History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Operation TIMBERWOLF

(Note: this article describes the planning and execution of Operation TIMBERWOLF, the administrative move of I Canadian Corps to Italy in 1943-44. The move of the Corps to North-West Europe in 1945 was known as Operation GOLDFLAKE.)

The original intent of both the Canadian government and the Canadian Army overseas was to release forces from the 1st Canadian Army in the United Kingdom for Operation HUSKY (the invasion of Sicily) and then return them to the U.K. at the completion of the operation, bringing with them much-needed battle experience. On 28 June 1943, both the 1st Canadian Division and 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade were earmarked for return to the U.K. in this manner. However, other formations were later selected to return and the Canadians were chosen to remain in theatre. The division's commander, Major-General Guy Simonds, requested clarification in mid-October 1943 as to the future of Canadian employment in Italy. Among other considerations was the necessity of moving the Canadian reinforcement base from North Africa to Italy should the Canadian presence be prolonged.

The directive under which Canadians were operating had only authorized employment in operations "from or based on North Africa", a situation later defined to include those operations across the Messina straits in the extreme south of Italy. Behind the scenes, Operation TIMBERWOLF, a project to send a Canadian corps headquarters to the Mediterranean, had been in progress for over two months. Colonel Ralston, the Canadian Minister of National Defence, had met with British officials in August 1943 to discuss the matter, including the British Prime Minister and Chief of the Imperial General Staff. The matter was discussed formally in consultations prior to the QUADRANT Conference at Québec. The Prime Minister conveyed his request to the British Chiefs of Staff, who felt it not practical due to the shipping capacity necessary to take a Canadian division and corps troops to Italy, in light of the pending build-up of American forces in Britain and the need for resources it would require.

This decision was confirmed by a telegram from (Prime Minister) Churchill to (Prime Minister) King on 19 September conveying a negative reply to the Canadian Government's request, on the grounds that the movement of Canadian troops to Italy would "involve disturbing decisions taken as recent[ly] as Quebec Conference without any military justification which was not valid when Conference took place." The Canadian Government did not yet give up hope (its experience in getting the 1st Division to the Mediterranean had shown what may be accomplished by perseverance). On the last day of September the Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Vincent Massey, asked Mr. Churchill whether the British decision might be reconsidered, and was told: "I will have another try."1

On 7 October, the British C.I.G.S. informed the Canadian senior combatant officer, General McNaughton, that the question was being re-opened, and examined on a basis of an exchange of personnel only - XXX Corps headquarters, Corps Troops, and the 7th Armoured Division would leave their equipment in Italy and only the personnel would return to the U.K., in exchange for the men of a Canadian Corps headquarters, Corps Troops, and division. McNaughton endorsed sending an armoured division after some discussion, and the I Canadian Corps and 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division were selected to go to Italy. Facing the possibility of the Army headquarters in England being broken up as now surplus to needs, but eager after four years of relative inactivity to become more involved in the prosecution of the war beyond a purely defensive role, the government agreed to send the corps to Italy. In the event, 1st Canadian Army went to Normandy, with a mix of Canadian, British and other foreign formations under command, just as the British 8th Army had been a cosmopolitan mix of nationalities during its existence. However, McNaughton had been adamant that Canada should end the war with a national army intact, and made his views known, suggesting that if the government decided to disperse the army, as was being considered, even after the invasion of northern Europe, that he might no longer be the right person for the job of senior commander. "This fundamental difference of opinion certainly contributed to producing his retirement before the end of the year."2

Reaction among senior commanders was cool. General Eisenhower, commanding Allied forces in the Mediterranean, gave a qualified approval, based on the fact that shipping already being used to relocate American and British resources would be used, and impacts on the build-up for the invasion of northern Europe would be minimal. Eisenhower expressed a concern that he would be pressured to get the Canadians into action at an early date, and General Alexander, commanding the Army Group administering both Allied armies in Italy (U.S. 5th and 8th British 8th), complained to the C.I.G.S. that there was already too much armour in Italy than could be usefully employed, and he had no use for another corps headquarters, which would unbalance his order his battle.3

