World War 2
Canada in WW2

Was conscription necessary in Canada during World War 2 and why?

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November 29, 2005 5:03PM

In the initial years, the flow of volunteers was high enough to

fill the needs of the growing Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force.

At a certain point it was realised that once the Army, in

particular, got into heavy combat, the existing troop levels would

not be enough to supply re-inforcements for the dead and wounded.

There was also the need to provide home security in Canada, so a

full division was to be kept at home, throughout the war. The

response from English Canada was overwhelming in terms of

voulunteers, not so in Quebec, where there were a FEW units of

French speakers raised, such as the Sherbrooke regiment, the

Maisoneuves, Three Rivers Tanks, and The Van Doos. The majority of

French speaking males did not respond to calls for volunteers, so

conscription was implemented. The result? Thousands of Quebec males

went into hiding, in the bush. Many worked under false names, in

war plants, happy to make "big money" and get lots of overtime, but

un-willing to actually risk their life for the country. The

re-inforcement shortage started in Italy, where many wounded men

were rushed back from the hospital to the fighting, before they

were properly healed. By the winter of 43/44 the Canadian First

Infantry Divison was down to 50 percent of normal strength in all

its infantry units, and in some armoured units it was only 30

percent of normal. That meant that attacks went in with only half

as many men as normal, and in some cases, units were close to being

completely eliminated, in combat, due to a lack of manpower to hold

a newly captured onjective. After D-Day, in June,1944, the Second

Divison was starting to also be ground down thru the bitter

fighting in Normandy. The rates of loss were accelerated by the

nature of the geography, which was small fields surrounded by tall

hedges, which were fought for one after the other. Heavy loses, day

after day, all through the summer, and into the fall. And all the

time, over 100,000 trained men were sitting on their asses in

Canada, because McKenzie King had made the foolish promise that

they could "sign up for home service only" and never have to go

overseas unless they volunteered to go. What a slap in the face for

those Canadians who HAD voulunteered, and were now fighting in

Europe, with fewer and fewer men to do the job? No wonder the "Home

Service Only " men were known as ZOMBIES, by the fighting troops.

In the end a very samll number, 13,000 actually signed to go

overseas, but it was too few, and too LATE. Less than 2,000 of the

Zombies actually got to a fighting area, before the war ended, in

May , 1945.


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