Canada in the Second World War

Arms & Weapons

Supplying Canada’s Field Army Overseas

Service point for rations, Normandy, 7 August 1944.

Service point for rations, Normandy, 7 August 1944.
Photo by Donald I. Grant. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-132903.

“An army cannot fight unless it is fed, regularly.” This self-evident concept is usually taken for granted but the provision of “food, ammunition, and other essential supplies to an army at the times and places, and in the quantities required” is an essential pre-condition for any military campaign. Supplying Canada’s army in the field during the Second World War was the joint responsibility of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (RCOC), essentially the Canadian Army’s stores warehouse, and the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC), which transported and issued all material goods from rear areas such as RCOC depots to troops at the front. It had become an established principle that to function adequately in wartime these related services must be brought under military command, for even the best staff work would be rendered useless without “the same control over the services of transport and supply that [a commander] has over his fighting forces” (Arnold Warren, Wait for the Waggon: the Story of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, 1961, pp. 3-4).

Other auxiliary corps were established to carry out the essential services of communications, police, mail delivery and lumber supply, to name only a few.