Order of Battle: TIMBERWOLF Forces

Once the decision had been made, the move proceeded quickly.  The proposed force in Italy, as envisioned at the start of October 1943, would be a "balanced Corps" consisting of:

  • 1st Canadian Division

  • 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division

  • 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade

  • hospitals on an appropriate scale

  • Corps troops and rear echelon units as required

The code name TIMBERWOLF was adopted for the move on 9 October. Security was tight; although the Italian Navy was no longer a threat in the Mediterranean, German submarines and aircraft were, and a new threat from radio-controlled glider-bombs had appeared at the end of August 1943. Embarking units were put into communication blackout and unit and formation insignia was removed from uniforms. Farewell parties were forbidden, and the use of coded markings on baggage (using unit serial numbers and colour-coded bars) was used rather than the use of names.

Some 200 Canadian units, spread across Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, moved from the U.K. to Italy. The detailed order of battle of the TIMBERWOLF force included four main groups:

  • 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division (15,000 men)

    • 5th Armoured Brigade

    • 11th Infantry Brigade

    • Divisional arms and services

  • I Canadian Corps Troops (8,500 men)

    • Corps Headquarters

    • 1st Armoured Car Regiment (The Royal Canadian Dragoons)

    • 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment)

    • 7th Anti-Tank Regiment

    • 1st Survey Regiment

    • Royal Canadian Engineers - field park company and three field companies

    • Royal Canadian Army Service Corps - two corps troops composite companies, corps transport company, motor ambulance convoy

    • Royal Canadian Corps of Signals - various units

    • Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps - various units

  • elements of Army troops (3,700 men)

    • 1st Canadian Army Group Royal Artillery (AGRA)

      • 1st Medium Regiment, RCA

      • 2nd Medium Regiment, RCA

      • 5th Medium Regiment, RCA

      • 11th Field Regiment, rCA

    • Various signal, ordnance, supply and transport units

    • No. 3 Company, Canadian Dental Corps (to service Army and Corps troops)

    • No. 8 Company, Canadian Dental Corps (to service 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division)

  • elements of General Headquarters and Line of Communications Troops (6,600 troops)

    • No. 1 Canadian General Hospital (600 beds)

    • No. 14 Canadian General Hospital (1200 beds)

    • Other medical units, base reinforcement depot (with four reinforcement battalions), miscellaneous administrative units and detachments

    • Two increments to the Canadian Sections of G.H.Q. 1st and 2nd Echelons already in theatre

Legal Status

The move of the corps from Canadian command in the U.K. to British control required action by the legal branch of Canadian Military Headquarters (C.M.H.Q.) in London. While in the U.K., Canadian forces fell under the auspices of the Visiting Forces (British Commonwealth) Act 1933, that stated all matters of discipline, training and internal administration rested with the Canadian government while Canadian forces served together with British forces in the U.K.

It was now necessary for a properly constituted military authority-in this case General McNaughton-to issue a directive which would give the G.O.C.-in-C. 15th Army Group powers of command and discipline over the troops concerned. Similar action had been taken with respect to the 1st Division and the Army Tank Brigade for the Sicilian operations. McNaughton's Order of Detail of 20 October (1943) placed all Canadian Military Forces in the Mediterranean theatre "in combination with all the Naval, Military and Air Forces ... of the British Commonwealth ...serving in or based upon or operating from the Continent of Africa ..." from the time of their embarkation in the United Kingdom.4

The corps commander was given the power to withdraw the Canadian force from being "in combination" if in is opinion he were to receive orders that were not operationally practicable or in variance with Canadian government policy, provided that Allied forces were not endangered or "opportunity is not lost." He was also, in the event of disagreements with the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of 15th Army Group, permitted to make representations to the Canadian Government through the Senior Combatant Officer of the Canadian Army regarding matters involving Canadian forces under his command.

