Filling the Ranks

Manpower in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914–1918

Reviewed by Joel Ralph

September 19, 2017

Filling the Ranks is an important study developed from the Ph.D. dissertation of historian Richard Holt. It traces the development of the Canadian Army during the First World War, from its militia roots and enlistment criteria through to the training of reinforcements.

“God may be on the side with the big battalions, as Napoleon is said to have remarked,” explains Holt, “but keeping them up to strength depended very much on how the nation managed its manpower.”

The issue of manpower was central to the ability to field an effective army during the First World War, and Holt’s study adds a great deal of knowledge to our understanding of the conflict.

A career soldier in the Canadian Army, Holt died in April 2017 shortly after the publication of his book. Filling the Ranks is a testament to his dedication to history and to the Canadian Forces.

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