«LONDON PRINTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY, OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA. REPORT of the MINISTRY Overseas Military Forces of Canada LONDON ...»
In the meantime payments on account have been made through the High Commissioner to the Imperial Government from time to time pending the settlement of this outstanding question.
There are certain charges proposed to be made by the Imperial Government concerning which so far insufficient data has been supplied to admit of the acceptance of such charges by the Canadian Government, but these matters are now receiving the attention of expert accountants, and it is expected that they will be settled in the near future.
There are a number of services rendered by the Imperial Government to the Canadian Government, and vice versa, for which no accounts have yet been rendered. These accounts are now in process of formulation.
Canadian personnel have been employed in special technical services, and a large number of officers have been seconded for service with the Imperial Forces, such as the Royal Flying Corps.
Remarks.—Since the arrival of the Canadian Contingents in England, the disbursements of Public Funds by the Paymaster General have been audited by this Department.
As the Department was not created until 1915, some of the documents relating to 1914/1915 were returned to Canada without passing through the hands of the General Auditor.
432 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
The Financial Instructions and Orders-in-Council, created and passed in Canada, relating to payments and the authorities for payment, have been carefully applied.
Certain difficulties, however, were experienced in interpreting and applying these, owing to the impossibility of anticipating in the regulations conditions resultant on the large increase in troops, their employment and location, and the changed conditions from time to time existing Overseas.
Other difficulties arose with regard to obtaining trained personnel.
Some over-payments have been made to the officers and other ranks of the Force, but the bulk of these are subject to recovery under the terms of the War Service Gratuity Orderin-Council, or before the cessation of the soldier's service. A proportion of such over-payments have been advised to Ottawa, and the balance are in process of notification. By comparison with the large disbursements of Pay and Allowances through the Paymaster General, these over-payments will be exceptionally small.
In view of the difficult conditions under which the work has been carried on, the receipts and disbursements have on a whole been recorded in a very satisfactory manner and carefully controlled. The disbursements on account of purchases of materials, etc., have also been audited, and the necessary documentary evidence produced in accordance with the Consolidated Revenue and Audit Act.
During the course of the various audits the matters requiring attention have been brought to the notice of the Departments interested, and have received the required consideration, or are in process of reply at present.
Canadian Record Office.
Every detail and incident of Military importance connected with the life or death of a Warrant Officer, Non-Commissioned Officer and man of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, from the time of his arrival in England until such time as he is discharged, returned to Canada or becomes otherwise non-effective, is tabulated by the Canadian Record Office, Green Arbour House, London. The Director of Records is Col. A.
Lorne Hamilton, C.M.G.
Records of Officers in the Overseas Military Forces of Canada are kept by a special Department of the Assistant Military Secretary's Branch which, for the sake of convenience, is accommodated at the Canadian Record Office.
Summarised, the work of the Canadian Record Office is as follows:— Soldiers' Documents.—The collection, custody, verification and
distribution of soldiers' documents involving:
(a) Collection and checking of documents of Drafts arriving from Canada.
(b) Collection and forwarding to France of documents of Drafts proceeding to France, and receiving and distributing documents of men evacuated from France.
(c) Checking Casualty Forms of Drafts proceeding to France.
(d) Custody of various documents during the whole period a soldier is on the strength of Overseas Military Forces of Canada, and custody of his documents while he is in France or in Hospital in England.
Casualties.—The reporting of Casualties and tracing movements while in Hospital. Under this head are comprised:— (a) The compilation, after verification, of Daily Casualty Lists from reports received both from France and from the different centres in England. This includes the reporting of transfers of Casualties from one Hospital to another.
(b) Notification of the next-of-kin when resident in England.
Card Index.—A Card Index reflecting the names of all personnel of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, effective and noneffective, is maintained. This Department is, therefore, enabled to answer multifarious official and unofficial enquiries with the least possible delay.
Mail.—The re-direction of all mail, letter and parcel, for Casualties evacuated from France, and the re-direction of all mail, after tracing and identifying addresses, not previously delivered on account of being insufficiently or incorrectly addressed.
Honours and Awards.—The maintenance of a complete record of all honours and awards gained by Members of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, and the custody and distribution of medals and war badges. The distribution of " King's Certificates," given to every Officer and man honourably discharged on disability, is also entrusted to this Office.
Miscellaneous Duties.—The carrying out of the following miscellaneous duties:— (a) The compilation of the Wastage Return for the entire Force.
(b) Compilation of various Statistical Returns of Strength, Casualties, etc.
(c) Custody of War Diaries and confidential documents of all units.
(d) Supervision of the Office System and Records of all Regimental Depot Groups in England.
(e) Provision of quarters and staff for the Director-General of Medical Services Staff at Record Office.
(f) Checking proceedings of Medical Boards and diagnoses by Hospitals.
(g) Verification of Service chevrons to which a soldier may be entitled.
Record Office. 435 Statistics of Duties.—The following. figures for the 12 months ended December 31, 1918, give an idea of the volume of work undertaken by the Record Office:— New records created
Total number of records maintained
Letters and Packages received
Letters and Packages dispatched
New files created by Registry
Entries in Casualty Lists sent out both in France and in England (a) Officers
(b) Other Ranks
Burial Reports received and registered
Map locations of graves prepared and passed to Graves Registration Branch
Enquiries answered in respect to Personnel
Medals received for disposal
War Diaries received for custody
Boxes and parcels of confidential and historical documents received
It is, perhaps, as well that the Estates Branch has not loomed too large in the eye of the Canadian public, for while it acts as official guide, philosopher, and friend in all legal matters to all Canadian soldiers Overseas, it also performed the sadder task of acting as executor to those who fell in battle. The latter is a contingency now mercifully past, but the Estates Branch, in charge of Lt.-Col. S. G. Robertson, Director of Military Estates, still actss as executor to those soldiers whom fate may overtake before they can embark for home.