Equipment and Administrative Status

The Canadian official history notes drily that:

In the initial discussions on "Timberwolf" the War Office had made the condition that the 5th Armoured Division would take over the equipment of the British 7th Armoured Division, which it was replacing in Italy, and the rest of the Canadian Corps units that of the 30th Corps. It was agreed that the Canadians would carry with them only their personal arms and equipment (including Bren guns and two-inch mortars). This problem of meeting their needs, especially in vehicles, was to cause considerable trouble before it was finally settled.5

Another history notes that:

As the First Division had discovered earlier, British vehicles that had come through the desert campaign were on their last legs, or wheels, by the time they were handed over to the Canadians. The 7th Division's history candidly admits that many of these vehicles had been second-hand acquisitions in early 1943. Moreover, the 7th had swapped some of its better vehicles for the wrecks of other Eighth Army formations. The situation was exacerbated by a shortage of tools and spare parts...At Fifth Division headquarters, Lieutenant-Colonel J.L. Sparling ruefully noted that "the non-runners almost exceeded the runners."6

Allied Force Headquarters had noted early on that British equipment being transferred from XXX Corps was "heavily depleted and almost  fully mortgaged as reserves for the British forces now engaged on the mainland." (The equipment itself was located on the island of Sicily where XXX Corps was preparing for its departure for the U.K.) There was a further concern raised that the equipment used by the British 7th Armoured did not correspond with types used by Canadian armoured divisions, necessitating a period of training - for example, wireless equipment. An administrative necessity also meant that non-divisional troops had to disembark in North Africa, with a delay before their shipment to Italy, with priority of shipping going to men reinforcing combat units in the field and troops for the lines of communication.

At the time of TIMBERWOLF, Canadian forces in the Mediterranean were already widely dispersed:

  • 1st Canadian Division - in combat near Campobasso

  • 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade - also in combat near Campobasso

  • Canadian Section, General Headquarters, 1st Echelon - near Santo Spirito (near Bari) close to 15th Army Group H.Q.

  • Canadian Section, General Headquarters, 2nd Echelon - Phillippeville, North Africa

  • Base Reinforcement Depot - Phillippeville, North Africa

  • No. 14 Canadian General Hospital - Phillippeville, North Africa

The administrative problems caused by the arrival of 1st Canadian Corps, and in particular the task of re-equipping units, would be exacerbated by wider dispersal of Canadian units and therefore efforts were made to alleviate these problems. "The situation could best be met by concentrating all the Canadian administrative services and maintaining them under a single direction." The officer in charge of the Canadian Section, G.H.Q. 1st Echelon, was accredited to the headquarters of 15th Army Group, but physically located at the new advanced headquarters of Allied Force H.Q. in Naples. They were charged with relieving the 1st Canadian Corps headquarters of non-operational tasks.

The dispatch of additional Canadian forces to Italy necessitated the organization of a second base reinforcement depot of four battalions. It also led to the concentration in the Naples area of the majority of the Canadian reinforcement units in the theatre, thereby ending the delays which a shortage of shipping had imposed upon the movement forward of reinforcements from No. 1 Depot near Philippeville. To control the two Depots and other base units, Headquarters No. 1 Base Reinforcement Group was formed, under the command of Brigadier E. W. Haldenby. The two new headquarters and two of the battalions of No. 2 Depot sailed direct to Naples (Nos. 7 and 8 Battalions spent a month near Algiers en route). The Canadian 2nd Echelon moved from Philippeville early in December, to be followed by No. 1 Depot. By January the entire Canadian Base Reinforcement Group (less No. 4 Battalion, which was operating as an advanced reinforcement base) had been brought together at Avellino, 35 miles east of Naples.


