Largest WW2 formation

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Largest WW2 formation

Kevin Green
Kevin Green

May 1st, 2007, 8:23 pm #1

I was once told that the RCASC was the largest single formation of any that took part in WW2. You then instantly think of the American's involvment but they often broke larger formations into smaller armies, divisions, regiments, air forces, etc. but as a single Corps, could this have been true? It certainly seems plausible with the activity they were involved in at home, in Great Britain, and all conflict areas. Can anybody shed light on this theory?
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 1st, 2007, 9:28 pm #2


RCASC isn't a formation, it is a corps, though.

I'm not sure who employed more men, but an answer beyond the theoretical should be possible.

Among the infantry, I read that more men served overseas as Lorne Scots than as members of any other regiment, since they provided the headquarters defence and employment platoons of every formation save 1st Canadian Army (whose headquarters was defended by a battalion of the Royal Montreal Regiment).

If this is really true or not, I don't know - the source was the Lorne Scots' own regimental history.

I bet the RCOC could lay claim to having a large number of overseas soldiers as well, ditto the RCA, though the latter's loyalties were also divided on regimental lines.
Michael Dorosh
Webmaster
canadiansoldiers.com
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John Sliz
John Sliz

May 1st, 2007, 9:31 pm #3

I was once told that the RCASC was the largest single formation of any that took part in WW2. You then instantly think of the American's involvment but they often broke larger formations into smaller armies, divisions, regiments, air forces, etc. but as a single Corps, could this have been true? It certainly seems plausible with the activity they were involved in at home, in Great Britain, and all conflict areas. Can anybody shed light on this theory?
Maybe you are thinking of the largest company. The 85th and 86th Bridge Companies were HUGE! I think that they were over 800 (I think) men a piece.
I can't see how the RCASC was larger than the RASC, which it was based on.
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Kevin Green
Kevin Green

May 1st, 2007, 9:42 pm #4

I misused the word formation. I meant single unit, be it a corps, or regiment.

Certainly the RASC was large but it only operated in England and in hostilities whereas Canada did all that AND a massive operation in Canada as well.

It could perhaps be a silly scale by which to measure but you could look at the dirth of RCASC badges titles etc. that are available for sale and trade today. They appear to outstrip even ORD. though RCOC would be a very close second.

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Geoff Middleton
Geoff Middleton

May 2nd, 2007, 11:56 am #5

Maybe you are thinking of the largest company. The 85th and 86th Bridge Companies were HUGE! I think that they were over 800 (I think) men a piece.
I can't see how the RCASC was larger than the RASC, which it was based on.
Did you really mean that the badges are scarce? Are they not plentiful for WW2 badges, relatively speaking that is?
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Kevin Green
Kevin Green

May 2nd, 2007, 2:57 pm #6

Another badly chosen word. I meant they are extremely plentiful. Any ideas from you on the relative size of the corps? I agree with Mike's assesment of the Lorne's Scots being perhaps the largest infantry regiment as they were indeed spread all around the army doing HQ defence.
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Geoff Middleton
Geoff Middleton

May 2nd, 2007, 4:54 pm #7

But my grandfather served in the RCASC during WW2 and was in several places across Canada until he was transferred to work at the POW camp at Seebe, Alberta (I think) to guard German prisoners. So there seems to have been a multitude of things that fell to the Corps.
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Doug Townend
Doug Townend

May 2nd, 2007, 5:29 pm #8

I was once told that the RCASC was the largest single formation of any that took part in WW2. You then instantly think of the American's involvment but they often broke larger formations into smaller armies, divisions, regiments, air forces, etc. but as a single Corps, could this have been true? It certainly seems plausible with the activity they were involved in at home, in Great Britain, and all conflict areas. Can anybody shed light on this theory?
After WW II, Gen Burns wrote a very good book analyzing manpower needs in the Canadian Army and giving his opinions as to how many troops were actually required in each of the Corps as well as the combat arms.

I cant remember the title and cant find my book at the moment. Perhaps someone else will remember the title and can find the pages on the RCASC, RCOC, RCEME, etc.

DT.
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Kevin Green
Kevin Green

May 2nd, 2007, 8:16 pm #9

That would certainly seen to be definative if somebody could dig that up.

Thanks DT
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Michael Reintjes
Michael Reintjes

May 2nd, 2007, 9:46 pm #10

I think Mike is right about the Lornies being the largest Infantry unit....not quite sure about the actual size of the RCASC in manpower but I often thought of each RCASC Company as its own unit as opposed to one huge entity,especially as it seems they never really all served together at once as an Infantry batallion would...interesting discussion.
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