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«LONDON PRINTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY, OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA. REPORT of the MINISTRY Overseas Military Forces of Canada LONDON ...»

-- [ Page 62 ] --

Conference in Paris.—In December, 1916, at the initiation of the Belgian, and with the concurrence of the French Government, invitations were sent to the Allies to appoint delegates to attend an inter-Allied Conference on professional re-education and matters relating to war invalids to be held in the spring of 1917. This first Conference was held in Paris in May, 1917, under the Presidency of Baron de Brocqueville, the Belgian War Minister. At this Colonel F. G. Finley, C.B., C.A.M.C., repreInter-Allied Permanent Committee for Disabled Soldiers. 471 sented the Dominion. The Conference resolved itself into half-a-dozen sections which undertook a detailed study of the care of the disabled in all its aspects. At the concluding meeting more than a hundred resolutions were passed dealing with medical gymnastics, functional restoration by work, mechanical orthopaedics, artificial limbs, etc., pensions and gratuities, technical re-education, employment of the disabled, agricultural re-education, and the blind, deaf, and nervous and mental cases. The final resolutions determined upon the publication of a quarterly review upon all subjects relating to functional and technical reeducation, and the appointment of a permanent inter-Allied Committee with central offices, a library and an information bureau in Paris.

Permanent Committee.—This Permanent Committee, of some 100 members, held several meetings during 1917 and 1918, and that Canada might be adequately represented a second Canadian member was nominated by the Government, in the person of Colonel Murray MacLaren, C.M.G. In the late autumn it accepted the invitation of the British Government to hold a second Conference in London in the spring of 1918, and immediately took steps to make this a success.

This Conference, held in Westminster in May, 1918, was very largely attended and a great success. Senator J. McClennan and several other delegates attended from Canada.

A striking feature was the museum, with its demonstrations of the disabled at work, and of the various objects made by disabled soldiers in the course of their training. The Canadian exhibit, contributed from the Hospitals and workshops in both Canada and England, was so attractive that, at the request of the Imperial Minister of Pensions, it was sent on tour through the large cities of the British Isles.

In consequence of Colonel Finley's return to Canada, Colonel J. G.

Adami, C.A.M.C., has been appointed to replace him as Canadian representative on the Permanent Committee.

The Khaki University of Canada.

SUCCESS OF THE EFFORT MADE IN WAR

TO EDUCATE MEN FOR PEACE.

The Idea.—The idea of conducting educational work among the men of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada-an idea which culminated in the Khaki University of Canada as a Branch of the General Staff-originated in the minds of certain officers of the Canadian Y.M.C.A., as 'a result of the many requests made to them from time to time both by officers and men for books and reading material of the kind required by students. This opened up a situation which was accentuated by constantly recurring enquiries on the part of the men as to what life they should adopt on their return to Canada.

It was felt that it was necessary to act, and the first move was made in January, 1917, when the Executive Committee of the Y.M.C.A., in France, passed a resolution which embodied a request that a representative of education in Canada should be asked to visit England and France to look into the whole question of providing some educational scheme for the troops.

As a result an invitation was sent to President H. M. Torry, President of the University of Alberta, to visit the Overseas Forces in order to make a report on the subject. President Torry, who was later appointed, and is now, Director of Educational Services, Overseas Military Forces of Canada, with the rank of Hon. Colonel. The invitation was accepted, and the mission undertaken during the summer of 1917, when the various areas in England and France were visited and careful observations made, both in respect to the requirements of the men and such opportunities as army life afforded for study. In August a Conference was held in France, at which were present the representatives of the Corps Commander and the four Divisions in the Field. The general scheme, which was then submitted, was afterwards accepted as the basis for future plans.

In addition to this, the matter was discussed at public gatherings of considerable numbers of men in Y.M.C.A. huts in France, and everywhere the scheme received their warm approval.

In England the matter was placed before the 474 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

General Staff and also before groups of officers and men in the Training Areas, where it received similar commendation.

The Report covering the question which was published in September contained a number of recommendations, which were based upon conclusions, drawn from observation, of which the following are of interest:— 1. "There is no doubt in the minds of the Military Authorities that such educational work, if properly planned, would be of great benefit to the soldiers from the point of view alone of Military efficiency and general morale, and that, further, a great and useful service might be done in preparing the men for the time when they would have to resume the normal duties of life."





2. "The excitement associated with the initial stages of Army life has passed away, social and civic instincts are again asserting themselves, and there is a strong desire on the part of the men, particularly among those who previously followed intellectual occupations, to undertake any work which would bring them again into contact with the problems of civilian life. A considerable proportion of the men are not only willing to take advantage of any opportunity for intellectual improvement which could be offered, but are keenly anxious to do so."

Aims of the Promoters.—Knowing the minds of the men so well, it was the object of those who drafted the scheme, to give the men who had left Canada, while still at school or college, an opportunity to make up some of their lost time by enabling them to employ their spare hours in such a way that they might renew contact with the life they had previously followed or planned for themselves, and in addition, to make use of the time offered by the Demobilization period in direct preparation for their civilian work in life. Had the War only lasted a year the break would not have been a serious one ; but the lapse of two, three, and, perhaps, four years, meant that those who had originally mapped out intellectual careers for themselves were now completely dissociated from their former conditions and ideals. It was to save these men for Canada, and especially to save them for the teaching and intellectual professions, that were perhaps the greatest object and the most urgent motive Khaki University. 475 of the entire scheme. Just as much consideration however was given to the needs of those whose path in life would lead them to commerce, to trade, or to industry. It was therefore the second great object of the scheme to prepare for their life's work, by means of practical education, men who were still young enough to benefit by class work and lectures.

