The divisional experience in the C.E.F.: a social and operational history of the 2nd Canadian division, 1915-1918
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AbstractThis dissertation explores what may be termed the "divisional experience" in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War by employing the 2nd Canadian Division as a case study. It illuminates the uniqueness of the 2nd Canadian Division's own record within the broader history of the Canadian Corps, and it argues that the division's operational effectiveness derived from: practical experience in fighting; a program of continuous training; a collaborative and increasingly analytical command environment; and a certain degree of personnel continuity. This study also suggests that a significant measure of the Canadian Corps' strength as a fighting formation stemmed from the efficacy of its component divisions and the increasing flexibility of its structured attack methodology. Within the context of these principal theses, several additional themes are examined. The culture of command and the impact of personality upon divisional efficiency are considered, particularly in relation to the performance and interaction of the division's officers. The record of Major-General Richard Turner is reassessed, and it is argued that he was a more competent divisional commander than has been previously acknowledged. The personality and performance of Turner's successor, Major-General Henry Burstall, is evaluated and the effectiveness of his executive/paternal command style is recognized. The existence of an "informal army" is proposed, which comprised the network of interpersonal relations, informal practices, and unwritten rules observed by Canadian officers throughout the 2nd Canadian Division and the Canadian Corps. Trends in discipline and punishment within a Canadian division are explored for the first time, and it is argued that the state of discipline depended largely upon the quality of leadership and the impact of personnel turbulence within individual units. The existence and influence of both small and large group identities within 2nd Canadian Division is investigated, and it is demonstrated that the degree to which one identified with one's sub-unit, unit, or formation depended either upon one's place in the divisional hierarchy, or upon situational context. Finally, the dissertation concludes by presenting the first model that charts a Canadian division's evolution toward operational expertise.
Bibliography: p. 567-587.