Canada’s Military Contribution
The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
When the war began, Prime Minister Robert Borden
offered Britain 25,000 troops.
Within a month, more than 30,000 Canadians had joined
the CEF!
They believed the war would be short.
They saw it as an exciting adventure.
It was a way to escape financial problems.
They felt it was their patriotic duty.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
However, not everyone was welcome to join the CEF:
The people who were excluded included
Aboriginal Canadians
African Canadians
Japanese Canadians
Eventually, the CEF did accept these groups, but
Women were only used as nurses and ambulance
Minorities were almost never promoted
The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
Why was the CEF important to Canada?
The CEF has been credited with helping to create a
National Identity in Canada.
It was the first time that Canadians from coast to
coast had been brought together to fight side by side.
This made people living in Canada feel a little more
Canadian and a little less British.
The Battle of Ypres (April 1915)
This is the first battle in which the Germans used
chlorine gas against Canadian troops.
Soldiers were blinded, burned and suffocated by the gas.
6,000 Canadians were killed, wounded or captured.
Incredibly, the Canadians managed to hold on to their
lines, and neither side gained the advantage.
The Battle of the Somme (July-November 1916)
British General Douglas Haig ordered British, French and
Canadian troops to attack German positions near the
Somme River.
The strategies he used were outdated; he simply ordered
soldiers to march across open fields towards the enemy.
Casualties were great!
85% of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was killed
or wounded in the first half hour.
24,000 Canadians were killed or wounded, along with
1 million soldiers from the other countries.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge (April 1917)
British General Julian Byng prepared the CEF for an attack on
Vimy Ridge
The French had tried to take Vimy 3 times, but failed.
Byng developed good strategies (tunnels, maps, Vimy Glide) and
trained the troops very well before the attack.
Between April 9 and April 12, the CEF managed to capture the
entire ridge!
The CEF gained more ground, captured more weapons and took
more prisoners than any previous allied offensive.
The victory made Canadians proud and helped to create a
greater sense of national identity.
The Battle of Passchendaele (Autumn 1917)
Canadian General Arthur Currie and the CEF were ordered to
help take Passchendaele Ridge in Belgium.
This ridge had little strategic value, but Haig wanted it to be
taken because he had lost it earlier in the war.
Earlier battles had left huge crater holes in the ground which
were filled with mud.
Soldiers and horses often drowned in these conditions.
This ridge was taken, but 15,000 Canadians were killed along
with 500,000 soldiers from both sides.