When the war broke out in August 1914, Canada only held 16,796 rifles on hand.  As Canadians rushed to recruiting stations in staggering numbers to enlist, the Department of Militia and Defence was confronted with the overwhelming challenge of training new recruits without a sufficient amount of rifles. In response, CEF units in Canada were often issued with obsolete weapons.
The 1st Canadian Division fought two costly engagements in the spring of 1915, the 2nd Battle of Ypres and Festubert, which resulted in a combined loss of over 8 000 killed and wounded in the space of two months. Battalions lost up to three quarters of their fighting strength in a single engagement, with the PPCLI being reduced to just 150 men after they held the line at Frezenberg in early May. At this point, the division was moved to the relatively quiet front between Ploegsteert and Messines, where they would spend the summer months until September 1915 holding the lines. Continue reading “A well deserved rest: The 1st Canadian Division in the summer of 1915”