Canadian Expeditionary Force

Thomas ‘Tommy’ William Holmes served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, enlisting at age 17. Holmes received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the battle of Passchendaele when he was 19, making him the youngest Canadian to earn it.

On 26 October 1917 the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles was taking part in the opening assault by the Canadian Corps on German defences near Passchendaele in Belgium. Heavy machine gun and rifle fire from a German “pillbox” fortification had stopped the advance by the Canadians on the right flank, and had inflicted many casualties. 

Alone and on his own initiative, Private Holmes ran forward and with two grenades killed and wounded the crews of two of the enemy machine guns. Returning for another grenade [where the other Canadians were located], he again attacked the pillbox alone and under heavy fire. Holmes threw his grenade into the entrance of the pillbox and compelled the surrender of its nineteen occupants, in so doing clearing the way for the advance to resume.

After being rewarded for this feat, Holmes later remarked, “I thought everybody did that sort of thing.” He died in Owen Sound, Ontario in 1950.

x, x, x, Tim Cook’s Shock Troops


The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for First World War Canadian soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known grave. The monument is the centrepiece of a 100-hectare (250-acre) preserved battlefield park that encompasses a portion of the grounds over which the Canadian Corps made their assault during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a military engagement fought as part of the Battle of Arras.

photo via

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


In Flanders Fields


Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Canadian Expeditionary Force 

anonymous asked:

How large was the standing Army of Canada upon Britain's entry into the First World War?

Great question, the contributions of Britain’s colonies are well worth examining.  I’m in the middle of looking at French colonial forces at the moment and intend to write about Britain’s imperial forces in more depth in the future.  

Canadian Army: 1914

29th Battalion, (Vancouver), Canadian Expeditionary Force, mustered at Hastings Park, Vancouver - Winter 1914, (source)

The Canadian Army proper came into existence on the Confederation of Canada in 1867.  Prior to this the British army had stationed regular army battalions in Canada to garrison strategic positions and of course there was also the Canadian militia.  By the 1880s the Permanent Active Militia had been formed, a professional forces made up of volunteers - in effect Canada’s regular army.  This was accompanied by the larger Non-Permanent Active Militia which was a semi-professional volunteer force made up of a dozen or so reserve units - many of whom would volunteer when the war began.

The size of the Permanent Active Militia in 1914 was approximately 5,000 men forming one regiment of infantry and two of cavalry.  While the larger part-time Non-Permanent Active Militia numbered perhaps a dozen regiments and artillery detachments.  During the Boer War over 7,000 Canadians volunteered for service.  Following involvement in the Boer War the Canadian government had formed many of the support corps necessary for fighting a modern war, these included the Signalling Corps, Army Service Corps and the Ordnance Stores Corps.  

When Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August 1914, Canada as a senior dominion of the British Army automatically declared war on Germany as well.

However, in 1914 the Permanent Active Militia did not make up the force which was sent to France by the Canadian government.  Again, as during the Boer War this force was formed from Volunteers although on a much more organised scale.  The Canadian Expeditionary Force began to form in the late summer of 1914 and by late 1914 the first units had set sail for Britain, they initially formed a single division numbering approximately 20,000 men - they first saw action in early 1915, at the Second Battle of Ypres.  The Canadian Ministry of Militia and Defence were responsible for the formation, supply and training of the new army.  The men who volunteered initially came from many of Canada’s militia units as well as from the general public.  It was not until 1917 that conscription was introduced.

Canada’s expeditionary forces continued to grow and by September 1915, there were enough men in Europe to form a solely Canadian Corps which could fight independently.  The Corps grew from 35,000 to almost 100,000 men by 1917.  By the end of the war some 640,000 men had enlisted with 60,600 men losing their lives.


‘The Canadian Expeditionary Force’, CWM (source)

'Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918’, Library and Archives Canada (source)


James Cleland Richardson

25th of November, 1895 – 8/9th of October, 1916.

“Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, born in Bellshill, Scotland and a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and then Chilliwack, BC. Richardson was a Piper in the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and he proceeded overseas as part of the large Seaforth contingent of the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, in the First World War, when the following deed took place when he was 20 years old for which he was awarded the VC.

During the Battle of the Ancre Heights on 8 October 1916 at Regina Trench, Somme, France, the company was held up by very strong wire and came under intense fire. Piper Richardson, who had obtained permission to play the company ‘over the top’ strode up and down outside the wire playing his pipes, which so inspired the company that the wire was rushed and the position captured. Later the piper was detailed to take back a wounded comrade and some prisoners, but after proceeding some distance he insisted on turning back to recover his pipes which he had left behind. He was never seen again.

Richardson’s remains were found in 1920 and he is buried at Adanac Military Cemetery, located 6 miles north-east of Albert, France (plot III, row F, grave 36).” (x)

Surname Saturday - Honsberger

Surname Saturday - Honsberger #familyhistory

I’ve been following up on a Goddard “stray”, Hilda Jane Goddard, my second cousin, twice removed. She was born to Samuel Goddard, a bricklayer, and Elizabeth Fuller in about 1900 in Folkestone, Kent.

This family photo shows her parents in the centre. Hilda is in the back row at the far right.

Samauel Goddard and Elizabeth Fuller, with family. Hilda is in the back row, centre, between her…

View On WordPress

Letters Home from the Canadian Expeditionary Force: short film

This short film describes the deployment of 600,000 soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary force using original footage .

The very moving audio draws heavily on letters written home, including those by Private Leo Le Boutillier of the 24th Batallion,…

View Post