Canadians on the Somme, 1916

The Neglected Campaign

William F. Stewart

This book examines the Canadian experience on the Somme 1916, focussing on how they fought and why they battled in the manner they did.
Publication date:
August 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
77 b/w pictures, 6 b/w diags, 32 colour maps, 12 tables
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781911512950

Dimensions : 234 X 156 mm
This book is available


• The first detailed campaign account of the Canadian experience on the Somme in 1916. Unlike the flood of books on the British, Australian, New Zealand and South African campaign, this the only volume devoted to describing and analyzing the Canadian battles on the Somme
• The volume covers the middle and late period of the Somme which tends to get short shrift in most accounts of the Somme. This was a period of changing tactics and approaches as the Germans poured in more resources and the campaign was shaped by the changing weather
• The volume examines the campaign down to battalion level how the interplay of tactics, technology, command approaches, artillery, aviation, signals, and logistics affected how the Canadians fought--a level of detail typically not discussed in Somme accounts
• This volume reveals the horrendous cost of the campaign but also its importance in transforming the Canadian Corps into the shock force of 1917 and 1918

Ordered lines of heavily laden soldiers with rifles at ‘high port' trudging through mud against uncut barbed wire under heavy machine gun fire is the enduring view of the Somme 1916. What makes Canada's Somme campaign so difficult to characterise was at times this was true, but so were times Canadians advanced at speed over dry ground through smashed German defences. Over the course of 80 days, they encountered all types of weather, ground conditions, defences, and defenders. They achieved stirring victories, and suffered staggering defeats. Thus, Canada's Somme experience was not a simple binary of either victory or defeat, but both and most combinations between. These battles do not lend themselves to grand narratives and sweeping accounts of triumph over great odds. This perspective contributes to the absence of detailed operational studies devoted to Canada's military contribution to the Somme campaign. Resulting in 24,029 casualties, the Somme was the second longest and costliest campaign of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. It represents a critical inflection point in the Dominion's conduct of the war as all spheres of its military effort were impacted by its effects. The corps, however, demonstrated sufficient potential that General Sir Douglas Haig assigned the Canadian Corps the crucial role of seizing Vimy Ridge during the next major British offensive. Nevertheless, Canada's campaign remains a neglected aspect of the Somme campaign with no study devoted to its course. This volume addresses this gap in the available literature by examining the Canadian experience at the operational and tactical level. Its primary focus is on how the Canadians fought and why they battled in the manner they did. Focusing on a single corps brings a perspective on aspects of the campaign that are washed out in the general narratives. This allows for a finer grain examination of diverse topics, such as operations, command and control, and tactics. The period the Canadians served also receives less coverage in general campaign accounts, and it witnessed a set of significant changes in operations as both sides adjusted their tactics. Illustrated with numerous maps and images, 'The Canadians on the Somme' is Bill Stewart's second book.


This brilliant book, published around the 100th anniversary of Passchendaele, reminds us that we were not alone in facing the Germans in WW1, but that there were also troops from various of our commonwealth countries.
Books Monthly

There is a clear analysis of actions throughout the book; the final section, ‘Assessment', is, quite simply, a masterpiece which cannot be recommended highly enough.
Stand to!

This is a superb, highly-detailed account.
WW1 Revisited

Supplemented by 79 photographs and 33 maps, this well-written and very detailed narrative properly recognizes the sacrifice and determination of Canadians who fought in 1916.
Bulletin MHS