First Canadian Army

The First Canadian Army was an army of some 170 000 men organized in 2 corps (5 divisions and 2 armoured brigades) formed overseas in 1942 under Lieutenant-General A.G.L. MCNAUGHTON.

Normandy Landing
View looking east along 'Nan White' Beach, showing personnel of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade landing from LCI(L) 299 of the 2nd Canadian (262nd RN) Flotilla on D-Day.(photo by G. Milne, courtesy Library and Archives Canada, PA-137013).
Henry Duncan Graham Crerar, army officer
Crerar was appointed to command of I Canadian Corps in the UK; he took that formation to Italy in November 1943 (courtesy DND/Library and Archives Canada/PA-166584).

The First Canadian Army was an army of some 170 000 men organized in 2 corps (5 divisions and 2 armoured brigades) formed overseas in 1942 under Lieutenant-General A.G.L. McNaughton. McNaughton's aim was to keep the Canadian Army together to lead the cross-channel assault on northwest Europe; instead, the Canadian government dispatched I Canadian Corps from McNaughton's command to serve in the Italian campaign in 1943 so that Canadian troops could see action. Because the existence of an identifiably Canadian army was important at home, Allied formations were added to the First Canadian Army to keep it up to strength.

Accordingly, when the First Canadian Army (now commanded by Lieutenant-General H.D.G. Crerar) went into battle on the left flank in France, Belgium and Holland, clearing the Channel coast after the Normandy Invasion, it had more Allied than Canadian troops. The balance was redressed in March 1945 following the Rhineland campaign, when the Canadians in Italy rejoined First Canadian Army for the Liberation of Holland. See also Battle of Ortona; Second World War (WWII).


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