Regiment)

14th Armoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment)

A & B Squadrons, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment)

II Canadian Corps Troops

2nd Canadian Infantry Division

3rd Canadian Infantry Division

4th Canadian Armoured Division

1st Polish Armoured Division, August 1944 to May 1945

15th (Scottish)Infantry Division, January to March, 1945

51st (Highland) Infantry Division, August 1944

2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

33rd Armoured Brigade, August 1944, Operation TOTALIZE

1st Belgian Infantry Brigade, April 1945

Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade, August 1944

1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade, October-November 1944, Siege of Dunkirk

 

II Canadian Corps Defence Company (Lorne Scots)

II Canadian Corps Defence Company (The Prince Edward Island Light Horse)

6th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA)

2nd Survey Regiment, RCA

 

8th Field Park Company, Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE)

29th, 30th& 31st Field Companies, RCE

2nd Drilling Company, RCE

 

II Canadian Corps Headquarters Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

 

No. 2 Corps Troops Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC)

II Canadian Corps Transport Company, RCASC

Nos. 33 & 34 Transport Companies, RCASC

No. 2 Motor Ambulance Company, RCASC

No. 2 Headquarters Corps Car Company, RCASC

 

Nos. 2 & 3 Casualty Clearing Stations, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC)

No. 6 Field Dressing Section, RCAMC

No. 8 Field Hygiene Section, RCAMC

Dental Companies, Canadian Dental Corps (CDC)

No. 12 Base Dental Company, CDC

 

No. 2 Corps and Army Troops Sub-Park, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC)

 

II Corps Troops Workshop, Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME)

Recovery Companies, RCEME

No. 13 Provost Company, Canadian Provost Corps (C Pro C)

 

Attached First Canadian Army Troops

No. 2 Army Group Royal Canadian Artillery

19th Army Field Regiment, RCA

3rd Medium Regiment, RCA

4th Medium Regiment, RCA

7th Medium Regiment, RCA

“E” Squadron, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), Canadian Armoured Corps

 

2nd Canadian Infantry Division

 

4th Canadian Infantry Brigade

           The Royal Regiment of Canada

           The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment)

           The Essex Scottish Regiment

4th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

5th Canadian Infantry Brigade

The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada

Le Régiment de Maisonneuve

The Calgary Highlanders

5thInfantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

6th Canadian Infantry Brigade

           The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada

           The South Saskatchewan Regiment

           Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal

           6th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

Support units

The Toronto Scottish Regiment (machine gun)

8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars) (8 Recce)

Royal Canadian Artillery

Headquarters

4th Field Regiment, 2nd (Ottawa) Field Battery, 14th (Midland) Field Battery, 26th (Lambton) Field Battery, 5th Field Regiment, 5th (Westmount) Field Battery, 28th (Newcastle) Field Battery, 73rd Field Battery, 6th Field Regiment, 13th (Winnipeg) Field Battery, 21st Field Battery, 91st Field Battery.

2nd Anti-Tank Regiment, 18th Anti-Tank Battery, 20th Anti-Tank Battery, 23rd Anti-Tank Battery, 108th Anti-Tank Battery, 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 16th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, 17th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, 38th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery.

Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers

Headquarters

1st Field Park Company, 2nd Field Company, 7th Field Company, 11thField Company, one bridging platoon.

Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

2nd Canadian Divisional Signals

Royal Canadian Army Service Corps

Headquarters

4th Infantry Brigade Company, 5th Infantry Brigade Company, 6th Infantry Brigade Company, 2nd Infantry Divisional Troops Company.

Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

No. 10 Field Ambulance, No. 11 Field Ambulance, No. 18 Field Ambulance, 13th Canadian Field Hygiene Section, 4th Canadian Field Dressing Station, 21st Canadian Field Dressing Station.

Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps

No. 2 Infantry Division Ordnance  Field Park.

Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Headquarters

4th Infantry Brigade Workshop, 5th Infantry Brigade Workshop, 6thInfantry Brigade Workshop, one LAA workshop.

Eleven light aid detachments.

