Talk:Canadian Expeditionary Force

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Military history (Rated C-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
C This article has been rated as C-Class on the quality assessment scale.
WikiProject Canada / History / Military (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Canada, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Canada on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject History of Canada.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the joint Canadian military and military history task force


Information on conscription and the demographics of the CEF should be separate. Any information of the demographics should be expanded upon so that it is more than just a bare listing of different groups. Dwp13 20:46, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

If you want to see the information in two seperate paragraphs, that's fair enough, but coming along every few days to delete my contribution is counterproductive. This article happens to be a "stub," which means that it is in need of expansion; there is much that still needs to be written about the CEF, so please feel free to add any information that you feel is relevant. Personally, I feel that it is important that the diverse ethnic make-up of the CEF is significant, and would like to see it included. Kscheffler 23:31, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

I seek only to help create an informative article on the CEF. Instead of being “counterproductive” I rather think I was being “bold” with my editing as suggested by Wikipedia. I shall continue to do so as I see fit. However, once you reverted my edit I realized that you had your heart set on what you’ve written so that’s why I started this discussion so that we could attempt to reach a consensus. I trust that you will find this to be productive enough. As for the article, I agree that information on the demographics of the CEF would be interesting. Stating that there are “large numbers” some groups and “to a lesser extant” others isn’t very informative at all in my opinion. I still seek to fine tune the separation of the info on the volunteer nature of the CEF and its demographics. Dwp13 19:10, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure that the paragraph as it is now really adds anything. It just lists a bunch of enthnicities. Everyone knows there are various types of hyphenated Canadians and, in a group as large as the CEF, I would imagine that there would have been at least one of each. It would be interesting if there were figures or percentages but as it is now it seems to just say that the CEF was composed of Canadians. Cjrother 02:28, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

The paragraph in its current state is simply meant to illustrate in a general fashion that the CEF had much ethnic diversity. Yes it is very basic, but the is that someone will come along and expand on it in an appropriate manner. As far as I know, there has not been a study on the ethnic make up of the CEF so using terms like "large numbers" is the best that can be done for the time being. Kscheffler 07:25, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

If there have been no studies completed how do you know that there were "large numbers"?

Well, Dwp13, I think it's fairly safe to say for the time being that there were "large numbers" of Scots, Irish, Francophones and Americans in the CEF.Kscheffler 17:50, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

The statement that "the CEF had much ethnic diversity" is patently false. Every major Canadian historian from Granatstein to Morton has confirmed that two-thirds of the CEF were British-born and recent arrivals to Canada. An article by Dr. Serge Diflinger at [1] underscores this important fact in light of the very light numbers of French Canadians (1,000) in the first division who offered to enlist. While there were obviously soldiers from a variety of backgrounds, it was the British-born who formed most of the Canadian Corps. Lumping the Scots and Irish in with French Canadians and Americans in this context is absurd. This information about the CEF is very important, not only to accurately present the nature of the Dominion of Canada at the time, but to provide a context to the divisive issue of conscription. The Canadian Corps, like the Australian Corps, formed a part of the First British Army. We do a disservice to those who fought in the Canadian Expeditionary Force by not recognising the fact of the British reality of Canada at the time as well as the British reality of the force. user: Pidd

The CEF did have much ethnic diversity, so I'm not sure how making this claim is "patently false"; the paragraph doesn't furthermore downplay the primary role that British-born subjects played in the CEF, rather is an attempt to underscore the point that Canada was becoming more ethnically diverse, and that these various ethnic group contributed to the war effort, something which in my opinion seems to be largely ignored. Don't quite see how this is a disservice to anyone.
It should be pointed out, however, that your statement that "every major Canadian historian from Granatstein to Morton has confirmed..." is falacious. Not every major Canadian historian has studied the ethnic make-up of the CEF. I think that you're just throwing these names in here because these two historians happen to be cited in Diflinger's essay. As far as I know, neither has undertaken an exhaustive study of CEF enlistment records, and so the accuracy of their claims depends largely on the reliability of their sources.
Diflinger's article itself seems to have a few inaccuracies, most notably his assertion that there were two "Danish" battalions in the CEF. They were in fact Scandinavian, and the majority of the men who enlisted with both appear to have been Swedes or men claiming to have been born in Sweden (ie. German-born Canadians). (This from Kscheffler (talk · contribs))

As was pointed out, the British-born population of Canada at the start of the war was 10%. The British-born population of Canada in 1920 was 50%. If anything, Canada was NOT becoming more ethnically diverse but more and more British and largely remained so until the new immigration policies of the Liberal governments of the '60's and '70's. To use the current mythology of Canada as some great multi-cultural society at the time of the First World War is ridiculous and false. Of course there were other ethnic groups in Canada but, in terms of numbers, the visiblity of the Canadian population was either "British" (born here or in the UK) or "French".

