I just finished a very good book on World War I. Of the three main areas of History I like,(Ancient Greece, War of 1812, WW I) World War I fascinates me and not because I am a War Lover. I have fought in a war and believe me I do not Love it. I am however a firm believer that it it is an integral part of our evolution.
The book , “Shock Army of the British Empire (The Canadian Corps in the Last 100 Days of the Great War) by Shane B. Schreiber is an intriguing look at the accomplishments of the Canadians from 8 August 1918 to the armistice on 11 November 1918. If one were an extreme nationalist you could convince yourself that Canada won the war. As I am not an extremist I will say that if we didn’t win it we hastened its’ end. The book focuses on the innovation, training and tactics used by the Canadians under their commander Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur Currie.
When the U.K declared war on Germany in August 1914, Canada along with all the other countries in the Empire were automatically at war also. For a country of just under 8 million the response was overwhelming. By wars end in Nov. 1918, 620,000 young Canadian men and women had joined up. Sixty-six thousand, nine hundred and seventy six never came home. From Neuve Chapelle, March 1915 to Mons November 11 1918 the Canadians proved their mettle and along with the Anzacs (Australian, New Zealand Corps) became the Shock Troops of the British Army. When ever the Imperial High Command had a hard nut to crack the job fell to the Canadians. At 2nd Ypres when poison gas (Chlorine) was first used by the Germans, the French Troops broke but the Canadian 1st Division held by using urine soaked rags as improvised gas masks. The Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras, Canal du Nord, Cambrai, Hindenburg Line, and finally Mons where the last soldier to die in the war was a Canadian at two minutes to eleven a.m on the eleventh of November 1918 when the War ended. At all these battles the Canadian talent for improvisation either won the day or stopped the Germans cold. For to long the accomplishments of Canada in this conflict were ignored or lumped in with the British and not until recently have they really been recognized. I have often heard and read that our American cousins won WW I and perhaps in their minds they did but consider the following taken from the book: Comparison between the Cdn. Corps achievements during the final 100 days and those of the American Army in the Muese-Argonne offensive:
Troops engaged 650,000 105,000
Duration of operation 47 days 100days
Max. distance advanced 34 miles 86 miles
German Div. defeated 46 47
Av. casu. suffered/Ger. Div. defeated 2,170 975
Total Casualties 100,000 45,830
Draw your own conclusions.