Canadian Reinforcement Units and Other Units Under C.M.H.Q. Command
Canadian Military Headquarters had under its command in the United Kingdom towards the end of hostilities with Germany numerous miscellaneous units, whose establishments-(not including the reinforcements held in the reinforcement units, but including temporary units or "increments") totalled 34,777 all ranks.
The most important group were the Reinforcement Units, the organization of which underwent six major revisions in the course of the war. Originally known as Holding Units, they were first organized in the summer of 1940 in two groups. Although they were primarily reinforcement pools it was found from the outset that they had to undertake the task of training the drafts arriving from Canada. This and the great growth of the Canadian overseas army were among the causes of the various changes; the reorganization of the army in 1943 to conform with British war establishments was another factor. The principle of affiliation of Infantry Holding Units with field units was also a matter of discussion and experimentation.
They were originally organized on a territorial basis, but in 1941 this was replaced by a divisional one; that is, each infantry division had its own Infantry Holding Unit. In 1943, however, the divisional principle was abandoned and the territorial one revived. Thus for example all reinforcements for western Canadian infantry units of any division would
*The organization of C.M.H.Q. may be compared with that of the Army branches at N.D.H.Q., Ottawa, a chart of which appears as Appendix "J".
†On 30 November 1944 the actual strength in Britain was 73,006 all ranks. Of these only 25,816 covered permanent establishment vacancies; 26,621 were reinforcements, 4568 were employed in the temporary units or "increments", while 16,001 listed as "non-effectives" (unfit personnel, personnel employed outside the United Kingdom, etc.) did not count against unit establishments. By 30 April 1945 the strength had risen to 94,569, of whom 39,380 were reinforcements.
come from the same reinforcement unit. The term "Reinforcement Unit" had been adopted because it was considered that the name "Holding Unit" was liable to have a bad psychological effect on the troops concerned.
By the spring of 1944 the Canadian Reinforcement Units were organized in six groups in the Bordon-Aldershot area under a Headquarters, C.R.U.* "A" and "D" Groups embraced five Infantry Reinforcement Units and No. 1 Canadian General Reinforcement Unit, which served Intelligence, Medical, Dental, Provost, Educational, and Auxiliary Service units, as well as the Chaplain Service and the Pay Corps. "B" Group consisted of Engineer, Signals and Army Service Corps Reinforcement Units; "C" Group, one Ordnance and two Artillery Reinforcement Units; "E" Group, three Armoured Corps Reinforcement Units, and "F" Group miscellaneous static units. The decision made early in 1944 to hold some 19,000 reinforcements in the two theatres of war on the Continent had led to the elimination of "G" Group and the disbandment of one Artillery and two Infantry Reinforcement Units.
Each Reinforcement Unit was organized in a headquarters, an instructional wing, an administrative wing and holding wings. The last named were subdivided into wing headquarters and training companies, etc. The whole system in England was designed to hold approximately 23,000 reinforcements at one time.
Early in 1944, in order to stimulate the flow of infantry reinforcements, the policy of sending formed units overseas from Canada was adopted and the arrival of the 13th Infantry Brigade in the summer of that year led to another change in the organization of the Infantry reinforcement units. "A" and "D" Groups and the 13th Infantry Brigade were all disbanded and a new organization known as the 13th Canadian Infantry Training Brigade was formed. This consisted of four and subsequently five training regiments, each made up of one and subsequently two training battalions and one depot ' battalion. The latter was responsible for all administration in connection with the reception, holding and dispatch of drafts, while the training battalion carried out refresher and collective training up to company level. In January 1945, preparatory to the arrival of the 14th and 15th Infantry Brigades, a 14th Canadian Infantry Training Brigade was also set up, consisting of four infantry training regiments, with the same distribution of depot and training battalions as in the 13th Brigade.