Battles Of WWI

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  • 1. World War I Canadians in Battle
  • 2. Training the Troops • The task of training and supplying the troops, and making them ready for war went to Sam Hughes, the minister of militia • He established a training centre in Valcartier, Quebec • Basic training was given to 32,000 enthusiastic Canadian and Newfoundland troops
  • 3. Training the Troops • Before WWI, Canada was a patchwork of regions with few transportation and communication connections • Wartime training brought diverse Canadians together as a group • Boot camp built bridges between them and fostered a sense of national identity, a sense of being Canadian
  • 4. Training the Troops • The army that was formed from these volunteers was known as the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) • The troops were enthusiastic, but ill-prepared and ill-equipped • The Canadian made Ross Rifle often jammed from dirt and mud or when fired rapidly • It was later replaced by the British Lee Enfield Rifle
  • 5. The War Measures Act • Prime Minister Borden realized that to meet the demands of the war, the government would need more control over the country’s affairs • Almost immediately after war was declared, Borden introduced the War Measures Act • This granted the government the authority to do everything necessary “for the security, defence, peace, order, and welfare of Canada”
  • 6. The War Measures Act • Gave the government the power to strip ordinary Canadians of their civil liberties • Mail could be censored • Habeas corpus was suspended • Anyone suspected of being an enemy alien or a threat to the government could be imprisoned or deported • 8579 immigrants from Germany and the Austro- Hungarian Empire were held in internment camps
  • 7. The Schlieffen Plan • The Schlieffen Plan was Germany’s bold plan for a two-front war • France to the west was the Western Front, Russia to the east was the Eastern Front • Almost worked: German troops were 35km from Paris
  • 8. Stalemate • Military deadlock: the war raged on, but trench lines moved very little • No man’s land: the area of land between two enemy trenches that neither side wishes to openly move on or take control of due to fear of being attacked by the enemy in the process • War of attrition: the act of weakening or exhausting by constant harassment, abuse, or attack
  • 9. The Second Battle of Ypres • Some of the bloodiest battles of the early war years were fought in and around the Belgian city of Ypres, in the Flanders district • April 1915: First major battle for the CEF
  • 10. The Second Battle of Ypres • Germans used chlorine gas for the first time in a military battle, even though the use of gas for military purposes had been outlawed since 1907 • Men suffocated or choked to death • Canada lost 1 man in 3 — from gas, but also due to inexperience and failing weapons
  • 11. The Battle of Somme • July 1916: General Douglas Haig launches a massive attack along low ridges near the Somme River • A veteran of cavalry warfare, Haig insisted on using strategies he knew had worked well in previous wars
  • 12. The Battle of Somme • Wave upon wave of troops were ordered to march across open fields • They were almost immediately mowed down by German machine guns • 85% of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, over 700 men including all officers, were killed or wounded with half an hour • When the battle ended, there were over 1 million casualties; Canada had 24,000 casualties
  • 13. The Battle of Vimy Ridge • Since their first offensive in 1914, Germany had controlled Vimy Ridge, a strategically important area in northern France • The French tried three times to regain Vimy, but were unsuccessful
  • 14. The Battle of Vimy Ridge • Canadian troops were chosen to lead a new assault under the command of General Julian Byng (later appointed Governor General of Canada) • Byng developed new strategies, and rehearsed movements thoroughly • Army engineers constructed tunnels to move troops secretly to forward positions
  • 15. The Battle of Vimy Ridge • April 1917, Easter Monday, Canadian troops moved into attack position • Executing their plan of attack, the Canadian corps had taken their first objectives in less than two hours • The Canadians gained more ground, took more prisoners, and captured more artillery than any previous British offensive in the entire war
  • 16. The Battle of Vimy Ridge • The cost was high: over 3500 men killed, over 7000 seriously wounded • However, this was significantly fewer than in any previous Allied offensive • The victory marked a Canadian milestone
  • 17. “They said it couldn’t be done and we did it.”
  • 18. Passchendaele • Byng was promoted for his role at Vimy • He was replaced by a Canadian, General Arthur Currie, the first Canadian ever appointed to command Canada’s troops • Currie brought an increasingly independent Canadian point of view to the British war effort • Open to new strategies, Currie still took orders from General Haig
  • 19. Passchendaele • In 1917, Currie and the CEF were called upon to retake Passchendaele Ridge in Belgium • Unlike Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele was of little strategic importance • Haig’s earlier assault on Passchendaele left massive shell craters in the ground • Many soldiers and horses drowned in these conditions
  • 20. Passchendaele • Currie warned that casualties would be high • Haig and the British command didn’t listen to Currie’s protests • He was right: the Allies won the battle, but the “victory” cost over 15,000 Canadian lives and nearly half a million soldiers from both sides