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In addition to personnel returning to the Discharge Depot, Buxton, there were men who, on account of their wounds or sickness, had been marked by the Medical Authorities as soldiers who should be invalided to Canada for further treatment. These men were known as Invaliding Cases, and until June, 1918, such men were returned to Canada in regular hospital ships which had been taken over by the Canadian Government and were making periodical crossings from England to Canada. After the sinking of H.M.H.S. Llandovery Castle, the practice of using hospital ships was discontinued, and vessels known as Ambulance Transports were employed. These vessels travelled under escort up to the time of the Armistice.


Applications for enlistment into the Canadian Forces in England were constantly being received. Some of these were from persons who alleged themselves to be Canadians, and who had been called up for Service by the Imperial Authorities and who desired to serve with the Canadians rather than with the Imperial Forces ; others were from Canadians, who, for various reasons, happened to be resident in England and who desired to join the Canadian Forces there. Requests were also received from Canadians who had, voluntarily or otherwise, enlisted and were serving with the Imperial Forces.

The last class of applicant was advised that he must apply through his Imperial Unit for transfer to the Canadian Forces, and where the Imperial Authorities saw fit to forward his request for such transfer, together with the statement that there was no objection to his discharge from his Imperial engagement 44 Overseas Military Forces of Canada, and his re-enlistment in the Canadian Forces, his application was approved, provided that the man concerned satisfactorily passed a medical examination by the Canadian Authorities and was found in Category A as fit for General Service. All individuals applying for enlistment in England were advised that their applications could not be considered unless they furnished a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship issued by the High Commissioner for Canada in London. This Certificate was only issued by the High Commissioner after he had satisfied himself that the man's claim as to Canadian citizenship was well founded. In addition, all applicants had to submit to examination by the Canadian Medical Authorities and be found fit for General Service.

The applicant having fulfilled these conditions was sent to a territorially affiliated Reserve Unit. There he was again medically examined, and if considered fit, was enlisted. His completed documents were returned to the Adjutant-General's Branch and a record kept of his enlistment. The documents were sent to the Canadian Record Office, London, and a copy of the Attestation Paper sent to the Department of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, for custody. The man's Certificate of Canadian Citizenship was kept on file in the Adjutant-General's Branch.

The number of enlistments completed in England from the beginning of the War to December, 1918, was 1,733, representing approximately 10 per cent. of the applications actually received, the balance of applications having been rejected either as a result of medical examination or through inability to produce the requisite Certificate of Citizenship.

In some cases applicants were unwilling to persist in their applications after they had filed them.

Except in special circumstances applications for enlistment in England were only accepted for service in the Infantry.


Prior to the Armistice the discharge of Canadian Other Ranks in England might be roughly divided into two classes-those who were discharged in order that they might accept commissions or be re-engaged on some branch of the Imperial Service, and those who were discharged to civil life or to engage in work of National Importance. Those of the first class included soldiers whose applications for training with a view to commissioned rank in the Imperial Service had been favourably Adjutant-General's Branch. 45 considered and those who had undergone a course of training at a Cadet School and had been granted a commission in the Imperial Army. It also included those who had been granted commissions under the Admiralty and those who had been appointed Flight Cadets in the Royal Air Force.

The second class consisted of men who might have been asked for by the Imperial Authorities for work of National Importance in such departments as the Ministry of Munitions, the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Shipping. Such men were usually in a low category, and in most cases it was considered that they would be of greater value if they were employed on such work rather than if they continued to serve in a Military capacity. In the same class also came the very infrequent cases of men who were discharged in England on compassionate grounds and also those cases of soldiers boarded for discharge or invaliding to Canada on account of medical unfitness, who had applied for discharge in England.

In respect to the last-named cases it was the settled policy of the Canadian Government that members of the Canadian Forces found no longer fit for War service should be discharged in Canada, and that discharge would not be permitted in England except under very exceptional circumstances and where grave hardship would otherwise be caused to the individual concerned. Applications under this heading were not numerous, but they were very carefully scrutinised as it was not considered advisable that the Canadian Government should allow disabled Canadians to remain in England. In all such cases the application had to be put forward by the man himself, and it should be clearly understood that before the application was allowed it was necessary to prove that very great hardship would be entailed if the applicant were returned to Canada. In addition the man was required to provide written guarantees by a responsible citizen in England to the effect that he would not become a charge upon the public, and it was also necessary that he should furnish a Magistrate's Certificate to the effect that the person acting as guarantor was able to fulfil his obligations.

All discharges in England were carried out through the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot in London, and on being discharged the soldier was required to sign a waiver of any claim against the Canadian Government for free transportation to Canada. He was also required to sign a statement that he understood that by being discharged in England he would not be entitled 46 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

to receive the three months' bonus of pay under the arrangement which was then in existence. He was given the usual Discharge Character Certificates, and when his documents were completed they were sent for custody to the Officer in Charge of the Canadian Record Office, London, by the Officer Commanding the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot.

Present Policy re Discharges in British Isles.—Since the Armistice, it has been laid down that a soldier may only receive his discharge in the British Isles provided (a) He was born in the British Isles.

(b) He has no dependents in Canada.

(c) He has dependents or relatives in the British Isles in such circumstances as warrant his retention here for financial or domestic reasons.

