Canadian Military History Gateway
Subject > Strategy and Tactics > Special Operations
In fighting along the Cote d’Azur at the end of WW2, the Canadian officer Ralph Wilson Becket won the American Silver Star, along with Sergeant Thomas Price, the most decorated Canadian aboriginal soldier.
Trying to strike back at the Loyalist raiders who caused such trouble, the American rebels sent troops to destroy Iroquois settlements in 1779. Although thousands of refugees were forced to flee, the raids continued with increased strength, with the rebels generally on the losing side.
A young Canadian officer, Ralph Wilson Becket, joined the First Special Service Force, a combined Canadian-American mountain warfare force, and saw service at Kiska and the invasion of southern France.
After 1777, in order to keep the American rebels on the defensive, the British adopted the old Canadian tactic of raiding enemy settlements. The raids were made by mixed groups of Amerindians and soldiers. The troops used were American loyalists such as Butler's Rangers.
American plans called for the recapture of Fort Mackinac in 1814. An attack was defeated by a British ambush in August. The Americans were able to destroy the famous British ship Nancy shortly thereafter, but lost two ships of their own on Lake Huron in September.
When the Glengarry Regiment of Fencible Light Infantry were raised in 1812, they were given uniforms that copied the 95th Regiment of Foot, a prestigeous British rifle regiment that had built a fine reputation serving against the French in Spain. The officers of the Glengarry regiment wore the same dark green jacket with black facings and silver buttons. The crimson officer's sash was worn over the right shoulder in the fashion of Scottish regiments - appropriate for a unit whose recruits included many emmigrants from Scotland. Reconstruction by Robert J. Marrion. (Canadian War Museum)
During the 18th century, France held huge inland regions in North America with a few men for two reasons. First, land was largely controlled by trade alliances with local Amerindians. Second, tactics were used that combined indigenous methods with European organization and discipline.
In 1775, support from the francophone Canadian population for the British dropped because of Governor Carleton's lack of decisive action against the American rebels. Most Canadians opted for neutrality, choosing to let the British and Americans fight among themselves
Combat for the Canadian militia during raids was a matter of surprise attack from ambush - a volley of musket fire and then a charge with hatchets. The manoeuvres and drill of a European-style battlefield were foreign to them, and there they were best behind fortifications.
During the early phase of the war, the Pacific coast was defended by three divisions, later reduced to the 6th Division in order to provide conscripts for Europe. Elements of the division participated in the liberation of the Aleutian islands of Kiska and Attu in 1943.