The “Sawdust Fusiliers”: The Canadian Forestry Corps in Devon, 1916–1919
In April 1916, the first battalion of Canadian lumberjacks arrived in England to initiate large-scale forestry operations. The remarkable achievements of the men of the Canadian Forestry Corps—who would number almost 32,000 by November 1918—are little known. Astonishingly, over 70% of all the timber used by the Allied armies on the western front was furnished by these men. The county of Devon serves as a useful case study to survey the felling operations undertaken to feed the country’s insatiable appetite for timber. It also provides a lens into the at times ambivalent relationship between the men of the Canadian Forestry Corps and British civilians, on the one hand, and “attached labour”—foreign labourers from Portugal and the growing number of German prisoners of war—on the other.