Map based on image from Appendix "C", Canadian Military Headquarters Report No. 170 "Operation Timberwolf: The Movement of I Canadian Corps to the Mediterranean, 1943" (Historical Section, Canadian Military Headquarters, 10 Feb 1947)

Formation Location of Headquarters Date
Allied Force Headquarters (A.F.H.Q.) Algiers, North Africa 1942-July 1944
A.F.H.Q. Advanced Administrative Echelon (a.k.a. FLAMBO) Naples 24 October 1943
15th Army Group Headquarters Bari  
15th Army Group Headquarters Caserta November 1943
  Canadian Base Reinforcement Group Avellino January 1944


Canadian officers warm themselves at a stove in San Vito Chietino, Italy, on 13 January 1944. At left is Captain J.L. Hayes, 2nd Echelon Liaison Officer, Canadian Base Reinforcement Depot and at right Captain J.D. Kerr, 2nd Echelon Liaison Officer, 1st Armoured Brigade. Both are wearing leather jerkins over wool battle dress. Kerr is wearing wool puttees in lieu of the standard web anklets, a common affectation in the Mediterranean, and appears to have sewn cloth rank insignia to his jerkin (with the appropriate yellow arm-of-service backing colours signifying the Canadian Armoured Corps). LAC photo

The actual movement of the Corps began well in advance of preparations to receive them. The corps commanders and advance headquarters of 30 officers and N.C.O.s moved to Algiers by air on 24 October to meet the rest of the advance party. TIMBERWOLF troops embarked at Liverpool, Glasgow and Gourock from 23 to 26 October and the 24-ship convoy (most of them U.S. transports) rendezvoused in the Clyde, departing the evening of 27 October. The convoy was transited the Gibraltar straits on 4 November after a wide course through the North Atlantic, and on 6 November was attacked by German torpedo bombers north of Philippeville, hitting three ships. S.S. Santa Elena, with 1,800 Canadian personnel, was forced to abandon ship, and survivors were taken aboard S.S. Monterey, already carrying most of the 11th Infantry Brigade, and U.S. destroyers.7

"The crew of the Santa Elena did not not know how to release the boats, so, directed by Matron Blanche Herman of Lunenburg, the nurses knocked the oars free of the falls, and, singing their hearts out took over the oars and pulled asay." From the bridge, someone ordered the nurses to be quiet, which struck Lieutenant Duncan Fraser as rather odd. "It seemed unlikely that a bunch of Canadian nurses would add much to the clamour when our gun crew was trying to shoot down a German aircraft with the aft four inch gun, and all the ships in the convoy were tearing the night apart with anti-aircraft fire." There was, happily, no loss of life among the Canadians.8

Santa Elena was put under tow but sank less than a day later. Three German bombers were claimed by the anti-aircraft gunners of the convoy (two other ships, neither carrying Canadians, had also been sunk). While no Canadians were lost, personal equipment and kit was lost. The Monterey was unable to dock at Philippeville due to rough seas, and went to Naples instead. The convoy split up and continued to August, Palermo and Naples. The majority of Army and Corps troops went to the two ports on Sicily. Temporary headquarters of the 1st Canadian Corps was established in Taormina at the San Domenico Palace Hotel, previously a German headquarters, then used as an H.Q. by the 50th (Northumbrian) Division and then XXX Corps. The hotel overlooked Mount Etna and the Mediterranean. The 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division and G.H.Q. units unloaded at Naples, arriving on the John Ericsson and the Thurston on 8 November, and the Monterey on 10 November. Divisional H.Q. was established in Afragola while the men set up in a transit area on the road to Caserta, where both hospitals and attached units were set up (and a third hospital arrived in January).


Personnel of Headquarters Company, No.2 Canadian Base Reinforcement Depot who survived the sinking of S.S. Santa Elena disembark at Naples, Italy, on 8 November 1943. In the foreground is an Auxiliary Services officer wearing the sleeve insignia of The Salvation Army. LAC photo

By 15 November, the G.O.C. of the 5th Canadian Division noted that he was anxious to get away from the squalid suburbs of Naples, which he thought depressing and inappropriate for training. A concentration area at Altamura, 28 miles south-west of Bari.

