Canadian Corps (World War II)

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Canadian Corps
Active 1940–42
Country  Canada
Branch  Canadian Army
Type Corps
Role To help defend England against the threat of German invasion from occupied France.
Size Two infantry divisions
Engagements World War II
Andrew McNaughton
George Pearkes
Harry Crerar

The unnumbered Canadian Corps was the first corps-level military formation established by the Canadian Army during the Second World War between late 1940 and mid-1942. A four-division Canadian Corps had existed during the First World War. However, during World War II Canada's military contribution was to increase to the scale of a five-division, two-corps army and the formation was eventually redesignated as I Canadian Corps on April 6 1942.

Formation and history[edit]

The Canadian Corps became effective in the United Kingdom on December 24, 1940. It was formed by renaming the existing Anglo-Canadian VII Corps.[1] The 1st Canadian Infantry Division had already been sent across the Atlantic between December 1939 and early 1940, and had been attached to VII Corps to help defend southern England against the threat of German invasion from occupied France. However, the number of Canadian troops in the United Kingdom had increased significantly with the staged arrival, over the second half of 1940, of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. As a result, the formation of a separate Canadian Corps was deemed advisable to accommodate and clearly highlight the growing military contribution from Canada.[2] It was based at Headley Court in Surrey.[3]

Canadian troops in England, 1942

British staff officers in the new Canadian Corps were replaced gradually with Canadians as trained replacements became available. Similarly, British units in the corps were gradually replaced with Canadian units. The Canadian Corps was redesignated I Canadian Corps on April 6, 1942, when the growing size of Canada's overseas expeditionary force in the United Kingdom required the formation of the First Canadian Army.[4]

Commanding officers[edit]

The Canadian Corps was commanded initially by Lieutenant-General Andrew McNaughton (December 1940 to December 1941), who had previously commanded VII Corps. From November–December 1941 Major General George Pearkes was asked to assume command of the Canadian Corps, taking the place of Andrew McNaughton who was on an extended leave. Lieutenant-General Harry Crerar assumed command from December 23, 1941 to April 6, 1942.[5]


  1. ^ "I Canadian Corps: History". Orders of Battle. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Historical Section of the General Staff 1944, pp. 12–16.
  3. ^ "On Guard in Britain, 1940-1941". The Department of National Defense, Government of Canada. Retrieved 13 February 2016. 
  4. ^ Historical Section of the General Staff 1944, pp. 16–17.
  5. ^ "I Canadian Corps: Appointments". Orders of Battle. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  • Historical Section of the General Staff, Canadian Military Headquarters in Great Britain (1944). The Canadians in Britain 1939–1944. Ottawa, Canada: King's Printer. OCLC 61602259. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Byers, A. R. (ed.) (1986). The Canadians at War 1939–45 (2nd ed.). Montreal: The Reader's Digest Association (Canada). ISBN 0-88850-145-5. 
  • Granatstein, J. L. (1993). The Generals: The Canadian Army's Senior Commanders in the Second World War. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing. ISBN 0-7737-2739-6. 
  • Stacey, C. P. (1948). The Canadian Army 1939–1945: An Official Historical Summary. Ottawa: Minister of National Defence, King's Printer. OCLC 2144853. 

External links[edit]