Just a little political background to the reorganization, and we’ll be done with this topic for a while.
We have already met Sir Sam Hughes, Canada’s Minister of Militia, the erratic, self-important, posturing and energetic man of ambitions that were thwarted, it seemed, by those in charge of the Allied forces and of the Canadian government. Realizing that Australia, with a smaller population than her sister Dominion, had sent five Divisions to fight in France (and another two in Egypt), Hughes was determined that Canada should increase her contribution. Despite the fact that it was getting harder to recruit in Canada, and that conscription might have to be introduced, Hughes was convinced that a fifth and perhaps even a sixth Canadian division could be established.
The reorganization which had begun with a stroke of the pen on the men’s records and the relabeling of mountains of equipment was part of the plan to form a fifth Canadian division. Hughes resigned as Minister of Militia in November 1916 “amid much anguish and intrigue,” there being considerable concern as to whether it was better to keep the existing divisions up to strength (the battles of the Somme had severely depleted them) or to expand to a fifth division. Hughes’ departure was not as tempestuous as might have been expected, and it is speculated that he went quietly after being promised that his son Garnet would be given command of the new Fifth Division.
The photograph shows Sam, left, and Garnet Hughes in August 1916. It comes from the article cited below which provides the information for this post.
Stewart, William. “Frustrated Belligerence The Unhappy History of the 5th Canadian Division in the First World War.”Canadian Military History. 22: 2. 2015.
Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”