Canadians in Other Campaigns

Although the major Canadian war effort was concentrated in the Canadian Corps on the Western Front, Canadians also served in other campaigns and endeavours. Of some 150,000 Canadian troops in France and Belgium at the time of the Armistice, nearly 40,000 were outside Currie's command. They included the Cavalry Brigade which served directly with British formations, and those men who served in the naval and air operations.

Nurses

In western Europe a small army of Canadians toiled in specialized units. Foresters cut much needed timber in British forests and created airfields for Allied air forces. Tunnellers worked under very difficult conditions underground, digging extensive tunnel systems, fighting a terrifying underground war and laying and guarding mine charges. The railway battalions, often under shellfire, laid and maintained most of the British light railway networks on the Western Front. One railway company was sent to Palestine to rebuild the rail bridges of the Yarmuk Valley, which had been destroyed by the Turks.

Canadian infantry and artillery garrisons served in Bermuda and St. Lucia; Canadian hospital units in the Mediterranean cared for casualties from the Gallipoli campaign; small parties of Canadian engineers operated barges on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia; and Canadian instructors trained troops in the United States.

Some six thousand officers and men from the future province of Newfoundland served with the British forces in Egypt and Gallipoli, on the Western Front, and at sea. The Newfoundlanders' long service overseas exacted a heavy toll. The total fatal casualties of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment numbered 1,305 all ranks, or more than one in five. In addition 179 Newfoundland sailors were lost at sea.

When the Canadian Corps was celebrating the armistice in Mons, other Canadian soldiers were engaged in battle with the Communist forces on the Dvina River, south of Archangel, in northern Russia. More than five hundred Canadians were sent to occupy the ports of Murmansk and Archangel to prevent the Germans from seizing them and to open a new front.

Another, much larger, Canadian contingent was sent to Siberia on Russia's eastern flank. In all about 4,000 men embarked for Vladivostok in October 1918. The need for a new front disappeared with the Armistice and the force was withdrawn in April 1919.

Forty Canadians also served in a third Russian theatre. In the summer of 1918 they joined a British Mission known as "Dunsterforce" which occupied the Caspian port of Baku to protect the oil fields from the Turkish enemy.

On the home front war demands called for efforts that paralleled the military endeavours overseas. The War of 1914-1918, unlike those which preceded it, involved not only arms and men, but whole civilian populations as well. Although Canadians at home were spared the direct ravages of war, they nevertheless felt some of the burdens and suffering of the conflict. Canadians from farm to factory were called upon to make their sacrifices for the war effort.

Date modified: