From the illustrated history of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps by Marteinson and McNorgan: “The idea of creating Canadian tank battalions had arisen in January 1918 in a conversation between Major-General H.J. Elles, General Officer Commanding the Tank Corps, and a Canadian gunner on his staff, Lieutenant-Colonel James Edgar Mills who suggested that Canada should be involved in the new forma warfare that Elles commanded.
Ottawa was receptive to the suggestion and appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Denison of the Winnipeg Rifles to raise and command the new battalion, which would be part of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps. Within two months he had recruited a complete complement of 688 all ranks from universities across the country. “A” Company of the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion was recruited at the University of Toronto, “B” Company from McGill and “C” Company from other universities.
First brought together in Ottawa, they were shipped to Britain in June of 1918 and quartered at Frensham Camp for basic training while the officers were posted to Bovington Camp to learn the mysteries of armoured warfare.
Here is a photo of a Canadian Mark V tank. Note the maple leaf and the name “Toronto” on the front of the tank.
Canada planned to have three tank battalions and a Tank Corps to administer the new arm of service.
Badge of the Canadian Tank Corps
Badges of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Tank Battalions.
The First Canadian Tank Battalion was recruited at the University of Toronto.
One man that volunteered for the new Tank Corps was Mr. William Cook. William was born in Scotland in 1906 and was working in Toronto when this advertisement appeared in a Toronto newspaper. William joined the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion.
Cpl. William Cook and Mrs Jeanie Cook McNeil.
Some fantastic personal photos from Cpl Cook training in England.
The Christmas card produced by the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion.
The inside of the Christmas card wishing a Merry Christmas for 1918.
A special thank you to Mr. Ian Cook, William’s grandson for these outstanding photos.
These Tank Battalions were disbanded in 1920. It would be 16 years and the threat of another war before Canada would once again visit armoured warfare.