Canadian Provost Corps

No. 2 Provost Company

 

3rd Canadian Infantry Division

 

7th Canadian Infantry Brigade

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

The Regina Rifle Regiment

1st Battalion The Canadian Scottish Regiment

7 Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

8th Canadian Infantry Brigade

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada

Le Régiment de la Chaudière

The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

8th Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

9th Canadian Infantry Brigade

The Highland Light Infantry of Canada

The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders

The North Nova Scotia Highlanders

9th Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

Other units

7th Reconnaissance Regiment (17th Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars)

The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Machine Gun)

12th Field Artillery Regiment

13th Field Artillery Regiment

14th Field Artillery Regiment

3rd Anti-Tank Regiment

4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

6th Field Company RCE

16th Field Company RCE

3rdCanadian Divisional Signals, R.C.  Sigs

No. 3 Defence and Employment Platoon (Lorne Scots)

No. 4 Canadian Provost Company, Canadian Provost Corps

 

4th CanadianArmoured Division

 

4th Canadian Armoured Brigade

21st Armoured Regiment (The Governor General’s Foot Guards)

22nd Armoured Regiment (The Canadian Grenadier Guards)

28th Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Regiment)

The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor)

10th Canadian Infantry Brigade

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment

The Algonquin Regiment

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s)

10th Canadian Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

Other units

29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment)

D Squadron, 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), (CAC)

15th Field Regiment, RCA

23rd Field Regiment, RCA

5th Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA

8th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA

4th Canadian Armoured Divisional Signals, RCCS

No. 4 Defence and Employment Platoon (Lorne Scots)

12th Light Field Ambulance, RCAMC

No. 8 Provost Company, Canadian Provost Corps

 

Polish 1st Armoured Division

 

10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade

1st Polish Armoured Regiment

2nd Polish Armoured Regiment

24th Polish Lancers Regiment (Armoured)

10th Polish Dragoons Regiment

3rd Polish Infantry Brigade

1st Polish Highland Battalion

8th Polish Rifle Battalion

9th Polish Rifle Battalion

1st Polish Independent HMG Squadron

Divisional Artillery

1st Polish Motorized Artillery Regiment

2nd Polish Motorized Artillery Regiment

1st Polish Anti-Tank Regiment (formed in 1945 from smaller units)

1st Polish Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

Other Units

10th Polish Mounted Rifle Regiment ((armoured reconnaissance equipped with Cromwell tanks)

HQ, Military Police, Engineers, Signals, administration, military court, chaplaincy, reserve squadrons, medical services.

 

2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

 

6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars)

10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse)

27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment)

C Squadron, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment)

 

15th Scottish Infantry Division (January to March 1945)

 

44th Infantry Brigade

8th Royal Scots

6th Royal Scots Fusiliers

6th King’s Own Scottish Borderers

46th Infantry Brigade

9th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

2nd GlasgowHighlanders

7thSeaforth Highlanders

227th Infantry Brigade

10th Highland Light Infantry

2nd Gordon Highlanders

2ndArgyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Supporting units

102nd (Northumberland Hussars) Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery – 1944–45

1st Middlesex (Machine Gun).

15th Scottish Reconnaissance Regiment 1943–1946

1st Commando Brigade (19 April 1945 to the end of the Second World War)

British and Allied Formations Under Command First Canadian Army, (5 May 1945)

I British Corps (1 August 1944 to 1 April 1945)

6th Airborne Division (to 3 September 1944), including 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion

1st Belgian Infantry Brigade (10 August 1944 to 10 September 1944)

49th (West Riding) Infantry Division

51st (Highland) Infantry Division (to 19 December 1944)

33rd Armoured Brigade (to September 1944)

104th Infantry Division (United States) (mid October to early November, 1944)

XXX British Corps (January to March 1945 for Operation Veritable)

Guards Armoured Division

43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division

50th(Northumbrian) Infantry Division

52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division

53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division

elements of 79th Armoured Division

4th Armoured Brigade

6th Guards Armoured Brigade

8th Armoured Brigade

34th Armoured Brigade

Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade (Princess Irene’s)

