Canadian forces organization and equipment

Discussion in 'Command Ops Series' started by Bie, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. Bie

    Bie Member

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    I'm looking into the organization of Canadian forces in WW2 for my upcoming Operation Goodwood scenario. Some questions for you guys knowledgeable about these things:

    I can find quite detailed information of division and brigade structure, but less so of battalions and the composition of their companies. Canada being part of the commonwealth, am I correct in thinking that its army organization mirrors its British counterparts?

    I would also imagine that the Canadians used a lot British equipment. Would there be equipment or vehicles that the Canadians specifically used that weren't part of the British arsenal?

    Any information is much appreciated.
     
  2. jimcarravallah

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    You can start here:

    https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/tactical/tactical.htm

    You may be able to cull some more detailed information on specific campaigns here:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/Canada/index.html
     
  3. Bob Hanna

    Bob Hanna Member

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    I have a fair amount of info on the Canadians in Normandy.

    The only significant difference in equipment between the Canadian army and the British Army was that the Canadians had been assigned US M-7 Priests as self-propelled artillery in place of the usual 25pdr's. They had these from D-Day up until around August 1st 44 when they went back to the traditional guns and the priests were then scavenged and turned into troop carrying Kangaroos. Other equipment differences were very minor. The Canadians did not use the Loyd carrier to tow its 6pdr ATG's. Instead they used mainly US built T-17 carriers and there were some different trucks used but this is about it.

    The Canadians stuck very closely to the British org models and personal weapons. If you need info on individual battalions (names, commanders etc.) I can get these for you with a little reading. I also have info on other Canadian actions in Normandy like Juno Beach and the Canadian attacks on Caen and the villages around it. You may need this for future projects.

    By the way, I really like your Caen scenarios. Keep up the good work.
     
  4. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Thanks for info both of you. It seems that not one scenario up to now has Canadian Army units. So I'll basically have to copy them from the British and tweak them a bit. For the moment I'm looking at using the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, as they were used in crossing the Orne River in Caen. It does indeed seem that they are using quite the same organizational structure as the British, even down to the machine gun battalions.

    Interesting snippet of info on the Priests Bob. Any idea why they would use Priests instead of Sextons?
     
  5. hubee0

    hubee0 Member

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    Bie,
    If it could be of any help, Polish 1st Armoured Division was part of Canadian II nd Corps, 1st Can Army. Its OOB, structure and weapons was in general identical to British armoured divisions (16th and Guards). It used Sextons in its artillery regiment.
    The division was formed and trained in Britain though.
     
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  6. Bob Hanna

    Bob Hanna Member

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    The reason the Canadian army used M7 Priests rather than Sextons started with the Canadian strategy on D-Day. Overlord planners wanted Canadian artillery to be able to land, set-up quickly and be able to move quickly in support of what was expected to be a fluid situation on the first two days. The Americans offered the M7's and they were judged to be much more mobile than towed guns, have better crew protection and also have a bit more punch with their 105mm howitzers. There were some Sextons involved on D-Day but the numbers were small (probably an availability issue as the British wanted Sextons also and there was limited production).

    I didn't mention in my first post that the use of M7's was limited to the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division. When the 2nd Infantry Division landed later, they were equipped with the normal 25pdr's.
     
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  7. Bie

    Bie Member

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    I've just about filled the OOB of my scenario with all of the Canadian units I need. I must say their battalions have awesome names: The North Shore Regiment, The North Nova Scotia Highlanders, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Le Régiment de Maisonneuve, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal,...

    They also have a peculiar unit called a Ground Defence Platoon. It is subordinate to a brigade and it was used for defending its HQ. Haven't come across this in the British Army.
     
    #7 Bie, Nov 26, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  8. Bob Hanna

    Bob Hanna Member

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    The Ground Defence Platoon does not seem to be a formal unit. However, higher level HQ's have a habit of hording resources for their own protection. These can include infantry, anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft guns. These may have been units assigned from subordinate infantry units or some brigade troops that were responsible for security.
     
  9. jimcarravallah

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    If you're interested in the collaboration / cooperation, this provides a US perspective on US / Canada cooperation during World War II.

    I live in Michigan, across the border from Windsor in Canada.

    There is a significant collaboration on North American manufacturing between the two countries with the Detroit - Windsor border crossings a major conduit for Canadian manufactured material entering the US and visa versa.

