The First World War began on August 4, 1914, with the Triple Entente (United Kingdom, France and Russia) and other nations (e.g., Canada and Australia) against the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy). However, Italy refused to join in the war effort and instead, in May 1915, it aligned with Britain and France and declared war against Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Canadians saw their first major action at Ypres on April 22, 1915. Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was inspired to write In Flanders Fields to honour a friend who died during this battle.
The Battle of the Somme began early on the morning of July 1, 1916. The 1st Newfoundland Regiment suffered especially heavy losses on that day. Of the approximately 800 Newfoundlanders who went into battle, only 68 were at roll call the following morning.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge began on the morning of April 9, 1917, and ended four days later. It was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together as one formation. The Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge is considered to be a key point in shaping Canada as a nation.
Canadians took part in the Battle of Passchendaele from October to November 1917. In a muddy corner of Belgium, Canadians overcame almost unimaginable hardships to capture this strategic village.
More than 2,800 Canadian Nursing Sisters served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps.
Approximately 4,000 Aboriginal Canadians enlisted during the war. This represented nearly one-third of all Aboriginal-Canadian men eligible to serve.
Approximately 70 Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy” during the First World War.
More than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served during the First World War. More than 66,000 gave their lives and over 172,000 were wounded.
The fighting ended on November 11, 1918, with the signing of the Armistice. The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
Veterans Affairs Canada Survey
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