The military history of Canada during World War I began on August 4, 1914, when Britain entered the First World War (1914–1918) by declaring war on Germany. The British declaration of war automatically brought Canada into the war, because of Canada’s legal status as a British dominion which left foreign policy decisions in the hands of the UK parliament. However, the Canadian government had the freedom to determine the country’s level of involvement in the war. On August 5, 1914, the Governor General declared a war between Canada and Germany. The Militia was not mobilised and instead an independent Canadian Expeditionary Force was raised.
Canada’s sacrifices and contributions to the war changed its history and enabled it to become more independent, while opening a deep rift between the French and English speaking populations. For the first time in its history, Canadian forces fought as a distinct unit, first under a British commander and then under a Canadian-born commander. The high points of Canadian military achievement during the First World War came during the Somme, Vimy, and Passchendaele battles and what later became known as “Canada’s Hundred Days” Canada’s total casualties stood at the end of the war at 67,000 killed and 250,000 wounded, out of an expeditionary force of 620,000 people mobilised (39% of mobilised were casualties).
Canadians of British descent—the majority—gave widespread support arguing that Canadians had a duty to fight on behalf of their Motherland. Indeed, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, although French-Canadian, spoke for the majority of English-Canadians when he proclaimed: “It is our duty to let Great Britain know and to let the friends and foes of Great Britain know that there is in Canada but one mind and one heart and that all Canadians are behind the Mother Country.” Prime Minister Robert Borden offered assistance to Great Britain, which was quickly accepted.
127TH BATTALION, C.E.F.: 2nd Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops
In November 1915 , the York Rangers were granted permission to raise a complete Bn. for service with the CEF. Despite having already supplied twice their pre-war establishment as drafts for other CEF Bns, the Regiment found 1100 all ranks from York County, Southern Ontario. As 127th Cdn Inf Bn, they reached England in August 1916. Many of the officers and other ranks had worked in in the engineering and railway industries so, when the Railway Construction Corps was formed, the Bn was assigned to it as 2nd Bn,Cdn Railway Troops.
This book is an excellent account of its work, usually under shellfire, constructing light railway tracks at Bapaume, Messines, Ypres, Arras Ect. In April 1918 it was thrown into the line to fight as infantry. Some officers are mentioned in the text, and the appendixes are very detailed, but the main interest is the coverage of combat engineering. A Roll of Honour KIA,DOW, DOD, WIA, and MIA, by year, Honours and Awards, and a list of Officers complete this history.