From Cold War to Present Day

The Army Since 1945

Restructuring the Reserves

This much-needed restructuring still came as a shock to some: They were seeing the disappearance of battalions that had attracted excellent recruits in the past - supplying, for example, the Army Corps commander of the First World War and three of the five division commanders of the Second World War. Yet regiments like the Royal 22e absorbed militia units as their 4th and 6th battalions, and the amalgamated Canadian Fusiliers/Oxford Rifles formed the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. It was also understood, if not shouted from the rooftops - a number of militiamen were unaware of it - that when two reserve regiments supported one another only the larger of the two would be mobilized in wartime, with the other recruited to offset casualties. The goal was to have the reserve regiments that marched in tandem gradually merge, resulting in 27 reserve regiments or approximately what would be required for two overseas divisions plus territorial defence.

The report also envisaged a Regular Army Reserve made up of persons who had completed their contracts in the Regular Force but were prepared to train for 21 days a year in their former regiments. This highly unpopular system would be abandoned after three years. At this moment of historic fervour, the post-Second World War Reserve became the Canadian Army Militia, restoring continuity with the old French regime.

The reserve was somewhat revived by these changes, but certain facts remained. The proliferation of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons made it highly unlikely that two divisions would be able to reach Europe before the outcome of a conflict was determined. Moreover, the reserve's equipment was getting old and there was no money to replace the Sherman tanks and some of the field guns. Before leaving his job Simonds suggested another review of the reserve, and his successor, Howard Graham, appointed Brigadier WA.B. Anderson to conduct it. Anderson agreed with past investigators that the reserve was ill prepared for action. In his view, no unit would be battle-ready within 30 days of a mobilization order and a number of them would need several months to fill their ranks. Anderson's recommendations, which included the elimination of the least productive units, would never be implemented. Under the newly elected Conservative government, the reserve was assigned a new role by defence minister George R. Pearkes, a Victoria Cross recipient from the First World War: organizing survival in the event of an atomic attack. The policy on its use had changed, but the reserve organization recommended in the Kennedy Report had not. In the face of reluctance from Pearkes, who favoured keeping everything, Graham and his successor, Lieutenant-General S.F. Clark, got rid of some 150 ineffective sub-units in particularly remote locations.