The 3rd Canadian Division refers to three organizations raised by the
Canadian Army during the 20th Century.
formation so designated was a fully manned and equipped combat division
which operated as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The Division
distinguished itself in several hard fought campaigns, and was disbanded
at the end of the First World War. A second iteration was raised for the
Second World War, and served in II Canadian Corps. A duplicate division
was raised for duty with the Canadian Army Occupation Force in 1945.
This article deals with the First World War formation which served in
the Canadian Corps.
was formed in France in December 1915, and served in France and Flanders
until the Armistice.
The 3rd Division was
created in December 1915 under Major-General M.S. Mercer, a veteran of
the 1st Brigade and Commander of Headquarters Corps Troops. He was a
Canadian as were all three brigade commanders and many of his staff
officers. By the end of 1916, only three major appointments would be
held by Britons (G.S.O. I, G.S.O. II and Brigade Major Artillery). A
number of staff officers and unit commanders had combat experience but
few soldiers or sub-unit leaders had been in the field.1
The 7th Brigade,
formed on 22 December 1915 under Brig.-Gen. A.C. Macdonell,
consisted of one veteran battalion and three units with no field
experience. From the 27th British Division, after a year's
distinguished service in France with the 80th Brigade, came Princess
Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. The Royal Canadian Regiment, at
that time the only Permanent Force battalion, had been employed on
garrison duty in Bermuda for eleven months; it had arrived in France
in November 1915 and trained with the 2nd Brigade. The two remaining
units, the 42nd Battalion (from Montreal) and the 49th (Edmonton),
had both undergone a tour of non-operational duty in France. The 8th
Brigade was organized on 28 December and Colonel Williams, though
still holding the appointment of Adjutant General, was placed in
command with the appropriate rank. It was made. up of the 1st, 2nd,
4th and 5th Battalions, Canadian Mounted Rifles, formed by the
conversion to infantry of the six C.M.R. regiments. The units of the
9th Brigade (Brig.-Gen. F. W. Hill), which joined the division in
February 1916, were the 43rd, 52nd, 58th and 60th Battalions. They
came from Winnipeg, Port Arthur, the Niagara area and Montreal,
respectively, and in the main had reached England in November.
Except in artillery, the 3rd Division was complete by late March
1916. Until the middle of July, when its own gunners arrived, it was
supported by the artillery of the Indian 3rd (Lahore) Division.2
Division originally fought under the command of Major-General M.S.
Mercer, who became the highest ranking Canadian officer killed in action
in the First World War. Brigadier V. A. Williams, commanding the 8th
Brigade, became the highest ranking Canadian officer captured in the
First World War, also at Ypres. Mercer
was replaced by Louis Lipsett, who was also killed in action.
9th Brigade Canadian Field
- 31st Field Battery
- 33rd Field Battery
- 45th Field Battery
- 36th Howitzer Battery
10th Brigade Canadian Field
- 38th Field Battery
- 39th Field Battery
- 40th Field Battery
- 35th Howitzer Battery
- 3rd Division Ammunition
- 3rd Brigade Canadian
- 7th, 8th and 9th
- 3rd Divisional Signal
- 3rd Canadian Pioneer
Battalion. 8 Jan 1916 - May 1917 (Disbanded)
- 123rd Canadian Pioneer
Battalion. Mar 1917 - Jun 1918 (Moved to 3rd Canadian Engineer
Machine Gun Corps
||7th Machine Gun Company
||8th Machine Gun Company
||9th Machine Gun Company
||15th Machine Gun Company
1918, infantry machine gun companies were consolidated into Machine Gun
Battalions, one per division. At first the battalion had three
companies, and in May 1918 this increased to four, with a total
complement of 96 Vickers Guns. The 3rd Canadian Machine Gun Battalion
was formed for the 3rd Division.
is a list of the Militia Regiments in Canada that provided soldiers for
the numbered infantry battalions.
Prewar Regular unit
Canadian Light Infantry
5th Regiment (Royal
Highlanders of Canada)
101st Regiment (Edmonton
||1st Bn Canadian
22nd Saskatchewan Horse
21st Alberta Hussars
|2nd Bn Canadian
30th Regiment (British
21st Alberta Hussars
|4th Bn Canadian
Governor General's Body
9th Mississauga Horse
|5th Bn Canadian
27th Light Horse
79th Cameron Highlanders
|52nd (North Ontario)
96th The Lake Superior
|58th (Central Ontario)
10th Regiment (Royal
|60th (Victoria Rifles)
3rd Regiment (Victoria
Rifles of Canada)
|116th (Ontario County
34th Ontario Regiment
Mount Sorrel. 2-13 Jun 1916.
Flers - Courcelette. 15-22 Sep 1916.
Thiepval. 26-28 Sep 1916.
Le Transloy. 1-18 Oct 1916.
Heights 1 -11 Oct 1916.
La Coulotte. 23 Apr 1917.
Battle of the Scarpe. 3-4 May 1917.
South of the Souchez River. 3-25 Jun 1917.
of Avion. 26-29 Jun 1917.
15-25 Aug 1917.
Passchendaele 26 Oct-10 Nov 1917.
8-11 Aug 1918.
around Damery. 15-17 Aug 1918.
the Scarpe. 26-30 Aug 1918, including the capture of Monchy le Preux.
Nord 27 Sep-1 Oct 1918, including the capture of Bourlon Wood.
Cambrai. 8-9 Oct 1918, including the Capture of Cambrai.
Valenciennes 1-2 Nov 1918.
to Mons 11 Nov 1918.
General M.S. Mercer, CB (24 Dec 1915 - 2 Jun 1916)
General L.J. Lipsett, CB, CMG (16 Jun 1916 - 12 Sep 1918)
General F.O.W. Loomis, CB, CMG, DSO (13 Sep 1918 - 11 Apr 1919)
in mid-1916, the Division adopted a system of coloured Battle Patches
which were worn on both sleeves of the Service Dress jacket as well as
the greatcoat. A rectangle 2 inches tall by 3 inches wide in black was
adopted to distinguish the 3rd Division from other formations of the
Canadian Corps. In short order the colour was changed to French Grey.
Coloured geometric shapes used in combination with the divisional
patch distinguished individual formations, units and sub-units within
the division. The markings were also seen painted on steel helmets,
vehicles and used as road signs. The diagram below is a representative
W.L. Official History of the
Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary
Force 1914-1919 (Queen's Printer Ottawa, ON, 1964)