First Canadian Army

First Canadian Army
First Canadian Army
First Canadian Army formation patch.png
Formation patch worn by army-level personnel
Active during the Second World War 1942-1946
Country Canada
Branch Canadian Army
Role senior Canadian operational formation in Europe during the Second World War.
Size 5 X divisions
2 X brigades
A.G.L. "Andy" McNaughton

H. D. G. "Harry" Crerar.

The formation sign used to identify vehicles associated with army-level units. A flag with the same design was used to identify army staff cars.

The First Canadian Army was the senior Canadian operational formation in Europe during the Second World War.

The Army was formed in early 1942, replacing the existing unnumbered Canadian Corps, as the growing number of Canadian forces in the United Kingdom necessitated an expansion to two corps. By the end of 1943 Canadian formations in the UK consisted of three infantry divisions, two armoured divisions, and two independent armoured brigades. The first commander was General A.G.L. "Andy" McNaughton, who was replaced in 1944 by General H. D. G. "Harry" Crerar. Both had been senior artillery officers in the Canadian Corps in the First World War.

Two brigades of the 2nd Division led the ill-fated Dieppe Raid in 1942. Aside from this endeavour, the Army did not see combat until July 1943. In 1943, 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. In early 1944, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and 2nd 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.

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 critical Battle of the Scheldt in October and November opened Antwerp to Allied shipping.

First Canadian Army generals in Hilversum, the Netherlands, on May 20, 1945 Seated from left: Stanisław Maczek (Polish Army), Guy Simonds II Canadian Corps, Harry Crerar 1st Canadian Army, Charles Foulkes I Canadian Corps, Bert Hoffmeister 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division; Standing from left: Ralph Keefler 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Bruce Matthews 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, Harry Foster 1st Canadian Infantry Division, Robert Moncel (for Chris Vokes 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division, S.B. Rawlins, 49th British Division

The First Canadian Army held a static line along the river Meuse (Maas) from December through February, then launched Operation Veritable in early February, cracking the Siegfried Line and reaching 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 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 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, American, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak troops. 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.

The 'Maple Leaf Route' was the designation of the army's Main Supply Route. The route was usually divided, into MAPLE LEAF UP and MAPLE LEAF DOWN, designating traffic to and away from the front, respectively.

Order of battle


Further reading

Canadian Forces emblem.svg Canadian Armed Forces portal

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 1st Canadian Army — 1re Armée canadienne  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Ire Armée.  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Canadian Army Trophy — The Canadian Army Trophy ( CAT ) was a tank gunnery competition established to foster excellence and competition among the armoured forces of the NATO countries in Western Europe.The trophy itself is a miniature sterling silver replica of a… …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Units (CAV) — The CAV MU is a motorcycle club, or more precisely a motorcycle organized association of military veteran motorcycle riders.The CAV MU is comprised of thousands of Canadian Army, Canadian Air Force and Canadian Navy veterans and still serving… …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit — The Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit (CFPU) was a unit of the Canadian Army founded in 1941 in order to document military operations during World War II. It was the last unit of its kind to be founded by the Allied armies.Among the campaigns… …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Foulkes (Canadian Army general) — For other people of the same name, see Charles Foulkes (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Charles Foulkes (British Army officer). Charles Foulkes General Charles …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian Forces — Canadian Armed Forces Forces armées canadiennes Emblem of the Canadian Forces Current form 1968 Service branches …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Canadian Army — The Canadian Army as such only existed under that name from November 1940 to February 1968. However, the term has been traditionally applied to the ground forces of Canada s military from Confederation in 1867 to the present. The term is often… …   Wikipedia

  • Royal Canadian Army Cadets — Infobox Military Unit unit name=Royal Canadian Army Cadets caption= Royal Canadian Army Cadets badge. dates= country= Canada branch= type= Youth Organization size= garrison=Ottawa, Canada garrison label=Headquarters role= command structure=… …   Wikipedia

  • Canadian Military Engineers — The cap badge of the Canadian Military Engineers Active Country Canada …   Wikipedia

  • Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War — The Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War was a three volume set of books, based on the wartime work of the Historical Section of the General Staff. The Canadian Army had a dedicated set of officers in the Second World War …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”