History of Canadian's stationed in
The Canadian Active
Service Force was mobilised on 1st September 1939 in
anticipation of the declaration of war. The 1st Canadian
Infantry Brigade was raised in Ontario. They embarked for the UK on the
17th December 1939 and arrived at Greenock, Scotland on the
25th December 1939. The 2nd Canadian Infantry
Brigade was raised in Western, Canada. They embarked from Halifax on the
22nd December 1939 for the UK and arrived at Greenock 30th
December 1939. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade was raised
in Quebec, they moved to Halifax and embarked 8th December
1939 for the UK and arrived at Greenock on the 17th December
1939. As with the 1st and 2nd the 3rd
moved on to Aldershot on arrival. Further units followed and on the 7th
November 1940 a major change took place. When the Military Forces of
Canada were designated “The Canadian Army”. When you drive into
Aldershot the signs say “Home of the British Army” but for the next few
years it would have been more true to call it, ”Home of the Canadian
Army”. Some 330,000 Canadians passed through Aldershot, doing there
training before taking up the defence of the UK while most of the
British soldiers were away. From the autumn of 1941 to early 1944 the
defence of the UK and particularly the Sussex coast was largely in the hands
of the 1st Canadian Army. This was the largest force of
British Commonwealth troops ever to be quartered in the UK at one time.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry
Divisions and other formations spent many months in Sussex. Together
with British troops, they became involved in a series of large-scale and
highly testing exercises across Southern England. As the months and
years went by these exercises became less and less concerned with
training for the defence of the UK against enemy invasion, but more and
more with a cross-channel offensive for the liberation of Europe.
the summer of 1942 disaster overtook the 2nd Canadian
Infantry Division, a formation then largely based in Sussex. They set
out from Newhaven, Shoreham and the Solent ports on the 18th
August for what was by far the biggest cross-channel raid of the war.
They were to meet such murderous enemy fire on the beaches of Dieppe the
next morning that many were mown down within a few yards of leaving the
landing craft. Out of a total raiding force of some 6,000 men –
including some British Commandos, no fewer than 3,367 were killed,
wounded or captured.
Some units sailed from the UK on the 28th June 1943 and
landed in Sicily on the 10th July 1943, but most Canadians
stayed in the UK getting ready for D-Day. Most of the Canadian troops
spent some time in Scotland training but returning to southern England.
Although most were based in southern England some units were based in
Colchester, Northampton, in fact anywhere in the UK. The R.C.A.F. was
also based all over the UK as was the R.C.N.
people of the UK were very pleased to see them as we felt safe having
them around, local children loved them. Some Canadians spent five years
in the UK in training, some married, many more had partners and some
22,000 children were born to Canadian fathers.