(B)ut before the Division could move, it had to take over the vehicles and equipment of the British 7th Armoured Division. The transfer was made during the third week of November, and in the process the misgivings with which Canadian units had parted with their vehicles before leaving England proved fully justified. Most of the equipment (except tanks, which were to be supplied by Headquarters 15th Army Group under a different plan) changed hands directly between the units concerned, the 11th Canadian Brigade taking over from the 131st Brigade, and the 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade from the 22nd Armoured Brigade.

It was soon seen that there were problems of establishment to be settled. Differences existed between the scales and types of equipment as prescribed for Canadian armoured divisions and their British counterparts in the Middle East, and the situation was further complicated by the fact that the 7th Armoured Division during its many months of fighting with the Eighth Army had devised substitutions and improvements in the official scale of both personnel and vehicles to such an extent that Canadians trying to make an accounting during the take over reported despairingly that "the `Desert Rats' have a War Establishment all their own." Thus, in many cases the vehicles received from the British formations were found to be in excess of normal establishments, and the Canadian units were unable to man these with their existing driver strength.

There was more serious ground for complaint, however, with respect to the type and the condition of the vehicles. In the first place, the proportion of transport with two-wheel drive was unsatisfactorily high. Such equipment might well serve on the dry and level desert; but the prospect of facing the mountain grades and winter mud of Italy without their accustomed four-wheel drives was as displeasing to the units of the 5th Division as it had been to those of the infantry division when re-equipping for Operation "Baytown". There was greater dissatisfaction over the unserviceable condition of a large number of the vehicles relinquished by the 7th Armoured Division. Diaries of the Canadian units concerned are uniformly critical of the lack of battleworthiness or even roadworthiness of their acquisitions; indeed the 7th Division's own published history remarks that some of its "vehicles had been with the division since the previous February [1943], when they had been obtained second hand from 4th Indian Division. Several thousand miles, mostly over open desert, had not subsequently improved them." "It is true", wrote General Simonds to the Canadian Corps Commander, "that the 7 Armd Div landed at Salerno with this same transport, but they had been told that providing their vehicles were good for 2000 miles they should not worry. Most of these same vehicles have now done well over 3000 miles since landing." To make matters worse, it appears that a natural spirit of camaraderie among the veterans of the desert fighting had led to extensive unofficial "swapping" of the 7th Armoured Division's better vehicles for the worst in other units and formations of the Eighth Army, these latter finishing up in the hands of the Canadians. There was an almost complete lack of tools, and the problem of the supply of spare parts promised to be seriously complicated by the discovery that the resourceful mechanics of the Eighth Army had been in the habit of "cannibalizing" transport of different makes, in order to produce from two or more broken-down vehicles one that was reasonably roadworthy.9

Noteworthy was the fact that it required more transport room to get ammunition and petrol to the Shermans of the 7th Armoured, than the equivalent number of vehicles in the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division, who had trained on the Ram tank and based their establishments on those vehicles. The use of two-wheel drive vehicles did not prove to be problematic in the 1st Canadian Infantry Division because sufficient four-wheel drive vehicles also existed to assist in pulling them out of trouble when necessary. General Simonds, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in action in Sicily and southern Italy, and now commanded the 5th Armoured, gave the opinion that at least half his transport would need to be four-wheel drive to prevent the division from being immobile in wet conditions.

The move from Naples to Altamura - across the peninsula - resulted in a string of breakdowns; the 11th Brigade spent three weeks recovering all the mechanical failures. Representations to both 15th Army Group and A.F.H.Q. produced no results; there were no spare vehicles anywhere in theatre to replace the worn-out desert veterans. On 2 December, the Minister of National Defence visited and proposed that new vehicles earmarked for 1st Canadian Corps Troops be used for the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division, an idea rejected by the corps commander.

