While Canadian soldiers trained in Great Britain one the things they prepared themselves for was gas or chemical warfare. During the First World War, both sides had used chemical weapons against their enemies, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Fear that this might happen during the Second World War led the Canadian military to train in anti-gas protection. Essential equipment was also distributed to Canadian military personnel in England. First on the list was a gas mask, like the No. 4 Mk. III version (made in November 1943) pictured here. Gas detection kits and medicines were also issued to help detect a chemical weapon (for example, a bomb dropped by an airplane) and help reduce its effects. Soldiers were even issued "war gas report forms" to provide details on gas attacks they had experienced.
While Canadian soldiers trained in Great Britain one the things they prepared themselves for was gas or chemical warfare. During the First World War, both sides had used chemical weapons against their enemies, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Fear that this might happen during the Second World War led the Canadian military to train in anti-gas protection. Essential equipment was also distributed to Canadian military personnel in England. First on the list was a gas mask, like the No. 4 Mk. III version (made in November 1943) pictured here. Gas detection kits and medicines were also issued to help detect a chemical weapon (for example, a bomb dropped by an airplane) and help reduce its effects. Soldiers were even issued "war gas report forms" to provide details on gas attacks they had experienced.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Collection of Anti-gas equipment

A collection of equipment used to protect soldiers from gas warfare. Items used by the Camerons during their time in Great Britain.

Ken Reynolds

Great Britain, UNITED KINGDOM
© The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum


Although among the numerous types of armoured vehicles that the Canadian Army used during the Second World War, the armoured car receives relatively little attention. Used by reconnaissance units to move ahead of larger formations and see what the enemy was doing, armoured cars fulfilled an important role. The vehicle depicted here, painted by Canadian war artist Edward John Hughes, is a Fox Armoured Car. This type of armoured vehicle was developed by Canadians and used by them for training in England and operations in Italy.
Although among the numerous types of armoured vehicles that the Canadian Army used during the Second World War, the armoured car receives relatively little attention. Used by reconnaissance units to move ahead of larger formations and see what the enemy was doing, armoured cars fulfilled an important role. The vehicle depicted here, painted by Canadian war artist Edward John Hughes, is a Fox Armoured Car. This type of armoured vehicle was developed by Canadians and used by them for training in England and operations in Italy.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

In Italy, one of the main obstacles to the Allied advance on Rome was the Gari River, swollen in the spring flood, near Mount Cassino. The river was in clear view of the Germans, armed with machine guns, mortars, and heavy artillery. After three attempts to cross the river failed, the British 8th Army was ordered to take Cassino at all costs. Initially, the plan was to build a Bailey Bridge for the tanks to cross, but a reconnaissance of the area by Lieutenant-Colonel Neroutses of the 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment suggested that a Bailey Bridge would not be practical for the crossing. Neroutses then consulted with Captain Tony Kingsmill, his Light Aid Detachment commander from the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. They developed a plan of two tanks working together to carry and push a bridge across a narrow stretch of the river. The "carrier" tank had its turret removed and a large steel "A" frame, constructed of "I" beam, with four rollers affixed to the top to allow the bridge to move. On this, a 100-foot bailey bridge section was mounted overhanging and attached to a "pusher" tank about eighty feet behind the carrier. Read More
In Italy, one of the main obstacles to the Allied advance on Rome was the Gari River, swollen in the spring flood, near Mount Cassino. The river was in clear view of the Germans, armed with machine guns, mortars, and heavy artillery. After three attempts to cross the river failed, the British 8th Army was ordered to take Cassino at all costs. Initially, the plan was to build a Bailey Bridge for the tanks to cross, but a reconnaissance of the area by Lieutenant-Colonel Neroutses of the 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment suggested that a Bailey Bridge would not be practical for the crossing. Neroutses then consulted with Captain Tony Kingsmill, his Light Aid Detachment commander from the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. They developed a plan of two tanks working together to carry and push a bridge across a narrow stretch of the river. The "carrier" tank had its turret removed and a large steel "A" frame, constructed of "I" beam, with four rollers affixed to the top to allow the bridge to move. On this, a 100-foot bailey bridge section was mounted overhanging and attached to a "pusher" tank about eighty feet behind the carrier. Once properly aligned at the water’s edge, the carrier tank stopped and the pusher tank pushed the bridge onto the carrier’s rollers until the front end of the bridge was well over the river.

The carrier then submerged with the far end of the bridge resting on the opposite bank. At this point, both the driver and the wireless operator escaped and swam to safety. Under intense fire, one troop of tanks managed to cross the bridge before it was damaged.

These tanks destroyed several enemy targets and resolutely defended the bridgehead until the remainder of their troops could join them. The action was successful and helped the British 8th Army take Cassino.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Model of the Plymouth Bridge

Model of the Plymouth Bridge, a mobile "bailey-bridge" constructed during the Italian Campaign to cross the Gari River.

The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) Museum

© The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) Museum


On July 6, 1940, the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and The Royal Canadian Dragoons were ordered to mobilize and form a composite unit called the 1st Canadian Motorcycle Regiment. It was at this time that the Strathconas ceased to be a cavalry unit and said farewell to their horses for the last time. Soldiers in the new motorcycle regiment were equipped with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, most of which had a sidecar. This regiment trained in Calgary and Winnipeg, but never saw action. In late 1940, the mobilization orders were changed and the two regiments were separated: the Lord Strathcona’s Horse became an armoured regiment (tanks) and The Royal Canadian Dragoons formed an armoured car unit.
On July 6, 1940, the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and The Royal Canadian Dragoons were ordered to mobilize and form a composite unit called the 1st Canadian Motorcycle Regiment. It was at this time that the Strathconas ceased to be a cavalry unit and said farewell to their horses for the last time. Soldiers in the new motorcycle regiment were equipped with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, most of which had a sidecar. This regiment trained in Calgary and Winnipeg, but never saw action. In late 1940, the mobilization orders were changed and the two regiments were separated: the Lord Strathcona’s Horse became an armoured regiment (tanks) and The Royal Canadian Dragoons formed an armoured car unit.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Motorcycle Dispatch Troop

Motorcycle Dispatch Troop, Old Stables Building, Currie Barracks, 1940.

Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental Museum
c. 1940
© Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental Museum


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Develop an understanding of the participation and role of Canada’s Army in the World War II
  • Examine the contributions, sacrifices and experiences of individuals who participated in military events during World War II
  • Identify key locations in which Canada’s military operated during World War II
  • Evaluate the weapons and technology used by Canadian soldiers

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