Talk:2nd Canadian Division during World War II

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The reason I only gave this article a "start" assessment is the lack of references. Other than that it looks great. With a few in line references you should think about putting this one up for GA status.--Looper5920 22:57, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Storing for Future Use[edit]


Major General V.W. Odlum[edit]

20 May 1940 - 6 November 1941

Major General Victor Odlum,CB, CMG, DSO, VD was a decorated veteran of the First World War and had previous to his appointment as GOC been the Inspector General of the 2nd Division.[1] By the end of 1941, Canada had begun the process of replacing older soldiers like Odlum with younger men, as they became available and trained.[2] Many of the 1939 originals in the Calgary Highlanders were also replaced as a matter of policy, including Lieutenant Colonel J. Fred Scott.[2]

Major General H.D.G. Crerar[edit]

23 December 1941 - 5 April 1942

Never actually commanded; appointed to temporary command of I Cdn Corps 23 December 1941

Major General Henry Duncan Graham "Harry" Crerar, DSO was an artilleryman who had served in the First World War. He would never actually command the Second Division despite being named its commander in December of 1941. He would go on to command I Canadian Corps,[3] and in August 1944 landed in Normandy as commander of First Canadian Army, to whom the II Canadian Corps and 2nd Canadian Division belonged.

Major General J.H. Roberts[edit]

7 November 1941 - 5 April 1942 Acting Commander

Confirmed in position 6 April 1942 - 12 April 1943

Major General John Hamilton "Ham" Roberts, DSO, MC had won the Military Cross in the First World War as a gunner, and was promoted rapidly after the fall of France. During the evacuation from France in 1940, as commanding officer of 1 Canadian Field Regiment (RCHA) he used his initiative to rescue his entire regiment of field guns from abandonment on the Continent, and was quickly promoted to various staff and command positions before assuming divisional command. He led the division at Dieppe, for which he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order,[4] but in the spring of 1943, after poor showings in formation level exercises by the 2nd Division, he was sent to command reinforcement units.

Major General G.G. Simonds[edit]

13 April 1943 - 28 April 1943

Major General Guy Granville Simonds, CBE was born to a Major of the Royal Artillery in 1903, and upon graduation from Royal Military College elected to join the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. After he left the Second Division, he would serve in Italy and return to command II Canadian Corps in Normandy, the formation to which the Second Canadian Division belonged. Simonds would be regarded, by British officers, Canadian officers, and historians alike, as the greatest commander Canada produced in the Second World War.

Major General E.L.M. Burns[edit]

6 May 1943 - 10 January 1944

Major General Edson Louis Millard "Tommy" Burns, OBE, MC was a veteran of the Great War who had served in signals units, being decorated for bravery under fire. He was also a scholar, who was published in both fiction and non-fiction. Between the wars, he served with the Royal Canadian Engineers. In 1939 he assumed the first of a string of senior staff positions, but was reduced from Brigadier to Colonel in 1941 when a letter to a married woman in Montreal - with whom he was having an affair - was found to contain many frank opinions of senior war leadership in Britain. He assumed an administrative post with the new Canadian Armoured Corps, commanded a brigade in the 4th Division (which he helped create), and eventually was given command of the 2nd Canadian Division. He would leave the division to assume command of I Canadian Corps in Italy where he oversaw some of Canada's greatest military successes in that theatre - the Hitler Line and the Gothic Line.

Major General C. Foulkes[edit]

11 January 1944 - 9 November 1944

Major General Charles Foulkes, CBE was a prewar Permanent Force officer, who became Brigadier, General Staff of First Canadian Army, and assumed command of the Second Canadian Division in January 1944.[5] He left the division to take over I Canadian Corps from E.L.M. Burns, who - despite his tactical successes in the field - was considered not to have the personality required of a corps commander. Foulkes was a rarity among senior commanders in the Canadian Army in World War II in that his background was as an infantry officer.

