1918 > History

Photo of RCA, 1916.

The First World War 1914-1918

In early 1915, the Canadians joined the British in the trenches of France and Belgium. Canadians participated in battles across the Western Front.

The Canadian Artillery directed bombardments against trenches, machine gun deployments, and dugouts. Lt-Col A. G. L. McNaughton led in the development of counter-battery techniques to target enemy guns.

In 1916, Canada had four divisions with hundreds of guns. Brigadier E. W. B. "Dinky" Morrison commanded the Artillery. The main field guns included the QF 13 Pounder with RCHA, and the QF 18 Pounder and the 4.5 Inch Howitzer with the RCA.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, from 9 to 12 April 1917, set a new standard for artillery support to deal with strong enemy positions and counterattacks. The creeping barrage also evolved to protect advancing troops. These developments helped Canadians win the battle, which had eluded the British and the French.

In the spring of 1918, the Germans made one last effort to break the stalemate in Europe. After some initial success, the Spring Offensive began to falter against Allied resistance.

During the Last Hundred Days, the Allies were on the offensive to defeat Germany and end the war. Canadian Gunners operated field, horse-artillery and anti-aircraft guns. The fighting stopped with the defeat of Germany and the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

During WW1, Canadian Gunners supported the infantry at all costs. From 1914-1918, more than six hundred thousand joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Over sixty thousand gave their lives. The wounded amounted to one hundred and seventy thousand.

Two Canadian field batteries served in the North Russia Intervention (1918-1919). Canada also placed Garrison Artillery on the Island of St. Lucia in the British West Indies (1915-1919).

Photo of RCA uniform, circa 1918.

The Interwar Period 1919-1939

Canada's Permanent Force shrunk during the interwar period. The Permanent Force represented the RCHA Brigade (A, B and C Batteries), a medium battery, coastal batteries, and artillery schools.

The Reserve Army was small but active during the interwar period. The Royal Regiment started the process of going mechanized. The 3rd Medium Battery, RCA, was the first unit mechanized, receiving four 6-wheeled Leyland tractors in 1929.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the RCHA musical horse drive was famous. Four 6-horse teams, with their guns and limbers, galloped through a maze of patterns. Major-General J. H. Roberts led the last musical horse drive in Winnipeg in 1933.

Defence spending increased during the 1930s, but not at a rapid pace. It was not until the late 1930s that Canada started to rearm.