As for the credibility of the works of Desmond Morton and Jack Granatstein you obviously haven't read them or you wouldn't have made your rude assertion. I have read them. I am a former teacher of history and retired officer from the Army. This article on the CEF must be corrected and more fully supported but to simply post an opinion about the growth of cultural diversity and the lumping in of ethnic groups as if they were all equally significant to the make-up of the CEF without any references is dishonest. At least the historical references that I have used have a basis in research. I have not put in any changes as yet but will as time permits. pidd 04:03, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Blatant POV in:[edit]

"Despite systemic racism, a significant contribution was also made by First Nations peoples and Afro-Canadians."

This also apparently contradicts the previous couple of lines. These list the different races and ethnic groups/nationalitites which served with the Canadian armed forces under British Imperial command! Yet there was systemic racism? This really ought to be corroborated with something resembling evidence. Joel Howells (joelhowells)(@)(hotmail).(com) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .
It's no big secret that racism was the norm in Canadian society during that period and that First Nations peoples and Afro-Canadians, among others, were considered second-class citizens. Despite this, members of both of those communities served in the CEF. Afro-Canadians were barred from serving in combat units (although a few apparently did) and instead had to serve in the No. 2 Construction Battalion. Members of the First Nations were given a little more leeway, and were recruited into many combat units, being sought after in many cases because they were considered to be good shots. But they continued to face discrimination, and following their service these First Nations veterans were often unjustly treated by the government the fought for.Kscheffler 06:03, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
This sentence has been bothering me for a while as well. Firstly the word "systemic" to me implies that the racism was offical policy. I don't know whether it was official or not (in which case the word "widespread" might be better) but if it was we could probably use a reference. Secondly, how could black soldiers have made a "significant contribution" if they were restricted to serving in a single construction battalion? Cjrother 18:34, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Racism was official policy. There is an article on systemic racism which may clear things up a bit for you. Interesting that you'd question the existence of systemic racism in Canada at that time, but then acknowledge that black were "restricted" to serving in a construction battalion.Kscheffler 03:19, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I've now read the systemic racism article and I'm afraid I'm not much clearer on the meaning of the term. The article seems to imply that an institution doesn't need to have racist policies in order to have systemic racism. In that case I would probably change the word systemic to widespread in the article to elimanate confusion. (Hopefully this clarifies my point - I wasn't questioning the existence of racism in 1910s' Canada, just whether or not it was official policy) Cjrother 20:43, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
The article is quite clear on what is meant by systemic (institutional) racism and I'm not sure how it's existence during that time period can be disputed since the business, political and educational systems in Canada were dominated by white men. Using the term "widespread racism" suggests that while many people in Canada at the time were racist, Canada was still a nation open to peoples of the world and all ethnic minorities legally had the same rights and freedoms. That was hardly the case. When the Canadian government sought settlers for the prairies (after the Indians had been subdued and shunted away to reserves, let's not forget) they looked to Europe; at the same time the arrival of people from Asia caused widespread hysteria and governments on all levels workd to restrict or deny entry, and if they did enter, restrict and deny them their rights (Asians, for instance, could not vote until the late 1940's); visible minorities were denied entry into educational institutions, into the business world, and government and politics. This just does not happen in a society if the racism is not systemic. Kscheffler 02:23, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
You need to offer proof that is was "official policy" not just declare that it was so. Do you have a reference?Michael Dorosh 03:36, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
You're actually asking for "proof" that racism was official policy during this time period? Very interesting. It's not exactly a declaration on my part, rather a statement of an excepted fact (well, to most at least) and as such doesn't really need to be referenced. There are a number of studies that have been written on the history of race relations and the government's racial policies in this country, and most libraries should have a reasonable selection with which one can derive a better understanding of this issue. Two books that may be of particular interest are: White Canada Forever and Colour-Coded. Kscheffler 06:39, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I'm actually asking for "proof" that racism was official policy. This is an encyclopedia, not "a website about stuff that Kscheffler knows about and expects you to as well." I'm not interested in reading the books in question, I'm interested in you asserting your claim by using them to provide proper references in the article - just like every other wikipedia editor is expected to do in every single other wikipedia article. This isn't about educating me, it's about you standing behind your claim and improving the article through verifiable sources - just like everybody else.Michael Dorosh 20:50, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
You asked for proof, you got proof, but the fact of the matter is that indisputable facts such as systemic racism existing in Canada during this period don't need to be referenced or "verified". This has nothing to do with me trying espouse what I "expect" others to know "as well". I simply made a factual statement and you suddenly came here and started fomenting about something in which you've now essentially claimed have little knowledge or interest ("I'm not interested in reading the books in question"). This seems to be about more than simply trying to get me to live up to wikipedia's standards. Kscheffler 02:23, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
So are you saying that those two books explicitly state that it was official policy that blacks were only allowed to serve in No 2 Construction Bat? Cjrother 20:43, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
No, I provided those two titles in response to a request to "prove" that systemic racism existed in Canada during that time period. The topic of why blacks were initially (with a very, very few exceptions) barred from serving in the CEF but later allowed to enlist in a segregated non-combat battalion is dealt with in books about that unit. Kscheffler 02:23, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Good points. I'm not a CEF expert but the question can be raised at the CEF Study Group; perhaps they might like to participate. I'll ask. Segregtion was official policy in the US military, it may have been in Canada but I'll like for a source. You're correct that if it is was not official policy, it can not be described as "systemic". Good call.Michael Dorosh 19:26, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

