First World War
Andreans Who Served in the Engineers
Following the Boer War the Canadian Government realized that the defence of Canada required more than just a single infantry battalion and a few artillery batteries as part of the permanent defence force. In 1903 The Royal Canadian Engineers were founded as the basis of the permanent military engineers, while the militia had the Canadian Engineer Corps created.
The creation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in which formed units and corps the peacetime Canadian Militia were not mobilized also saw the creation of several engineer units for service in Canada and abroad, referred to as Canadian Engineers, as newly recruited men were considered part of the reserve rather than the prewar, professional Permanent Force.
One of the first tasks completed by the engineers after the declaration of war upon Germany in 1914 was for the rapid development of the Valcartier training site in Quebec. At its peak size 30,000 men where stationed here before the 1st Canadian Division was deployed to England.
When the 1st Division arrived on the front in Belgium they were accompanied by field companies of the Canadian Engineer Corps (men recruited into the service after the start of the war were part of the Militia branch and not the regulars). These troops were responsible for construction of defences, sanitation systems, water supplies, bridging, and assisting with trench raids.
One of the most important functions of the Sappers during the war was to dig tunnels underneath enemy trenches, with which to plant explosives to destroy them. At the Battle of Vimy Ridge, several such mines were used to win the battle.
During the war the only Victoria Cross the Royal Canadian Engineers ever received was earned by Captain C. N. Mitchell for actions on 8 October 1918.
In total, more than 40 000 Canadians served as Engineers during the war, 14 000 on the front on the last day of the war.