The First Canadian Army

The Canadian forces in England had grown steadily since the troops of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division landed in December 1939. The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division arrived in the summer and autumn of 1940, and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was sent overseas in 1941. These first units were primarily infantry, but were followed by two armoured divisions and two armoured brigades. These additional forces necessitated changes in organization. Thus, early in 1942, the First Canadian Army with two corps was formed under the command of the native-born Canadian, General McNaughton. He would later, in 1943, be succeeded by another Canadian, General H.D.G. Crerar.

The role of the First Canadian Army changed as well. After the first few months of intense preparation for an expected imminent invasion which fortunately did not come, the troops were forced to settle down to a long period of waiting. They waited and trained for the time when they could spearhead an Allied attack to regain the Continent. There were only occasional breaks in the weary routine. A small Canadian-British expedition was sent to Spitzbergen beyond the Arctic Circle; and Canadian tunnellers went to Gibraltar to strengthen defences there. In April 1942 a small, unsuccessful raid was attempted near Boulogne, France.

The first major contact with the enemy had come on the other side of the world in Hong Kong and had ended in disaster. The next major contact was also to have disastrous results as the Canadians formed the main assault force for the raid on Dieppe.

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