2–4 Cockspur Street: Canadian Military Headquarters (1939–1947)

On 1 July 1927, Thomas Bassett Macaulay, President of the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, laid the cornerstone of a new building at 2–4 Cockspur Street, immediately to the west of Canada House. When, at the outset of World War II, the Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) needed to be established in the UK, the Cockspur Street building proved to be an ideal location. From 1940 to 1947, CMHQ also benefited from direct interior connections to Canada House.

CMHQ served as a forward echelon of the Department of National Defence in Ottawa and as an agent of the army commanders serving in the field. It dealt directly with the War Office and relieved First Canadian Army Headquarters of administrative matters. Canadian reinforcement and static units, as well as training establishments in England, were commanded from that base.

In 1939, Canada’s population was 11,382,000. The members of the Canadian Army sent to Europe numbered 368,263. There were 20,111 Canadian Army fatalities during the war.

After VE Day, on 8 May 1945, CMHQ managed the return of Canada’s soldiers, accompanied by 43,464 wives and 20,995 children.

Today’s successor to CMHQ is the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff (London). It continues the long tradition of Canada working in partnership with the UK to provide security and protect human rights and democratic freedoms.

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