First World War
Andreans Who Served in the Forestry Corps
The Canadian Forestry Corps provided lumber for the Allied war effort by cutting and preparing timber in the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe in both the First World War and the Second World War. Forestry units also cleared terrain for the construction of installations such as airfields and runway, prepared railway ties, as well as lumber for the creation of barracks, road surfaces, ammunition crates, trench construction, etc. These units were sometimes called on in the First World War to perform as infantry.
The success of German U-Boats in the Atlantic in the First World War caused a restriction on the number of imports to Britain. Millions of tons of lumber has travelled across the ocean from Canada to the UK in 1915. In February 1916, the British government requested assistance from Canada with regards to the production of timber, hoping to utilize resources available in Britain. The 224th Canadian Forestry Battalion was raised and arrived in England in April 1916, less than three months after the initial request. The battalion moved to Virginia Water Camp in Surrey, to produce sawn lumber. Detachments were sent to other places in England and Scotland.
A second British request for additional forestry units resulted in the formation of the 238th Canadian Forestry Battalion, which arrived in England in September 1916.
In October 1916, authority was granted to form the Canadian Forestry Corps. Both battalions joined the corps; by November 1916, six forestry battalions had arrived overseas, including the 242nd Battalion, CEF.
In December 1916, the battalions were broken up to form independent forestry companies. Eventually 102 companies were formed in Europe. A small group was already operating in France at Bois Normand, with the first headquarters at Conches (Eure). This headquarters was expanded into a Canadian Forestry Group headquarters (eventually designated Centre Group) divided into two districts. By June 1918, three other groups were in operation; Jura Group, Bordeaux Group, and Marne Group, and each of these groups also had two district headquarters under command. Canadian Forestry Corps headquarters for France was established at Paris-Plage, near Boulogne, with an office in Paris linking the district and group headquarters with a corps supply depot where technical equipment was warehoused, at Le Havre. Arrangements had been made in Canada for the purchase and shipment of necessary machinery and equipment to operate saw mills and other facilities. The corps also ran three forestry hospitals. In March 1918, the corps was called on to train 800 men as reinforcements for the Canadian Corps, to be drawn from across all the districts.
On 2 February 1917, independent forestry companies were formed in each Military District in Canada as well. On 17 July 1917, Forestry Depot Companies were formed in each Military District in Canada.
At the end of the war, 56 companies were in operation on the Western Front, including 13 made up of German prisoners of war. In total, 19,162 men were on strength. Seven more companies were engaged exclusively in technical work for Allied air forces, including clearing, grading, levelling and draining land in the creation of airfields. A scarcity of rivers and waterways in France had necessitated the adoption (and creation) of broad, narrow-gauge railways.
Six districts were in operation in the UK at war's end (at Carlisle, Egham, Southampton and East Sheen in England and Stirling and Inverness in Scotland). Some 43 companies were in operation, with a strength of 12,533 including 3,046 attached labourers and prisoners of war. Their base depot was located at Smith's Lawn, Windsor shortly after the 224th Battalion arrived overseas, and all newly arriving soldiers for the corps arrived at the depot before reinforcements for companies in France or the UK were selected. The average monthly turnover at the depot was 1,500 men. In total, the combined strength of the corps on 11 November 1918, including attached officers, foreign soldiers (including British, Portuguese, Finns and prisoners of war) was 31,447.