That's enough. It's been six years since this bias has been permitted to be displayed without any reference or evidence. If there was racism in Canada then, just as there is in every age, it belongs in another category.pidd (talk) 16:19, 13 September 2012 (UTC)


Only 50 percent of the CEF was British born by 1917; Morton confirms this in WHEN YOUR NUMBER'S UP.Michael Dorosh 17:00, 25 July 2006 (UTC) Only? Do you not think that that is significant? I have recorded the determination of the ethnicity concluded by historian Dr. Serge Durflinger at the Canadian War Museum and that concurs with both Morton and Granatstein and anyone who takes some time to review the records. He also underscores that two-thirds of the First Division were British-born. Surely, if fifty percent or two-thirds of this country's army consisted of men born in France or some other place I doubt it would so easily be dismissed.User:Piddingworth 16:40, 18 March 2007 (UTC) Dude - "only" is in reference to your claim that the figure was 67%. 50 is less than 67, QED only. 00:23, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Equipment details[edit]

Is all the information re: guns, trucks, knives, uniforms etc. really necessary for the article? BC 20:11, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

It looks horrible. I'm for removing it also. (talk) 21:23, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

109th Battalion, CEF[edit]

I've just redirected the above article here. Text was as follows:

The 109th Battalion CEF was a unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the men of which saw active service during World War One.

The Battalion was formed from volunteers from the Ontario counties of Victoria and Haliburton. It was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J.J Fee and headquarted in the town of Lindsay prior to embarkation.

By the spring of 1916 the Battalion had reached a strength of 1050 men and was embarked for England. On arrival in London the Battalion strength was reallocated as reinforcements to replace the dead in the 20th, 21st, 28th and 124th Battalions.

It was an orphan in need of love. Maybe some from here can be lavished upon it. Please feel free to undo the redirect and take it under your wing. Hiding T 20:43, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Name of Force[edit]

I see from the referenced enrollment documents for some of the soldiers that it was for the "Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force"; e.g. There should probably be some mention of this name in the article. I hesitate to do it myself because I lack sufficient background in the material to put the name variation in proper historical context. Eclecticology (talk) 20:26, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

NPOV, or Tell it to the Marines[edit]

"...the Canadian Corps was regarded by friend and foe alike as the most effective Allied military formation on the Western Front."

Oh, really? The United States Marine Corps has been known to make the same claim. It's the kind of chauvinist bull-byproduct that should be left back in the barrooms that spawned it. This statement (and the like of its ilk) is not only inherently NPOV, it's unfactual fanboy puffery.

We are not spawning opinions here, folks; that goes into a blog or op-ed page somewhere else. This is an encyclopedia where we deal in fact.

Georgejdorner (talk) 23:42, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

CEF or Canadian Corps?[edit]

This article conflates the CEF with the Canadian Corps. The Canadian Corps was a formation within the CEF. (talk) 14:31, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

You are right, it's excessively focused on the Canadian Corps. I will try some quick improvements. Ultimately I think a good structure for this article would have these headings: Canadian Corps, Canadian Cavalry Brigade, Canadian Independent Force, Reserves and training organization, Recruiting organization, Siberian Expedition. Indefatigable (talk) 15:39, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

"storm troopers"[edit]

The Germans went so far as to call them "storm troopers"[2] for their great combat efficiency.

The source says they were called that "because they came on like a storm", not necessarily because of great efficiency. In general this seems either questionable or misleading. "Sturmtruppen" and "Stoßtruppen" are general terms used by the Germans for both their own and enemy troops. It's a general description of the combat role of a unit, not any special nickname or "award". "Sturm" is the German word for "assault" (but can also mean and probably originally derived from the weather phenomenon "storm"), like "Sturmgewehr" is "assault rifle". This is probably a similar NPOV brought up in an older discussion: Talk:Canadian_Expeditionary_Force#NPOV.2C_or_Tell_it_to_the_Marines — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:52, 24 October 2014 (UTC)