Fighting

Dad's Army in Canada

In 1939, men who were too old for combatant service could enlist in one of a number of auxiliary formations, such as the Volunteer Civil Guard, which performed ceremonial and security duties in Thorold, Ontario, when necessary.

View PDF: Thorold VCG.pdf

Lost in the mail

Everything had to be accounted for in wartime - even chamois vests bought by Canadian soldiers that were lost in transit.

News for the Canadian forces overseas

Distributed free to Canadians in uniform, this digest included snippets of news from across the country, with a healthy dose of sports.

A camera at the front

One of the many publications of Lord Beaverbrook's Canadian War Records Office, this magazine featured the work of Canada's official photographers, and was billed as both propaganda and history.

"'Foreign' Canadians in the Present War"

This general-interest magazine, created by Polish-Canadian journalists in Toronto, was directed at Canadians whose ethnic heritage was neither English nor French.

The Allies at war

Published in England, this magazine highlighted the breadth of the Allied war effort, and particularly the wealth in natural resources of the British Empire, for French-speaking readers.

Constructing barbed wire defences

This manual, used for training purposes by the 215th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, was based on two years' worth of hard experience in defending captured positions.

Voting in Ontario

Wartime elections meant a new class of voters: those in uniform. In Ontario, the franchise was extended to men who were not normally allowed to vote, including those under the age of twenty-one and members of the First Nations, provided they were serving in the military.

Hockey dominates the news pages

The newspaper of HMCS York, billed as "Canada's No. 1 Navy Weekly", was dominated by sports news, with war bulletins and political news items thrown in for good measure.

View PDF: Yorker.pdf

"You have in explosives a good servant"

In this book, Sergeant Coleman of the Royal Canadian Regiment sought to augment the short time given to grenade training by providing practical hints on handling, arming, throwing, and making various kinds of bombs for use in trench warfare.

View PDF: Bombs.pdf

Are you physically fit?

According to these regulations, medical requirements for volunteers to the CEF were fairly stringent. In practice, the need for manpower meant that many serious medical conditions were "overlooked".

How to survive in the trenches

This booklet, written with the benefit of three years of experience with trench warfare, covered everything from gas discipline to rum rations.

Killing at close quarters

This training manual stressed that effective bayonet fighting required "Good Direction, Strength and Quickness, during a state of wild excitement and probably physical exhaustion."

"Are my men full of keenness?"

Just a few months before the attack on Vimy Ridge, Canadian Corps commander Lord Byng showed as much interest in the comfort of his soldiers as he did in tactics - and encouraged his officers to do the same.

A soldier's paybook

Harry Catling, a thirteen-year veteran of the British Army, left Canada for England as a reservist as soon as the First World War began, returned to Canada when his term of service expired in 1916, and promptly enlisted in the Canadian Army Service Corps in Toronto.

How to have a happy and efficient ship

Managing seamen, who were typically divided into four Divisions (Forecastle, Foretop, Maintop, and Quarterdeck), relied heavily on an officer's unselfishness, humour, and common sense - the main principles underlying this training manual.

From Montreal to the Western Front

The formal group portrait was a ritual of service during the First World War. This draft of artillerymen, destined to reinforce units at the front, includes a number of men who appear far too young, and perhaps under the height restrictions, for military service.

"In the interests of Mechanical Maintenance"

CAM was a kind of bible for Canadian military mechanics during the Second World War - but it's equally notable for its fine graphic art covers.

Canloan officers

Heavy losses among British infantry officers necessitated the creation of a program to loan trained Canadian officers, of which there was an ample supply, to British units in the field.

The Quebec Conference

In August 1943, Canada played host to US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and a host of important commanders and civil servants from the Allied nations to plan the next phase of the war against Germany and Japan.

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