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In Depth

First World War

First World War Facts

Last Updated August 16, 2006

Canada in the war at a glance:

Aug. 4, 1914 - First World War begins when Great Britain declares war on Germany. Canada automatically joins the war as a part of the British Empire.

Oct. 14, 1914 - First contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force arrives in Britain.

April 24, 1915 - Poison gas first used against Canadians at St. Julien.

May 8, 1915 - Lt.-Col. John McCrae writes In Flanders Fields.

July 1, 1916 - Royal Newfoundland Regiment takes heavy casualties in the Battle of the Somme.

April 9, 1917 - Battle of Vimy Ridge begins.

Aug. 29, 1917 - Conscription becomes law in Canada.

Dec. 6, 1917 - Halifax explosion.

Aug. 8, 1918 - Battle of Amiens. The period that came to be known as "Canada's Hundred Days" begins.

Nov. 11, 1918 - An armistice ends the First World War.

Aug. 17, 2006 - Twenty-three Canadian First World War soldiers who were executed for cowardice or desertion during the conflict are given posthumous pardons on moral grounds by the British government. They were a part of a group of 306 soldiers who were shot for cowardice or desertion, sometimes after hurried court martial hearings.

The posthumously pardoned soldiers:

  • Sgt.W. Alexander
  • Pte. C. Laliberte
  • L/Bdr. F.S. Arnold
  • Pte. W.N. Ling
  • Pte. F. Auger
  • Pte. H.E.J. Lodge
  • Pte. H.G. Carter
  • Pte. T.L. Moles
  • Pte. G. Comte
  • Pte. E. Perry
  • Pte. A.C. Dagesse
  • Pte. E.J. Reynolds
  • Pte. L. Delisle
  • Pte. C. Welsh
  • Pte. E. Fairburn
  • Pte. J.H. Wilson
  • Pte. S. McD. Fowles
  • Pte. E. Young
  • Pte. J.M. Higgins
  • Pte. J.W. Roberts
  • Pte. H.H. Kerr
  • Pte. D. Sinizki
  • Pte. J. Lalancette

Canadian Forces:

  • Total enlisted: 595,000
  • Total served overseas: 418,000

Canadian military casualties:

  • Total deaths: 60, 383 (includes killed in action, died of wounds and died of disease)
  • Total wounded: 155,799
  • Prisoners of war: 4,671

Canadian civilian casualties:

  • In the Halifax explosion, on Dec. 6, 1917, 1,630 people were killed. About 9,000 were injured.

More on the First World War:

  • Total estimated military deaths: 8,300,000
  • Total estimated military "maimed for life": 7,000,000
  • Total estimated civilian deaths: 8,000,000 (does not include influenza)

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