(d) He has a bona-fide offer of employment or has independent means of support irrespective of any pay or gratuity payable by the Government.


Provided that the Commanding Officer of the Unit from which the soldier desired to transfer and the Commanding Officer of the Unit to which he desired to be transferred were in concurrence, no objection was raised to such transfer, provided it was from one combatant Unit to another.

Did a soldier fit for general service desire to transfer from a combatant to a non-combatant Unit, his application, if it had been duly recommended by the Commanding Officers of both Units, had to be submitted to the Adjutant-General's Department, and the application was not granted unless weighty reasons were shown for its being approved.

An example of such a reason would be in the case of a man highly qualified in a technical way for work in a non-combatant Unit, such as the Forestry Corps or the Railway Troops, provided that there were a shortage of technical men in the Unit which required his services. It was, however, in any case, if the application were granted, the duty of the Commanding Officer of a noncombatant Unit to return the soldier so transferred to his combatant Unit as soon as his place could be filled by a man unfit for General Service.

Adjutant-General's Branch. 47

–  –  –

Allocation and Employment of Low Category Men.

Bearing in mind the fact that only men of the highest medical condition were of value as fighting troops, and as it early became apparent that the War would be of long duration, the question of the economic use of men became one of a pressing nature. It was, therefore, necessary to liberate, from Units other than those Units actually engaged in fighting, all men who, under the system of Medical Categorisation, were marked Category A, and to use to the best advantage men of the lower categories for any Units which might be termed " Non-Fighting Troops."

Economy in man-power, too, made it necessary to ensure that the right man was doing the right work. With this object in view, experiments were made with several schemes and eventually it was decided to form a special Branch, under a selected officer in the Adjutant-General's Department, to undertake this work. Under the direction of this officer was a Board composed of officers who, in civil life, were themselves employers of labour or who were engaged in work similar to that which was being done by those Branches of the Service which -were not classed as " Fighting Troops," such as the Forestry Corps, Labour Units and Railway Troops. This Board commenced its work in April, 1918.

No set rules for the allocation of men could be laid down,. but in collaboration with the Medical Service the type of work which men in the various categories were capable of was fairly clearly defined, and the Board was given discretionary powers to allocate men to those branches of the Service to which it was considered such men would be most valuable.

The first duty of the Board was to review all the Low Category men employed in England to ensure that each man was employed according to his trade qualifications, and in accordance with the work which his medical condition allowed him to do. The Board, therefore, visited all Canadian Areas and Formations in England and carried out inspections and made recommendations for transfers, which were effected as expeditiously as possible; and for substitutions, which were carried out more or less gradually and methodically in order that none of the Services concerned should be dislocated.

48 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

Having completed this work, the next phase was the disposal of men who, through wounds or sickness were lowered in category and became available for disposal on completion of their hospitalisation. It was at this time decided that great benefit would be derived from giving all men, regardless of the category in which they might have been discharged from Hospital, a course of " hardening " treatment at the Command Depots. Previous to this, " hardening " treatment had been confined to men who were discharged from Hospital as potential Category A men, such as men placed in the Temporary Category of Dl. With the exception, therefore, of those men engaged on clerical or administrative work in England, or those who had been admitted to Hospital as local casualties, and who on completion of hospitalisation were fit to return to their former employments, arrangements were completed for hospital patients to be discharged from Hospital to the Command Depots.

On arrival at Command Depots, these men were graded for training according to their medical condition, and arrangements were made for the Allocation Board to visit the Command Depots periodically and inspect the men who were expected to be discharged from the Command Depots in a Low Category. Such men were brought before the Board one week prior to their expected discharge.

The Board allocated the men to whatever duty it was determined they were capable of carrying out, and on discharge from the Command Depot the men were sent direct to their new Unit, the Command Depot arranging with the Regimental Depot or Reserve Unit upon whose strength such men were carried, to complete their transfer so far as the necessary Order, entries and documentation were concerned. Under this arrangement no time was lost in disposing of the soldier, as he was no longer returned to the Unit carrying him on its strength, there to await allocation by the Board.

In addition to this source of supply of Low Category men, there were also the men who broke down in category whilst undergoing training, or who broke down in category whilst carrying out their duties (other than training) in England. These men were immediately posted to their Regimental Depots and were again brought before the Allocation Board on the Board's first visit to that Area.

In the process of examining Low Category men, the Board continually had to dispose of men who were not fit for any Adjutant-General's Branch. 49 work in England upon the economic basis laid down. This provided that a man must be able to do 60 per cent, of the day's work required of a Category A man. Men who could not reach this standard were regarded as uneconomic to the Canadian Military Forces in England, and arrangements were therefore made for their immediate return to Canada.

It sometimes happened that a man allocated by the Board for duty with one of the Units or Services in England was found to be unfit to carry out the work which he had been given to do. He was then again brought before the Allocation Board when the Commanding Officer of his Unit stated why he did not consider the man to be fit for duty. The Board then allocated the man to some other Unit for duty or marked him for return to Canada, the Board basing its final decision on the new facts placed before it.

It will be seen that the duties of the Board were of an exceedingly difficult nature, but it carried out its work with great efficiency and fairness, and its labours resulted in effecting a saving of the greatest possible amount of Man-Power in the Overseas Military Forces of Canada


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