General Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commander-in-Chief, blamed Lieutenant-General Edwin Alderson for the failure of the Canadian Corps to hold the unconsolidated British gains at the Battle of St Eloi Craters, Belgium, in April 1915. Although there were many contributing factors to the failure, General Haig had decided to make Alderson the scapegoat for the defeat.

The Canadian minister of militia, Sam Hughes, also wanted Lieutenant-General Alderson replaced. Hughes had been infuriated when Alderson replaced the Ross rifle with the British Lee-Enfield as the standard weapon of the Canadian troops under his command. As a result, General Haig, with Hughes' approval, appointed Lieutenant-General Julius Byng to replace Alderson as commander of the Canadian Corps on 28 May 1916.

Byng was a happy choice and adapted quickly to the Canadian ways of getting things done. While his tour as commander of the Canadian Corps lasted not much more than a year, he must be given credit for stewarding the development of new tactics. By the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April of the next year, these tactics proved that infantry could overcome the obstacle of seemingly overwhelming firepower and seize and hold their objective.


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