canadian battles in wwi ypres, the somme, vimy ridge and passchendaele

Canadian Battles in WWI Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele

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Canadian Battles in WWI

Canadian Battles in WWI

Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele

Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele

The 2nd Battle of Ypres

• Date: April 22, 1915

• Location Ypres, Belgium

• Casualties: 6000 Canadians killed. 70,000 Allied casualties. 35,000 German casualties.

Technology/Hardships• Chlorine gas was introduced by the

Germans as a new weapon.

• As the gas spread and sank into the trenches, Allied soldiers were caught unprepared and many died from breathing in the toxic chemical.

• A Canadian recognized the gas and helped come up with a temporary solution- urinating onto a cloth and breathing through it.

• The Allies were able to fend off the German attack.

Importance to Canada• Canadian’s first battle in the war

• Canadians (and Algerians) were able to hold the line despite the gas attack

• Canadian troops gained experience in trench warfare and gained the respect of both ally and enemy

• Propaganda by the allies vilified the gas while beginning to use it themselves

The Somme

• “The Bloodbath”

• Date: Began July 1, 1916 and lasted 141 days.

• Location: Somme River, France

• Casualties: Over 57,470 British (incl. Canadian) troops in one day. 20,000 dead. For all 141 days 1.24 million casualties for both sides. 24,000 Canadian casualties.

Technology/Hardships• Despite heavy allied bombardment

prior to the offensive, many German gun positions were still active. German barbed wire was only slightly damaged.

• Tanks were used for the first time.

• While there were extremely heavy losses, very little land was taken.

• Biggest disaster for the Allies.

• Troops from Newfoundland were nearly wiped out at Baumont Hamel (90% casualties)

Importance to Canada

• 90% of the Newfoundland regiment wiped out in one day

• Canadian troops become feared by the enemy as skilled and deadly opponents

• More deaths mean fewer volunteer recruits from home

Vimy Ridge

• Date: Easter April 9-12, 1917

• Location Vimy Ridge in Arras, France

• Casualties: 84,000 British, 75,000 German casualties for all of Arras. 10,602 Canadians injured, 3,598 killed at Vimy.

Technology/Hardships• Careful planning went into this first

fully Canadian and Canadian-led offensive.

• General Arthur Currie built a scale model of the area, had reconnaissance of enemy positions, made sure each division knew their targets and practiced the offensive.

• Used a “Creeping Barrage” to great effect, as well as tunnels to the trenches and under enemy lines.

• This was the only significant victory for the allies in 1917.

Importance to Canada• First fully Canadian battle

in the war and led by a Canadian General

• The Canadians captured the ridge in 3 days, where the British and French had been trying for months

• The Canadian soldiers are called “stormtroops” by the German army and seen as an elite fighting unit who the Germans tried to avoid at all costs

Importance to Canada

• “Canada went up the Ridge a Colony, and came down a Nation.”

Passchendaele or the 3rd Battle of Ypres

• “The Battle of the Mud”

• Date: July-November 1917 (Canadians more heavily involved Oct 26- Nov 10)

• Location: Passchendaele, Belgium

• Casualties: “Officially” 245,000 British casualties, may be up to 400,000. Between 200,000-400,000 German casualties. Almost 16,000 Canadian deaths.

Technology/Hardships• Between destroyed drainage

systems due to shelling and the near constant rain, Passchendaele was called the “battle of the mud”.

• Soldiers and horses were known to drown in the mud if they stepped off the duckboards. Machinery was sucked under.

• The Allies only gained 7km of territory and that was taken back by the Germans shortly after.

Importance to Canada• Prime Minister Rober Borden

to the British Prime Minister;

“Mr. Prime Minister, I want to tell you that if there is a repetition of the battle of Passchendaele, not a Canadian soldier will leave the shores of Canada as long as the Canadian people entrust the government of Canada to my hands”

Importance to Canada

• Despite massive loss of life and horrific conditions, Canadians were once again able to gain their objective

• The impression of Canadians as fierce, elite, and deadly persisted and grew

Aboriginal Soldiers• 4000 Aboriginal Canadians

volunteered for the Armed Forces- often as snipers

• Frances Pegahmagabow was the deadliest shot in the war - he gained over 400 kills between 1914 and 1918

• Aboriginal veterans received less than white veterans from the government after the war

• Contributions of Aboriginal soldiers are not well recognized, even today

War in the AirWar in the Air

Canadian Air Force?• There is NO Canadian Air Force

during WWI

• Canadian Pilots flew with the RAF (Royal Air Force of Britain)

• 20,000 pilots, aviators, gunners, and mechanics enlisted with the RAF because life was “better” than the trenches

• Unfortunately, the life expectancy for a new pilot was 3 weeks

German Fokker• The German plane the

“Fokker” introduced a timed machine gun so the pilot could shoot

• The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) became a formidable enemy with the allies scrambling to catch up

• “Dogfights” became deadly and fast-paced, though more pilots dies because they didn’t have parachutes than being shot themselves.

Canadians In the Air• Canadian pilots

became known as some of the best in the world

• By 1918, 40% of the RAF were Canadian

• Billy Bishop (72 kills) and Roy Brown (Killed the Red Baron) were some of Canada’s ost well known Ace pilots (at least 5 kills)

War at SeaWar at Sea

Canada’s “Tin-pot” Navy

• In 1914 Canada had 2 warships- 1 for each coast

• There were a total of 350 sailors

U-Boats and the German Navy

• Germans were masters of the U-boat (submarines)

• They had 400+ during WWI (more than 1/2 are captured or sunk by the end of the war)

• They were small, deadly, and death-traps for the sailors on board

• U-boats decimated British shipping- food, war materiel, soldiers (Lusitania)

• The British had to come up with a method of saving their resources

Convoys and Naval Expansion

• The Convoy system was created in response to wolf packs - this significantly limited the shipping losses

• By 1918, Canada’s navy had grown to 112 warships and 5500 men

• 8000 other men were serving in the British Royal Navy

Halifax Explosion