It was indeed believed that work carried on in war time would serve to create an interest among the men which during the Demobilization period could be intensified and guided along the lines which would make their re-adjustment to civil life in Canada a simpler and easier matter to control. It was further hoped that the whole scheme would ultimately link up with the various plans, either maturing or in operation, for settlement at home, so that a considerable percentage of men who would otherwise have no fixed and satisfactory occupation would by this means be enabled to choose and secure a definite calling in life. In this direction the promoters of the scheme had in mind such avocations as Agriculture and businesses of a practical kind.

With these aims in view the Report included recommendations which provided for a preliminary programme to meet both the immediate needs of the men, and a further programme which provided for developments during the period of Demobilization.

Original Scheme.—The initial and immediate scheme outlined in the Report provided for suitable lectures, study groups, and the establishment of useful libraries. The plan for the Demobilization period provided a complete scheme of education from elementary school courses to attendance at British Universities.

Steps were immediately taken to interest the Canadian Universities and Government Authorities in the matter, and finally the Universities of Canada agreed to help in the following ways:—

1. By co-operating in the formation of an Advisory Board representative of the Universities, the Board to serve as a Union Committee of the Universities, supporting what it was decided should be known as the Khaki University Movement.

2. By providing additional teaching power as required from time to time, more especially during the period of Demobilization.

476 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

3. By accepting certificates of educational work done by the men while with the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, in lieu of University work where it was of the same grade.

On the other part, the National Committee of the Y.M.C.A. of Canada agreed

1. To transfer the control of the educational movement to the Union Committee of the Universities.

2. To finance the movement to the utmost of their power.

The Advisory Board agreed on was therefore called into being, and the whole matter laid before the Government of Canada in October, 1917, when the Prime Minister and the Members of his Cabinet accorded the scheme their full support. The approval of the Canadian public was amply illustrated by the fact that when, a little later, the Y.M.C.A. asked for half a million dollars to finance the work, that very considerable amount was immediately over-subscribed.

Beginning Operations.—While negotiations were proceeding in Canada-the General Staff of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada appointed a Committee which, in addition to a member of the General Staff, consisted of a representative of the Y.M.C.A. and a representative of the Chaplain Services; and this Committee at once began the work of organising in England, pending the conclusion of the negotiations in Canada.

At the same time an organisation was founded under the auspices of the Third Division in France along similar lines. This organisation was later extended to the other divisions, and was known as the University of Vimy Ridge.

The work was begun in a limited way, both in England and in France during the autumn of 1917, and continued in the early part of 1918. With the beginning of the Spring Offensive in 1918, however, the work in France had to be closed down, and it was not possible to resume it until after the signing of the Armistice in November of that year.

In England, fortunately, there was no necessity to make a break in the work. Indeed, the demand for instruction on the part of the men made it practically impossible to discontinue it.

Khaki Colleges.—In England the organisation at first took the form of groups for study in the different areas, each local group being established as a Khaki College. Fourteen Khaki University. 477

–  –  –

Later, Battalion Schools, for elementary educational work were developed in each Battalion, in each area, in order to leave the College group free for more advanced work.

A Correspondence Department was also organised for men both in England and in France, for the benefit of those in Hospitals, Forestry Camps, and other places where local organisations were not practicable.

In France the scheme was operated by means of a series of Battalion Schools, the system being extended throughout the Canadian troops in France as a part of the Regular Military Organisation.

In both cases, however, throughout this time the work centred mainly in the Library. The Library and Reading Room, associated with lectures, were the principal features of the scheme.

University Established.—During the summer of 1918, negotiations were opened between the Representative of the Khaki University and the Overseas Ministry, with a view to putting the work on a basis which would meet the needs of the eventual period of demobilization. These negotiations concluded with a recommendation to the Canadian Government that an educational establishment should be set up in the Overseas Military Forces of Canada as a Branch of the General Staff under the control of a Director. This was absolutely essential in order that the machinery of the Army might be utilised in a regular and proper manner.

As a result of this recommendation, an Order in Council, passed on September, 19, 1918, gave authority for this Establishment, the official designation of which was the Khaki University of Canada. This Establishment was made comprehensive of all the existing educational organisations in the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, and the preamble of the Order in Council set forth that the representatives of the Khaki 478 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

University of Canada might assume responsibility for certain additional expenditure. Authority was also given for the Khaki University to draw on the Overseas Military Forces of Canada for whatever teachers might be required and were available.

Changes After Armistice.—The machinery had scarcely been created when the signing of the Armistice resulted in wholly unexpected demands being made upon the new organisation, and to understand how the problem was dealt with it is necessary to view the position as it had developed at the date of November 11.

The Battalion Schools were engaged in teaching subjects which would fall below the ordinary high school grade. The subjects taught were of the usual elementary kind, including elementary agriculture and' commercial subjects, for the teaching of which special books had been prepared and printed under the auspices of the Khaki University.



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