From One World War to Another (1919-43)

Canada’s Military between the Wars

The Planned Army of 1919-1939

To elicit recommendations on what the aftermath of war would hold for the army, the general staff struck a commission for militia reorganization headed by Major-General Otter. As for the professional force, two of the new regiments that had emerged during the First World War, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) and the Royal 22nd, would be retained. Thus the Canadian Army Corps would be perpetuated, and for the first time Francophones would have access to a permanent French-language infantry unit. The RCR and the other prewar Permanent Militia units also survived. In most of them, however, actual strength was less than the authorized maximum. Between 1919 and 1939 Canada would never have a combat-ready infantry brigade, and these regular-force units would not be officially attached to Non-Permanent Militia brigades or the forces planned for overseas in the event of war. The first postwar mass exercise for the permanent force took place in 1936.

As for the Non-Permanent Militia, it was decided that defence of the country would involve 15 divisions (11 infantry and four cavalry). One of the debates making the rounds was whether to keep the numbered battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force or to submerge these battle units within the pre-1914 militia formations. The veterans favoured retention of the 1914-18 units in order to preserve the old ties with the Army Corps commanded by Sir Arthur Currie and provide a spur to recruitment. Strongly supported by a panoply of politicians, however, the militia regiments survived. They would, nonetheless, receive the battle honours and recent traditions of those numbered battalions to which each militia unit had contributed the most.