3 – Training and deployment to England with the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Brigade

c and e toronto
Canadian soldiers in training at the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds in Toronto during the First World War.

By February of 1915, the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force (COEF) had become a fact. The 1st Canadian Division had arrived in France in February and would soon be thrust into the fight on the Western Front (Iarocci, p 56).  In 1914, when the first waves of recruits clamoured to sign up the, COEF was still more of an “idea” than a fact. Up to that point, Canada didn’t have what might be thought of as a standing army – certainly not in the way we think of it today. There was a small permanent force of some 3000 professional soldiers under British command (Nicholson, 2015). In addition to this professional force were the non permanent active militia’s – part time civilian forces – across the country numbering about 74,000 soldiers (Iarocci, 1976). The Canadian forces, their make up, their capabilities and their place in the Imperial hierarchy had to be invented, and the effort to build Canadian competence as a separate force was going to take some time and considerable effort. Continue reading “3 – Training and deployment to England with the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Brigade”