On his arrival at Algiers he had discovered that the original agreement reached with the War Office, by which the Canadian Corps Troops should be re-equipped from the 30th Corps, was without practical basis, as indeed General Eisenhower had already pointed out. The British Corps had landed in Sicily with many of its units equipped on only assault or light scales, and these had not subsequently received their full normal issue of vehicles and stores. Vehicle mortality and deterioration during "Husky" had outstripped programmes of replacement and repair, and stocks remaining at the conclusion of the campaign had been turned in for overhaul and dispatch to meet the needs of the Eighth Army on the mainland. A.F.H.Q could make no stocks of vehicles or other equipment in North Africa available to replace this almost total deficiency. Indeed, Canadian staff officers in conversation with their British "opposite numbers" at Algiers and in Sicily had found a marked lack of enthusiasm towards the forthcoming arrival of the Canadian Corps in the Mediterranean. "Their reaction was one of surprise that we should be coming at all, and incredulity that we should be coming almost completely unequipped."10

In September and October, 8th Army's problems were compounded by a lack of base workshops - worn engines had to be shipped 2,000 miles to Egypt for reconditioning.

Allied Force Headquarters now asked the War Office to provide vehicles to equip the 1st Canadian Corps Troops, and C.M.H.Q. was in turn asked to do so, Canadian vehicle types being considered more appropriate for Canadian units.

To meet the situation A.F.H.Q. asked the War Office to provide from the United Kingdom the vehicles required to equip the 1st Canadian Corps Troops. The request was passed to C.M.H.Q. "on the grounds that if complete vehicles are to be from the U.K., Canadian types would be more suitable for [Canadian] units." C.M.H.Q. had already undertaken to provide vehicles for the returning British units, and the 3350 which General McNaughton immediately made available were credited against this commitment.

This was the transport which General Crerar was determined should be held intact for equipping his Corps units, in spite of the difficulties which were being encountered by the 5th Armoured Division. He set forth his reasons for this decision in a letter to Brigadier Beament on 11 December:

The basis we are now working on is that agreed to by Gale with me in Algiers and on the conditions which Gale assured me obtained, i.e., that A.F.H.Q. had the means available, in this theatre, adequately to equip 5 Cdn Armd Div. but that Corps Troops would need to obtain their M.T. from the U.K. I desire to stand on that policy until it is proved, quite definitely, that it is impossible for A.F.H.Q. to produce for Simonds the . . . vehicles, weapons, etc., which I was assured could be made available. There is danger in switching M.T. from Corps Troops to 5 Cdn Armd Div because the result may well be that a reason can thus be found to delay the formation of 1 Cdn Corps owing to the non-equipment of one or more Corps Troops units which Army or Army Group may then say are essential for the purpose.

To General Simonds he wrote:

Gale is fully aware of the political importance attached to the re-equipment of the Canadian formations . . . as well as knowing the military implications. He is also in a position to do what is required about the situation.

The Corps Commander had decided wisely. At the end of the year Simonds was to report: "Eighth Army have `turned on the heat' for us and controlled stores to complete our W.E. are flowing through fairly well. We have been given 97 new engines for vehicles ...."11

The 5th Division's tanks took longer. General McNaughton had insisted the division have Sherman tanks with 75mm guns. General Simonds was given the choice of accepting 95 Shermans from the 7th Armoured with diesel engines or accepting new tanks from North Africa with Chrysler engines, and the latter was chosen, a delivery rate of 50 per week beginning in December promised. In the event, the first two Shermans did not arrive until 19 December (going to the Governor General's Horse Guards), and only a few tanks would arrive in the next weeks due to shipping difficulties.12 The Governor General's Horse Guards was the only Canadian unit to completely equip with the Sherman I and II.13

Once the decision had been made to send 3,350 vehicles to equip the corps troops with motor transport from the U.K., space was found in three convoys, and the move of the vehicles went smoothly and by the end of January 1944, with the exception of some technical vehicles, all Corps Troops units had received their vehicles. Equipment involved a canvas of resources through the entire Mediterranean theatre, the keenest necessity being guns for the artillery units. The 2nd and 5th Medium Regiments did not receive guns until late February 1944, and only partial allotments, filling their establishments only in April, at about the same time the 7th Anti-Tank Regiment equipped with M-10 self-propelled guns.

