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The conditions in France did not lend themselves to the easy movement of troops, but the Canadian Troops on the Lines of Communication were practically all transferred to England by the end of February, 1919. During the period of the evacuation of Units on the Lines of Communication, the Canadian Section has also been responsible for co-operation with the Canadian Corps on demobilisation of the Units of the Canadian Corps. All this necessitated increases in the Establishment and powers of the Section, which were duly authorised in December, 1918. Subsequently, Lieut.-General Sir Arthur W. Currie, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., was made responsible for the demobilisation of all troops in France, and, in addition to its other duties, the Section became his Staff for the purpose of demobilisation, in so far as general arrangements and the movement of troops were concerned.

The following chart indicates the functions of the Canadian Section in relation to the Ministry and the Canadian formations in the Field.


–  –  –



(a) Segregation, Camps

(b) Infantry Training

(c) Cavalry Training

(d) Artillery Training

(e) Machine Gun Training

(f) Engineer Training

g) Engineer Signals

(h) Canadian Army Medical Corps




(a) Canadian Instructors' Pool

(b) Canadian Trench Warfare School

(c) Canadian School of Musketry

(d) Canadian Gymnastic Staff











Up to the date of the Armistice, the chief functions of the General Staff of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada in England were the organization and direction of all branches of the Service in the British Isles, and the training of the personnel for their duties in the field.

It is of interest to record that prior to the beginning of 1917 there was no purely Canadian organization for the training, of Canadian Forces in England. The training of such Canadian troops as were then in England was directed by the staffs of the Imperial Command in which the troops happened to be. stationed.

It was in December, 1916, that it was pointed out to the Imperial Authorities that it would be a far more satisfactory arrangement if the Canadian Authorities in England assumed. the entire responsibility for the training of their own reinforcements. To this suggestion the Imperial Authorities agreed, and the present General Staff organization (now under the direction of Lt.-General Sir R. E. W. Turner, V.C.) was thereupon created. It has directed and supervised the whole of the work since that time, the personnel of the Canadian. General Staff being entirely drawn from the Canadian Forces.


Early in the history of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada it was realised that the conditions under which training was carried out in Canada made it difficult for full advantage to be taken of the time allotted for training there. Climatic conditions, harvest leave, and the proximity of the men to. their homes, all militated against obtaining the essential. standard of efficiency within the requisite period. Urgent representations were therefore made that troops should be despatched Overseas as soon as possible after enlistment, in order that their training might be carried out undisturbed in England.

This system was then adopted; and thereafter, to ensure the best method of training recruits and securing for their 10 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

units in the Field the reinforcements they required, the Canadian Military Forces in the British Isles were organised into Reserve Units corresponding to the arm of the Service they were designed to reinforce.

For the Infantry, the Reserve Units were constituted as Battalions ;

for the Cavalry, the Reserve Unit was a Regiment ; while the other arms of the Service were reinforced from special Depots.

In each case these reserve units first received the recruit from the Segregation Camp, then trained him, and eventually despatched him to the Unit in the Field for which he had specially qualified.

Reinforcement for the Infantry was carried out as far as possible on a Territorial basis, i.e., a recruit enlisted in any particular part of Canada was trained in a Reserve Unit originating in that part of Canada, and subsequently served in the Field in a Unit with similar associations.

For the other arms of the Service recruits were mainly selected on account of their physical or mental suitability, or because their training and experience in civil life qualified them for some particular type of service.

An adequate supply of trained reinforcements for many special branches entailed the maintenance of numerous establishments in addition to those mentioned above, the provision of special schools and, in some cases, the utilisation of Imperial Schools. A brief summary of the whole system of training recruits in England is given in detail as

follows :

(a) Segregation Camps.—Although under the new system the recruit arrived in England with practically no military training, it was impossible to despatch him forthwith to his Reserve Unit. This was due to the fact that experience in the past showed that the placing of troops newly arrived from Canada in established camps, frequently introduced infectious diseases among troops ready for draft. This, with the resultant period of quarantine, had at times seriously affected the, reinforcing power of the Reserve Units.

The recruit, therefore, had first to spend a period determined by the Medical Authorities (normally 28 days) in a Segregation Camp. This system practically eliminated infectious epidemics in the training camps, while it did not interfere with the progress,of the recruit, as the whole of his preliminary training was carried out while he was in segregation. The period in the Segregation General Staff. 11 Camp was used to establish the man's health and to instil in him the essentials of smartness and military discipline, objects which were attained by concentration on physical training, close order drill and athletics. Thus, when the time came for a man to join his Reserve Unit, he was able at once to take his place in the ranks and proceed with the more technical details of his training.

The first Segregation Camp was opened at Frensham Pond, a spot about equi-distant from Witley and Bramshott, in the Spring of 1918.

The great influx of troops from Canada in that year, however, necessitated the opening of a second camp at Bourley Wood. These camps, being tented, were not suited for winter occupation and in the autumn they were closed, after a large hutted Camp had been secured at Rhyl. This was in reality a more suitable spot, being in close proximity to Liverpool, where the great majority of Canadian troops were disembarked. The same reason marked the camp for use in the future when the cessation of hostilities would demand concentration camps near the principal port of embarkation for home.

(b) Infantry Training.—During his 14 weeks of training the Infantryman was required to become proficient in numerous subjects.