Major General A.B. Matthews[edit]

10 November 1944 - 6 October 1945 Division disbanded

Major General Albert Bruce Matthews, CBE, DSO, ED was also a gunner, and moreover, had been a Militia officer before the war rather than a full time Permanent Force officer. He commanded a battery of field guns in Toronto, and after Mobilization held positions as battery and later field regiment commander. In January 1943 he was named Commander Royal Artillery of the 1st Canadian Division (Hamilton Roberts had held the exact same appointment earlier in the war). The CRA commanded the divisional artillery (three field regiments, an anti-tank regiment and an anti-aircraft regiment) and served as the GOC's artillery advisor in combat in Sicily and Italy. He returned to the UK and became CCRA (Commander Corps Royal Artillery) of II Canadian Corps - meaning he now commanded the artillery of not just one division, but of all units in the corps (including the artillery of the Second Canadian Division when II Canadian Corps Headquarters moved to Normandy in August 1944).

When Charles Foulkes left for Italy to assume command of I Canadian Corps, Matthews was selected to replace him. Commanders in NW Europe were dubious at first - fearing that the perception would be that artillerymen were favouring each other for top appointments - but Matthews brought a unique perspective to the job of division commander. Canadian doctrine had evolved to be very much artillery based in any event, and the division benefited from having a gunner in command.

other stored stuff[edit]

Royal visit[edit]

On 27 March 1941 came a Royal Visit, described as a "tonic" to morale in the division.

5th Canadian Inf. Bde. proceeded to HORNLEY COMMON and formed up in a concentration area to be inspected by their Majesties King George and Queen Elizabeth. The King and Queen seemed to be very pleased with the turn out of the Bttn. The Carriers demonstrated their ability to go into action quickly. Each Company (of The Calgary Highlanders) did a different type of training while the band marched up and down the road to the skirl of the pipes. The officers and men of the unit feel highly honoured to have been inspected by their Majesties.[6]


General Odlum expressed a desire to revive the blue battle patches worn in World War I as early as September 1940 and these patches were adopted in April 1941. These battle patches designated the various battalions within the division through the use of coloured geometric shapes atop the blue rectangular division patch; the same system that had been used in the Great War.

The Division also adopted a gold maple leaf on blue background as its vehicle insignia. Individual units came to be denoted by unit signs which were consistent from division to division. A C-II device (pronounced "See-Too") was incorporated in the division sign which appears to have been phased out by 1944. This device was a matter of some controversy; officers in the division wore a gold-wire C-II on their division patch when in Service Dress; General McNaughton later suggested this was an "unfortunate precedent" when other divisions desired similar devices on their patches. The C-II device has been worn in a similar fashion by officers of the 2nd Canadian Division in the First World War.

Victory campaign[edit]

I see that one of the headings has been changed to the above. I don't recognise it as one of the official campaign titles - even the Juno beach article doesn't use it. Where did it spring from (besides the book title). It sounds a bit triumphal / POV? Stephen Kirrage talk - contribs 07:43, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Now hold on![edit]

I deleted "rather than in a series of diversionary "holding attacks" & "21st Army Group then decided the primary task of the newly-activated First Canadian Army would be to pin down German formations south of Caen, diverting attention from the highly successful American breakout in the west.[7]" because this is self-serving Monty fiction, & there's no place for it here. TREKphiler hit me ♠ 08:26 & 08:30, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Shoot me kangaroo down, sport[edit]

"1st mechanized infantry"? I really doubt it, since the Germans had used HTs long before... And am I wrong thinking 272nd Grenadier Infantry Division =272d Pzgrenadier? TREKphiler hit me ♠ 09:07, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

I'll check the mechanized infantry bit with my references. As for the 272nd, it was technically the 272nd Infantry Division (Germany), although many of my sources on the conflicts around verrieres (particularly Roman Jarymowycz and Terry Copp) refer to it as the "272nd Grenadier Infantry Division", while the division that was formed from the wreckage of it was the 272nd Volksgrenadier Division (Germany). In addition, the organization of a grenadier-infantry division VS a panzergrenadier division differed, as most PzGren divisions had 2 infantry battalions and 2 panzer battalions, whereas the 272nd had 3 infantry battalions and 1 tank battalion. I'll do a bit more digging into this. Cam (Chat) 22:30, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. When you find it, will you message my talk with your sources? I'm always looking for good ones. TREKphiler hit me ♠ 00:05, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Just a note, the only thing I can find for the 272. Grenadier is mention of a Panzerjäger battalion, and that is specified as 12 towed 75-mm antitank guns (the unit was apparently missing any self-propelled antitank vehicles), this equipment quote is dated 25 May 1944. Also found this "According to an organization chart for 3 August 19446 minor changes had occurred. The Pz.Jäg.Abt. had been expanded by the addition of a Flak company with ten 8,8 cm Flak guns, one platoon with three towed 7,5 cm AT guns and one platoon with three SP 7,5 cm AT guns. It seems however that the organization chart depicts authorized organization, not actual for the date indicated. There are no indications in the records that any SP 7,5 cm AT guns were sent to the division.7" - this from Zetterling's OOB page for Normandy. Cheers, --W. B. Wilson (talk) 03:56, 24 October 2008 (UTC)