Summary of Re-Equipment Programme
Percentage of War Establishment held as of 10 February 1944
1st Canadian Corps Artillery14

Unit "B" Vehicles Signals Equipment Warlike Stores G1098 Stores Guns Remarks
1 Cdn Med Regt 100% 75% 80% 75% 100% Only 5 guns out of 16 in action; 3-ton Lorries, GS held are 4x2's (i.e. two-wheel drive), 4x4's are essential
2 Cdn Med Regt 98% 80% 40% 50%    
5 Cdn Med Regt 98% 100% 100% 100%    
7 Cdn A-Tk Regt 98% 75% 47% 50% 100% Complete in quantities but NOT in types
1 Cdn LAA Regt 98% 75% 64% 50% 100%  
11 Cdn LAA Regt 98% 80% 52% 50% 100% 9 short but 9 guns held this area for this unit.
1 Cdn Svy Regt 98% 90% 90% 50%    

With these and certain other exceptions-notably in motorcycles and signal stores-the equipment of Canadian troops in Italy had in general been brought up to at least local standards by the end of January. Although complaints about deficiencies continued, these were common to all units in the Mediterranean theatre-which was beginning to feel more and more keenly the effect of the priority being given to the needs of the approaching invasion of North-West Europe.15

Commanders

General Guy Simonds, as noted above, had commanded the 1st Canadian Infantry Division on Sicily and in Southern Italy. His transfer to gain command of an armoured division was first suggested to General McNaughton by the commander of the 8th Army, General Montgomery, who spoke in glowing terms of Simonds and the way he handled the operations of the division as a formation of XXX Corps and 8th Army, and considered him a prime candidate for eventual promotion to corps command himself.

General McNaughton initially thought that the transfer of Simonds out of the 1st Division would be an ideal opportunity for General Crerar to gain operational experience, as to that point in the war, he had not yet commanded a field formation. Crerar was Senior Combatant Officer at C.M.H.Q. between October and July 1939, then Vice Chief of the General Staff and Chief of the General Staff before being appointed as General Officer Commanding I Canadian Corps in April 1942. At the time of the discussion of the transfer of Simonds to an armoured division, TIMBERWOLF was not yet contemplated, meaning Simonds' move back to the U.K. to lead a division not then anticipated to see action for some time would reflect poorly in the eyes of the Canadian public and do little service to the work done by Simonds in action. As the situation regarding TIMBERWOLF evolved, the ability of Crerar to go to Italy as a corps commander for operational experience was made apparent.

The matter came up again at the end of October, on the occasion of Crerar's first meeting with General Montgomery in Italy. His directive from General McNaughton had enjoined him to request the 15th Army Group that all Canadian formations and units then in Sicily and Italy be brought together under his command in the 1st Canadian Corps at the earliest convenient date. Montgomery, however, frankly stated that he did not want another corps set up in Italy, and proposed instead that Crerar should take over command of the 1st Canadian Division and turn his back, for the time being, on Headquarters 1st Canadian Corps and the problems of equipping the Corps Troops and the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. But the circumstances in which General Crerar might have become G.O.C. 1st Canadian Division had changed materially during the past month, and the proposal was one which his present instructions did not permit him to accept.16

The 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division was therefore taken under command by Major-General Guy Simonds; for the actual move to Italy (where Simonds was already located), the division was commanded temporarily by Brigadier R.O.G. Morton, the division's Commander, Royal Artillery. The 11th Infantry Brigade also received a new commander, Brigadier George Kitching, who had previously been a General Staff Officer Grade 1 in the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. Brigadier G.R. Bradbrooke, commanding the 5th Armoured Brigade for a year, would only continue in his post until February 1944 when Brigadier J.D.B. Smith took over, and Brigadier Morton was also replaced as CRA at the end of 1943 by Brigadier H.A. Sparling.