Among them were : Musketry, Hand Grenades, Rifle Grenades, Bayonet Fighting, Anti-Gas Precautions, Entrenching-including Revetting, Draining and the construction of dug-outs-construction of barbed wire entanglements and Lewis Gunnery. Experience had shown 'that a large percentage of Infantrymen should be familiar in the use of the Lewis Gun, and latterly 50 per cent. of the reinforcements proceeding to France were required to qualify in the use of this weapon.

When the recruit had become efficient in each of the separate branches of training he was advanced to the co-ordination of the various subjects. To this end, before proceeding to France, the Infantryman was trained in attack practices, comprising all phases of attack in the field, from the formation of the line in which he goes forward with the advance under cover of fire to the assault on the trenches, to the final consolidation of the captured position.

No man was permitted to proceed to France until he had passed adequate tests, and when he was embarked as a reinforcement he carried with him, in his Pay-Book, a complete summary of his training, so that the Officer under whom he was destined to serve in the field was able to place him where his abilities could be used to the best advantage. In addition to 12 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

fighting troops it, was, of course, necessary to furnish such details as cooks, stretcher bearers, transport drivers, clerks and. signallers, for all of whom special training had to be provided.

Signalling was of particular importance and the Canadian School of Signalling was established at Seaford Camp to provide Instructors for Infantry Battalions. It was opened in January, 1917, and was closed immediately after the signing of the Armistice. During the period of its existence 1,550 Officers and 1,930 Other Ranks qualified at its courses.

(c) Cavalry Training.—The training of reinforcements for the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and the Canadian Regiment of Light Horse was carried out by,the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment, which was stationed at Shorncliffe until the autumn of 1918, when it was moved to Bordon Camp in Hampshire. Owing to the conditions of warfare, the Cavalry had frequently been called upon to undertake the duties of Infantry, and it was therefore necessary that all Cavalrymen should be first given a condensed course of training similar to that undergone by the Infantry soldier. The Cavalryman, however, was of course called on to carry out his mounted training and instruction in the Hotchkiss Machine Gun as well.

These varied subjects were covered in a 16 weeks' course as. the adaptability of the Canadian recruit made it possible to turn out adequate Cavalry reinforcements in this limited period.

(d) Artillery Training.—The Canadian Reserve Artillery, situated until the Autumn of 1918 at Witley, when it was moved to Bordon, was one of the largest and most important of the Canadian Training units in England. It provided reinforcements for the Royal Horse Artillery, Field Artillery, Siege Artillery, Heavy Artillery, Anti-Aircraft Artillery, together with Signallers fob Artillery Units and Formations.

The Canadian Reserve Artillery was organized into a Reserve Brigade for the Field Artillery, and into a Composite Brigade to supply reinforcements for the other branches of this Arm of the Service. The actual instruction of recruits was carried out in the Canadian School of Gunnery, which was provided with wings responsible for gunnery, riding and driving, musketry,. anti-gas measures, signalling and physical training.

Apart from the Infantry training, which it was necessary to give all recruits, it took from five to six weeks to turn out an efficient gunner or driver, and about two weeks to qualify a man as a signaller.

General Staff. 13 (e) Machine Gun Training.—The increased arming of Infantry Battalions with the Lewis Gun and the development of the Vickers or heavy Machine Gun, with a resultant change in tactics, necessitated the creation of the Machine Gun Corps, and the Canadian Machine Gun Corps was specially established to meet the needs of the Canadian Forces in the Field.

The personnel was trained at the Canadian Machine Gun Depot which was established at Seaford Camp, where there was excellent accommodation and suitable country for training in manoeuvres, the latter being a highly necessary consideration. The same Depot also furnished Instructors for the Infantry, Cavalry and Motor Branches of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, which, since its creation, has played a most important part in the operations of the Canadian Corps.

(f) Engineer Training.—The importance of efficient Engineer Units in the field cannot be over-estimated. The greater the knowledge and skill of their personnel the more vital their value to the fighting troops.

Skilled workmen are essential, and carpenters, bricklayers, masons, ironworkers and men drawn from similar trades, were selected for the Canadian Service. The Engineer for service in the field must, however, first be made a fighting man, and the military efficiency of the Canadian Engineer was established at the Canadian Engineers' Training Centre at Seaford. Here his technical knowledge was adapted to his military duties and he was given instruction in such special subjects as the construction of trenches, dug-outs, headquarters, gun-emplacements, wire entanglements and concrete and timber shelters. Road repairing, water supply, bridge building, pontooning and the rehabilitation of devastated areas, were also included in the training of the Canadian Engineers. In the mounted wing, recruits were taught to ride and drive and to operate the transport equipment of the unit.

(g) Engineer Signals.—Signals constitute a highly technical branch of the Engineers' Service and Engineer Signallers occupy an important position in the military organization, their duties being quite distinct from those of the Battalion Signallers.

It is their business to provide communication between the higher units and formations, and the personnel must be efficiently trained in the construction and use of telephones and telegraphs. The training of the reinforcements for the Corps and Divisional Signal Companies was carried out at the 14 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

signal wing of the Canadian Engineers' Training Centre. Here there was erected a complete set of instruments representing the system employed in France, from General Headquarters to Brigades and Battalions, and it was upon this installation that the recruit received his instruction before proceeding Overseas.

A similar unit, for which the Canadian Engineers' Training Centre acted as a reserve, was the Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company, at which recruits were trained in the work of detecting hostile aircraft and so on.

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