Apologies for the delay (busy busy busy!). I'll post comments, questions etc below. EyeSerenetalk 10:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)


  • I've delinked the dates per MOS:UNLINKDATES (it's a recent change!). The other Wikilinks could do with going over too - current practice, at FA at least, is to include only high-value links, so, for example, it might be feasible to delink things like the names of countries and places. Your thoughts?
  • In places the article refers to eg "1st Canadian Division" rather than "the 1st Canadian Division". This sometimes comes over as grammatically awkward. I realise that sometimes it's referring to the division's 'proper' name, but I wonder if there's a consistent way we can indicate this (maybe by using "First Division" rather than "1st Division"?)
  • I've added in a few [citation needed] tags as I've gone along - I hope you don't mind.


  • I'll leave this until last - usually easier that way, as it may need to reflect changes in the article. Done

Early organisation[edit]

  • I've tabulated the 2nd Div organisation, but have a couple of issues:
    • Sourcing: do we have a source for the information?
    • It seems slightly odd to only have this information for the division at the start of the war, when we are told within a few sentences that by 1940 it changed. Perhaps it might be worth including updated organisational tables in significant places elsewhere in the article? (This could involve the rather listy ORBAT at the end). Alternatively, it could be hived off into a separate article, maybe with the eventual aim of including a similar table for the 1st Div, and the multiple tables organised by date that reflect the various changes in organisations during the war. I'm not sure what you'd prefer though, or if you want to leave it as-is. Addendum: I've had a play with a table for the ORBAT for 1944 anyway, trying to shrink the section a little. Feel free to make alterations etc, and we need sources for that info too!.

Garrison duties and reorganization[edit]

  • The Churchill quotation needs an explicit source, and "(commanding Canadian troops in the UK)" should be in square brackets if it's something that's been added in clarification, which I get the impression it might be...

Changes in organization[edit]

  • "Due to equipment shortages, it was often difficult to adequately supply newly arrived divisions in England." Presumably this was in the aftermath of Dunkirk - can we include and cite this?
  • Quite a few {{fact}} tags added (for which I apologise!). I'm copyediting with FA in mind, so if you find them excessive, please take them back out ;)
  • I made various heading and organisational tweaks at this point, so hopefully everything above is not too confusing :P

Battle of the Scheldt[edit]

  • Added additional content (and citation tags) - I'll source these later ;)
  • Do we have a date for the start of 2nd Div's move on the Albert Canal?

North of the Rhine (March–May 1945)[edit]

  • I changed 'disbanded' to 'stood down' in the last sentence (trying to avoid repetition of 'disbanded'). I'm aware there are semantic differences, so do you think this is ok?

Being ex-military, I can say that these are two different things. If a unit is disbanded, it ceases to exist as a unit. If it "stands down," it can simply be taken off the line, but it continues to exist. That seems to me to be more than a "semantic" difference. Or is that the dreaded "original research?"

Terry J. Carter (talk) 03:23, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Move suggestion / A-class re-appraisal[edit]

G'day, this article is currently undergoing a Milhist A-class re-appraisal: Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Assessment/2nd Canadian Infantry Division. As part of this, there is a proposal to move the article to 2nd Canadian Division during World War II to make it clearer that it is a child article of the broader 2nd Canadian Division article and to make it more consistent with the approaches of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, and 4th Canadian Infantry Division articles, which redirect back to the parent article. If anyone has an opinion on whether this article meets the Milhist A-class criteria, and/or about the proposed move, please join the discussion. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 03:21, 26 November 2016 (UTC)

This move has been completed now. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 23:13, 3 December 2016 (UTC)
    • ^ Copp, p. 21
    • ^ a b Copp, p. 23
    • ^ Copp, p. 24
    • ^ Copp, p. 32
    • ^ Copp, p. 34
    • ^ Calgary Highlanders' War Diary
    • ^ Bercuson, p. 227