I Motorized Independent Infantry Company

II Motorized Independent Infantry Company

III Motorized Independent Infantry Company

Reconnaissance Company (Disbanded 31 March 1945)

One Artillery Battery (six 25-pounders)

Brigade Signals

Brigade Maintenance

During the Second World War the Royal Netherlands Motorized Infantry Brigade was a military unit initially formed from approximately 1,500 Dutch troops, including a small group guarding German POWs, who arrived in the United Kingdom in May 1940 following the collapse of the Netherlands.  Elements of this force became the nucleus of what was originally called the “Dutch Legion.” Although augmented by conscription among overseas citizens from Canada, the United States, the Middle East, Dutch Antilles, Argentina, Dutch Guiana and South Africa; the Dutch force grew very slowly as troops were detached for other duties i.e.  The Commando’s, the Navy etc.  On 11 February 1941 by approval of Queen Wilhelmina the Dutch Legion gained a new name, the Princess Irene Brigade (P.I.B).  On 6 August 1944the first troops of the P.I.B landed at Graye-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.  Later the main force landed and the P.I.B. served under the First Canadian Army until it moved forward with the British 2nd Army.  (Wikipedia)

Air Observation units

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225660)

Artillery Observation aircraft of RAF Air Observation Squadron 661 being dug in at a forward air field. It is being covered with camouflage netting, Normandy, 31 July 1944.

No. 661 Squadron was a Royal Air Force Air Observation Post squadron associated with the First Canadian Army and later part of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. Numbers 651 to 663 Squadrons of the RAF were Air Observation Post units working closely with Army units in artillery spotting and liaison. A further three of these squadrons, Nos 664, 665 and 666, were manned with Canadian personnel. Their duties and squadron numbers were transferred to the Army with the formation of the Army Air Corps on 1 September 1957.

No. 661 Squadron was formed at RAF Old Sarum on 31 August 1943 with the Auster III and in March 1944 the Auster IV. The squadron role was to support the First Canadian Army and in August 1944 it moved to France. Fighting in the break-out from Normandy it followed the Canadians across the low countries and into Germany. The squadron disbanded at Ghent, Belgium on 31 October 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3226177)

Canadian Infantry and Royal Air Force personnel talking to French civilians and gendarme, 10 July 1944.

Books for further information

Bercuson, David (2004) [1996]. Maple Leaf Against the Axis. Red Deer Press. ISBN 0-88995-305-8.

Cawthorne, Nigel (2005). Victory in World War II. Arcturus. ISBN 1-84193-351-1.

Copp, Terry (2004) [2003]. Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-3780-0.

Delaforce, Patrick (2003) [1994]. The Polar Bears: From Normandy to the Relief of Holland with the 49th Division. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-3194-9.

D'Este, Carlo (2004) [1983]. Decision in Normandy: The Real Story of Montgomery and the Allied Campaign. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-101761-9.

Hart, Stephen (2004). Road to Falaise. Battle Zone Normandy. Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-3016-0.

Reid, Brian (2005). No Holding Back. London: Robin Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-40-0.

Reynolds, Michael (2001) [1997]. Steel Inferno: I SS Panzer Corps in Normandy. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-1-885119-44-5.

Roy, Reginald (1984). 1944 – The Canadians in Normandy. Macmillan of Canada. ISBN 0-7715-9796-7.

Stacey, C. P.; Bond, C. C. J. (1960). The Victory Campaign: The operations in North-West Europe 1944–1945 (PDF). Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. Vol. III. The Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationery Ottawa. OCLC 606015967. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2017.

Trew, Simon; Badsey, Stephen (2004). Battle for Caen. Battle Zone Normandy. Cheltenham: The History Press. ISBN 0-7509-3010-1.

Van der Vat, Dan (2003). D-Day; The Greatest Invasion, A People's History. Madison Press. ISBN 1-55192-586-9.

Wilmot, Chester (1997) [1952]. The Struggle For Europe. Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 1-85326-677-9.

Zuehlke, Mark (2001). The Canadian Military Atlas: Canada's Battlefields from the French and Indian Wars to Kosovo. Stoddart. ISBN 978-0-7737-3289-6.