It is not too much to say of this Department that not only has it been of great service to the Canadian troops, but of considerable comfort to many Canadian families in time of trouble.
When a soldier was killed, it might be in some forward outpost, in No Man's Land or in the darkness of the front trench line at night, an officer or non-commissioned officer first secured the identity disc which every soldier carries round his neck or wrist, and then carefully collected all the little personal articles which the fallen man had carried with him into the line-his watch, his ring, and, perhaps, a pocket-book with a few treasured photographs.
These were then taken to Company Headquarters, whence they were forwarded to the Battalion Paymaster, by whom they were ultimately transmitted, together with the man's kit, to the Estates Branch in London.
From London they were despatched to Ottawa, whence those precious relics, which mean so much to many a bereaved wife or parent, were forwarded to those entitled to them.
It was not, of course, always possible to recover these personal belongings, especially when a soldier fell in a big offensive action.
Every possible care, however, was taken to secure them, and if an enquiry was received by the Estates Branch in respect to some particular article every effort was at once made to trace it. In any case the fact that such an immense number of these articles was safely conveyed from 438 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
those who had fallen to those whose property they had become in Canada is striking testimony to the systematic methods which were employed.
In the course of its history, too, the Estates Branch has been made the depository of one quarter of a million Canadian soldiers' wills.
Before an officer, N.C.O., or man proceeded to France the Paymasters of the different Units were required to forward to the Estates Branch a roll showing where each soldier had deposited his will. In the case of those soldiers who had made no wills the Paymasters had instructions to procure them for them, blank forms of will and copies being provided for this purpose.
The originals of all wills were then placed on file at the Estates Branch, and in the event of a soldier being reported killed four copies of the document were at once prepared.. Of these one was passed to the Canadian Record Office for filing, another to the Section which had charge of the deceased's estate on hand, while the original and two copies were kept at. the Wills Branch.
In the event of the beneficiaries residing in Canada the original will or a certified copy was forwarded, together with the kit and personal effects of the soldier concerned, either to the Militia Council at Ottawa or to the deceased's own executors for the purpose of probate. In the event of the beneficiaries residing in the British Isles the kit and personal effects were dealt with by the Estates Branch under the terms of the will.
Lawyers of Standing.—In addition to these duties the Estates Branch has done, and is still doing, much valuable work for the Canadian soldier. It stored surplus baggage when he proceeded to France, and through its Legal Department it is ready at all times to give advice on points arising out of the laws of any Provinces of Canada or in respect to the laws of England. It will also, when so desired, draw up any legal documents in connection with his private affairs which a Canadian soldier may require while overseas. It will, therefore, be seen that its staff must include officers versed in the laws of the different Provinces, and that the importance attaching to their advice and decisions requires that they shall be lawyers of recognised ability and standing.
Up to May, 1915, the duties of this Branch were carried out by the Canadian Pay Office, but the rapid increase in the Estates Branch. 439 work and the absolute necessity for meticulous care in respect to technical details necessitated a considerable development.
Early in 1916 it became necessary to establish an Estates Branch at Ottawa, and towards the end of the same year the Branch in England passed nominally to the Accountant General.
By November, 1917, it became absolutely essential to make the Estates Branch a separate Department, and finally authority was given for an Establishment permitting of 12 officers, 83 other ranks, and 80 civilian employees. That, of course, was to provide for days of pressure, but the cessation of hostilities greatly lessened the work of the Branch and the strength of its staff has consequently been proportionately decreased.
In November, 1918, the department was given the name of Estates and Legal Services Branch, Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
Overseas Purchasing Committee.
CONTRACTS BRANCH, OVERSEAS
MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA.Prior to 1918, the Chief Purchasing Officer of the QuartermasterGeneral's Branch was authorised to purchase all supplies for the use of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada in the British Isles, requisitions for the same having been first approved by the head of the branch of the service requiring them.
While, owing to the efficient manner in which this system was administered, the public was being amply protected, yet it was felt that it would be better to place the authority for purchasing stores under a department distinct from the department responsible for the receipt, issue and custody of them. It was also observed that a certain duplication in the accounting system could be dispensed with by the formation of a separate department.
Accordingly, the Minister, with the concurrence of the Overseas Military Council, authorised the formation of a branch to be known as the " Contracts Branch," such Branch to operate under a Committee ' to be known as the " Overseas Purchasing Committee," upon which was imposed the duty of supervising, directing, inspecting and passing upon the proposed actions and operations of the Contracts Branch. The Committee is composed of such persons as the Overseas Minister may from time to time designate, and at the present time consists of three members. The Committee keeps complete minutes of all contracts approved by it and as far as practicable such minutes are similar to those of the War Purchasing Commission of Canada.
Subject to the approval of the Committee as above mentioned, all contracts in the Overseas Military Forces of Canada in reference to transportation clothing, equipment, arms, guns, ammunition, horses, munitions and materials of war, supplies of every kind and accommodation, made subsequent to August 1, 1918, are entered into by the Director of Contracts, the head of the Contracts Branch.
442 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.