The new command arrangements were not without problems. When I Canadian Corps finally became operational on 1 February 1944 (marking the first time in the war that a Canadian corps was active in the field), Crerar's personality immediately clashed with both his division commanders (Vokes of the 1st Division and Simonds of the 5th Armoured).17

The subject of his command had already brought him into disagreement with his superior, General Montgomery, the previous autumn, when the latter suggested giving Vokes a break from commanding the 1st Division in order that Crerar might get his feet wet in divisional command, in combat, before running a corps operationally. Crerar did not acquiesce and "Montgomery, in a fit of pique, refused Crerar permission to visit (8th) army headquarters."18 The two would later clash again in Normandy, Montgomery as commander of 21st Army Group, and Crerar as commander of 1st Canadian Army.19

Crerar argued with Simonds at Campobasso in October, the latter believing Crerar had not wanted him for the position of chief staff officer in the U.K. in 1942. Weeks later, in early December, Simonds ejected a staff officer sent by Crerar to take measurements of his command caravan. Crerar chose to "make an issue of this incident" by writing Simonds a letter, claiming the matter was, in his words, "a personal discourtesy", and accused Simonds of having over-stretched nerves. Crerar then complained to Montgomery, who stated plainly in a written response that his sympathies lay with Simonds and he had no intention of getting involved in their dispute.20

Notes

  1. Nicholson, Gerald The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945 (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1957), pp.340-343

  2. Ibid, pp.343-344

  3. Ibid, p.344

  4. Ibid

  5. Ibid, p.348

  6. Dancocks, Daniel G. D-Day Dodgers: The Canadians in Italy 1943-1945 (McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, ON, 1991) ISBN 0771025440 p.209

  7. Nicholson, Ibid, p.352

  8. Dancocks, Ibid, p.207

  9. Nicholson, Ibid, pp.355-356

  10. Ibid, p.357

  11. Ibid, p. 358

  12. Ibid

  13. Guthrie, Steve The Sherman in Canadian Service (Service Publications, Ottawa, ON, 2002) ISBN 1-894581-14-8 p.11

  14. Appendix "A", Canadian Military Headquarters Report No. 170 "Operation Timberwolf: The Movement of I Canadian Corps to the Mediterranean, 1943" (Historical Section, Canadian Military Headquarters, 10 Feb 1947). "G1098 Stores" refer to all stores and equipment indicated on the Unit Equipment Form (in military parlance, Army Form G1098) which was the official entitlement of each unit.  "B" Vehicles are primarily unarmoured, or "soft-skin" vehicles, though armoured half-tracks and light reconnaissance cars such as the Humber III and Otter are also included in this category.

  15. Nicholson, Ibid, p.360

  16. Ibid

  17. McKay, Donald A. Gaudeamus Igitur "Therefore Rejoice" (Bunker to Bunker Books, Calgary, AB, 2005) ISBN 1894255534 p.88

  18. Dancocks, Ibid, p.205

  19. Granatstein, Jack The Generals: The Canadian Army's Senior Commanders in the Second World War (Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd., Toronto, ON, 1993) ISBN 0773727302

  20. Dancocks, Ibid, pp.206-207. The matter didn't end there, as Crerar pursued his complaints to the senior Canadian general in the U.K., General Ken Stuart, at that time acting as the 1st Canadian Army commander following McNaughton's resignation. Crerar even suggested to the army's chief psychiatrist that Simonds had "marked egocenticity" and was concerned about his fitness for command. Despite this, Simonds went on to command II Canadian Corps under Crerar in Normandy, and even became acting commander of 1st Canadian Army in Northwest Europe when Crerar fell ill later in the campaign.  Crerar saw to it, however, that immediately after the war, Simonds was not selected for Chief of the General Staff.


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