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North West Europe 1944 - 1947:

Canadian Armoured Formations

In the North West Europe campaign of 1944 and 1945, Canada provided the largest contingent of troops from any country within the British Empire. From D-Day in June 1944, one armoured division and one armoured brigade fought under the command of the 1 Canadian Army. In 1945, at the request of the Canadian government, they were joined by the armoured division and armoured brigade that had fought in the Italian campaign.

DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS (pdfs)

» 4 Canadian Armoured Division (1944-45)
» 5 Canadian Armoured Division (1945)
» 1 Canadian Armoured Brigade (1945)
» 2 Canadian Armoured Brigade (1944-45)

The 4 Canadian Armoured Division was formed in Canada by the conversion of the 4 Infantry Division. The raising of the 4 Canadian Infantry Division was authorised on 27 May 1940, however, it was not established until 10 June 1941 at Camp Debart in Nova Scotia. The formal date of conversion to an armoured division was on 26 January 1942. It arrived in the United Kingdom in October 1942. The division arrived in Normandy on 31 July 1944 and came under command of II Canadian Corps. The first battle it was involved in was Operation Totalize in the area to the north of Falaise. It was also involved in operations at Chambois, the crossing of the River Seine, and clearing the Somme area of Belgium. It was then allowed to rest and reorganize. The division then moved up to the River Scheldt. In October and November 1944, the division advanced north from Antwerp, clearing Bergen op Zoom. It also participated in the Battle of the Rhineland and the Hochwald. At the end of the war, the division returned to Canada where it disbanded in December 1945.

If you are interested in this formation, there is an excellent book called: ’21 Days in Normandy’ about the 4 Canadian Armoured Division during the battles in Normandy leading up to the closing of the ‘Falaise Pocket’.

The 2 Canadian Armoured Brigade was formed in January 1942 in Canada, and arrived in the United Kingdom in June 1943. It landed in Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944, in support of the 3 Canadian Infantry Division. It then fought at Caen, Vaucelles, Falaise, Chambois, Calais, the Battle for the Rhineland and at Appeldorn in Holland.

The 5 Canadian Armoured Division arrived in North West Europe from Italy with I Canadian Corps in February and March 1945. It had originally been formed in Canada in February 1941 as the 1 Canadian Armoured Division, being renumbered as the 5 Armoured Division in August 1941. It sailed for the U.K. in June 1941, and remained in the U.K. until October 1943. The division then moved to Italy, serving there until February 1945. Whilst in Italy, the division formed a second infantry brigade, the 12 Canadian Infantry Brigade. In March 1945, I Canadian Corps was transferred to North West Europe to bring all the Canadian troops together in one theatre. This included the 1 Canadian Armoured Brigade. When the 5 Canadian Armoured Division arrived in North West Europe, the additional infantry brigade disbanded and the formation reverted to the standard British armoured division establishment. The division disbanded shortly after the end of the war.

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