    My going in guess is that Canada constituting its forces on the North American continent would find it easier to equip and train units with some US-manufactured goods than to import those goods from British manufacturing sources.

    Detroit was known as the Arsenal of Democracy during World War II because it's automotive manufacturing capability was transitioned into wartime production with significant quantities of M4 Tanks / Chassis and B-24 Bombers produced in still existing facilities in Detroit and environs. Michigan Avenue, a major street in Detroit, still has residual brick pavement stretches where the M4s were run on the roads from plants which later produced Cadillacs and Fords to shipping points on the Detroit River, which forms the border with Windsor. In addition, Willow Run Airport was built in the western suburbs of Detroit to be the final assembly and distribution point for B-24s to Air Force units throughout the US.

    Here is a US-authored analysis of the collaboration:

    https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-SS-Canada/index.html#index
     
  10. Bob Hanna

    Bob Hanna Member

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    Thanks for this Jim.

    I live in Brockville, ON which is just across the river from upstate NY.

    My father was in the British Army in WW2. He was based in Detroit and his only job was to work with auto manufacturers on the procurement of US trucks for the British Army,
     
  11. TMO

    TMO Member

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    In reply to Bob (hello Bob) regarding the Ground Defence Platoon and whether it was a formal unit or not, on paper, at least, it existed. WE II/148/1 2 Nov 1943 for Ground Defence Pl for an Infantry Bgde has its strength set at 29 ORs (no officers!), one motor cycle, four 15-cwt 4x2 trucks (one each section and one for pl HQ). The platoon was organised as an HQ and three ground defence sections each 8 personnel (though one was the truck driver) with one PIAT and one Bren per section. WE II/148/2 dated 5 April 1945 again lists 29 ORs (still no officers), one motor cycle, four 15-cwt trucks (this time 4x4, one each section and one for pl HQ) three PIATs and three Brens.

    On the later WE it notes to delete the two cooks (part of pl HQ) when attached to an infantry brigade HQ (?). As far as I can tell later WEs tended to reflect what was actually happening in the field so if you're modelling this go with the latter WE. Given that there are three drivers for the three section 15-cwts and one for HQ 15-cwt, I'd imagine an HQ of two plus three seven-man sections.

    Regards

    Tim
     
    #11 TMO, Nov 30, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  12. Bob Hanna

    Bob Hanna Member

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    Tim

    Thanks for the info.

    It makes sense that such a unit existed but I had never seen it formalized.
     
  13. Bones26

    Bones26 Member

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    An excellent source for in-depth detail on the Canadian Forces in WW2, may I suggest Mark Zuehlke's wonderful series of books on the subject (The Canadian Battle Series), and in particular with respect to your specific question, his title "Break-out From Juno - The First Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign, July 4th - August 21, 1944"

    You may also want to peruse his other titles specific to the Normandy Campaign:

    "Juno Beach - Canada's D-Day Victory June 6, 1944"
    "Holding Juno - Canada's Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches: June 7-12, 1944"

    Below are the complete list titles in this terrific series:

    - Tragedy at Dieppe: Operation Jubilee, August 19,1942
    - Operation Husky: The Canadian Invasion of Sicily, July 10-August 7, 1943
    - Ortona: Canada's Epic World war II Battle (December 20-December 27, 1943)
    - The Liri Valley: Canada's World War II Breakthrough to Rome (May 1944)
    - Juno Beach - Canada's D-Day Victory June 6, 1944
    - Holding Juno - Canada's Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches: June 7-12, 1944

    - Break-out From Juno - The First Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign, July 4th - August 21, 1944
    - The Gothic Line: Canada's Month of Hell in World War II Italy (August 1944)
    - Terrible Victory: First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign, September 13-November 6, 1944
    - Forgotten Victory: First Canadian Army and the Cruel Winter of 1944-45
    - On to Victory: The Canadian Liberation of the Netherlands March 23-May 5, 1945

    Cheers !
     
    #13 Bones26, Dec 1, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018
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  14. SG1

    SG1 Member

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    According to general Montgomery, the Canadian troops were also amply provided with all sorts of words beginning with the letter F. If I remember correctly, he notably mentioned “flanking” and some other infamous f-word...
     
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  15. Bones26

    Bones26 Member

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    "Give me American supply lines, British planes, German officers and Canadian troops and I can take over the world."
    - Attributed to General Erwin Rommel.
     

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