Canada enters WWI On 3 August 1914, a massive Germany army swept through neutral Belgium and began attacking France. Great Britain demanded the German withdraw from Belgium. Germany did not and Great Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. As a part of the British Empire, Canada was automatically at war. How could Great Britain declaring war cause Canada to be at war? Canada was an independent country since 1867. Was Canada truly independent of British control?
Canada enters WWI In 1914, Canada was only 47 years old. The population of Canada was seven million. Canada was mostly a farming country. Canada had a very small army with little fighting experience. There were 3,100 regular soldiers, 70,000 militia, no modern guns or weapons, and a navy with two cruisers (only one was seaworthy) and 350 sailors. Do you think Canada could help much?
Canada enters WWI Canada did help… Many new Canada’s were from Great Britain. Wanting to fight for their homeland, 59,000 men and women volunteered in 1914. In 1915, the number of volunteers was more than 159,000. In October 1914, the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) sailed to Britain. In January 1915, those soldiers joined the fighting in France.
Canada enters WWI Why did you think so many Canadian men and woman volunteer? Many new Canadians were British and they were loyal to their homeland. Some people wanted adventure…and the war would be over very quickly. Jobs People wanted to be a hero. Men would did not join were sometimes given a white feather as a sign of being a coward.
Canada enters WWI Ross Rifle Scandal - Canada’s army did not have enough rifles. The Canadian government decided to use a made-in-Canada rifle called the Ross Rifle. The rifle worked well on a controlled firing range, but in muddy battlefield conditions, it jammed. As well, the barrel was too long for trench fighting. During the Battle at Ypres, Canadian soldiers threw away their Ross rifles and picked up Lee-Enfield rifles from dead British soldiers. In June 1916, Canada began to replace the Ross rifle.
Canada enters WWI WW1 did not end quickly. The German attack was stopped, and both sides dug trenches. New war weapons were introduced such as exploding shells and long-range artillery. Soldiers hid in the trenches to avoid these weapons. The land between the trenches was called “No Man’s Land.” Long battles were fought for control of this land. Troops would charge across No Man’s Land directly into machine gun fire trying to capture the enemy’s trenches. Many soldiers died for a few metres of land. Canada’s army was learning to fight…bravely.
Canada enters WWI In summary… Canada had to enter WW1 in 1914 because Canada was still a member of the British Empire. Canada had a small and untrained army, but many Canadians volunteered to fight. By 1915, the first Canadians were fighting. WW1 became a trench war with many soldiers dying while fighting for No Man’s Land.