Abstract: Under the War Veterans Allowance Act (1930) some veterans of the War in South Africa (1899-1902) became eligible for support from the Canadian government. The terms of eligibility and the discourse around granting these pension allowances echo debates during the war itself, with a focus on the men’s physicality and an ambiguity about the country’s relations with the British Empire. The act required both military service and impecunity of the veterans it proposed to assist. The veterans’ interactions with the government, asserting both need and earned reward, position the Act as a significant point of transition in the country’s discourse about what supports citizens had a right to expect from their government..
JONATHAN F. VANCE
Abstract: After the First World War, Canadian veterans created a culture that celebrated the camaraderie, sense of purpose, and light-hearted moments of their experience as soldiers. Much like the trench culture of the war years, it poked fun at misfortune, satirized the enemy, and presumed that a stiff drink could make any situation better. Veteran culture provided ex-soldiers in the 1920s and 1930s with the mutual support they needed to get through difficult times, but it was a milieu in which the excessive consumption of alcohol was accepted and even encouraged. This had little impact on the settled, well-adjusted veteran but for the ex-soldier who was struggling in the postwar world, it could be a recipe for disaster.
Abstract: Despite long-time interest in links between the Great War and concepts of a Lost Generation, there have been few efforts to study veteran lifespans. The death dates of Canadian pensioned veterans recorded in the Department of Veterans Affairs pensions files, combined with those recorded in department’s death cards, offers an opportunity to quantify not just veteran life expectancy, but actual lifespans. The ensuing analysis of pensioned veteran lifespans suggests that research conducted in the mid 1930s by F. S. Burke for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which concluded that pensioned veteran life expectancy would exceed that of the average Canadian male, was incorrect. Instead of living longer than the average Canadian male, based on the Pension Sample compiled for this study, it appears that the number of pensioners who died young after the war is almost as high as the number of soldiers killed during the conflict.
Abstract: Using newly available records from the Veterans Affairs Pension Files, doctors’ notes and Veterans’ Hospital records, this article explores how war neurosis was simultaneously a personal and public event. Veterans were required to describe symptoms that breached masculine ideals to demonstrate that their disability impacted their daily lives. Ex-servicemen were caught in a delicate balance between following the soldier ideal and describing their symptoms accurately. War neurosis not only impacted veterans in the private examining room of the pension administrator it also affected their ability to find and maintain employment and the lives of their family members. The more public their symptoms became, the more difficult it was to contain their diagnosis. Family members worked tirelessly to assist returned men with their symptoms and took on new responsibilities in the home. When these symptoms could not be managed in the home, families and veterans began to look for new options, such as permanent hospitalisation at Westminster Hospital in London, Ontario, an institution specifically created for veterans with mental illnesses.
SERGE MARC DURFLINGER
An examination of the pension files of men having served in the 22nd Battalion (canadien-français), the Canadian Corps’ only French-speaking line battalion, situates veterans into a specific ethno-linguistic and, more generally, socio-economic context. This article seeks to illuminate some of the many personal crises that could, and commonly did, afflict veterans, their families and their survivors. It demonstrates that beyond the devastation of serious physical or psychological wounding, many of Canada’s returned men, perhaps far more than we imagined, suffered persistent ill health, financial distress and family estrangement. Almost without exception, the sixty 22nd Battalion case files examined for this article revealed wounded or ill veterans’ poverty, despair, and their struggle to survive from month to month.
This review offers a detailed and representative cross-section of the postwar lives and pension experiences of veterans having served together and who frequently came from the same cities or regions. While no two battalions shared identical compositions and war experiences, there were broad commonalities between many of them having seen front-line service for about the same period. The findings from the 22nd Battalion veterans’ files likely would be similar to the experiences of men from many other battalions, and to those of their survivors.
WILLIAM JOHN PRATT
Abstract: This study of forty-five military pension files of Indigenous First World War veterans of the Treaty 4, 6 and 7 regions shows that the racist perspectives and structures of settler colonialism on the Prairies could prevent just administration of benefits. Pension files of Indigenous veterans expose the tragedy of their lives during and after the First World War. Many soldiers had lingering pains and ailments as a result of the war, as well as continuing problems shaking the gaze of settler colonialism, which seemed unable to view them as both Indigenous and veterans. Despite the numerous legal and cultural obstacles to being treated equally to other veterans, many Indigenous men and their families were paid pensions, which were valuable, especially during the hardships on First Nations reserves in the interwar years.
Abstract: Widows’ pensions were a vital source of income following the loss of a spouse during and after the war. While soldiers enlisted with the promise that their families would be taken care of, accessing state assistance could be exceedingly difficult. In addition to proving their husband’s death was connected to their wartime service, widows also had to meet contemporary ideals about gender, sexuality and motherhood. These pensions provided more financial support than any other social welfare system available at the time. However, pension regulations governed widows’ daily lives and influenced major life events such as marriage and childrearing.
Abstract: This article analyses the federal government pension files of forty Canadian women who nursed for the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC), exploring aspects of their health, work and family lives in the decades immediately following the First World War. The sample exclusively features nurses with ties to the region of Southwestern Ontario but in demographic terms is also largely representative of the entire body of CAMC nurses. Collectively, the files depict nurse veterans who mobilized their medical knowledge and professional networks when faced with challenging health situations, pursued diverse postwar employment strategies, and in some cases played crucial roles in the financial support of their kin. Clearly, the First World War did not discriminate by gender when it came to casting a long shadow over the health, careers and family relationships of those who served.
CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM – MUSÉE CANADIEN DE LA GUERRE
This article presents a selection of artworks, archival material and artifacts from the Canadian War Museum (CWM) that illuminate how Canadians—soldiers and civilians— have experienced and endured war. By focusing on the themes of death, grief and memorialisation, these items convey how Canadians have borne the sacrifice of war, and the way in which those losses have been memorialised in ways both public and private.
Cet article présente une sélection d’oeuvres d’art, de documents d’archives et d’artefacts du Musée canadien de la guerre (MCG) qui illustrent la façon dont les Canadiens – soldates et civils – ont vécu et enduré la guerre. En mettant l’accent sur les thèmes de la mort, du chagrin et de la commémoration, ces articles montrent comment les Canadiens ont supporté le sacrifice de la guerre et la façon dont ces pertes ont été commémorées de manière publique et privée.
RYAN GOLDSWORTHY & J. L. GRANATSTEIN
Of Canada’s long military history, Vimy is the one battle that most Canadians will know. Some will be familiar with Passchendaele, D-Day or the disasters at Hong Kong and Dieppe. Canadians should know the Hundred Days because the battles that constitute that offensive were almost certainly the most important victories ever won by Canadian soldiers. This article analyses the various reasons for the stunning Canadian successes of that war-winning offensive: chiefly the Canadian experience and doctrine; the state of the enemy and the Allies; artillery and counter-battery fire (the most important tactical arm); and logistics and administration. Ultimately, as the Hundred Days’ spearhead with replenishable manpower and with near unmatched firepower, experience, ingenuity, organisation, leadership, reputation and material resources, the Canadian Corps was the decisive war-winning formation on the Western Front.
ROBERT C. ENGEN
Review of The Forgotten Front: The Eastern Theater of World War I, 1914-1915 edited by Gerhard P. Gross
Review of The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon’s Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I by Lindsey Fitzharris
Review of Strategy and Command: The Anglo-French Coalition on the Western Front, 1915 by Roy A. Prete
Review of Dublin’s Great Wars: The First World War, the Easter Rising, and the Irish Revolution by Richard S. Grayson
JEREMY P. MAXWELL
Review of War Memories: Commemoration, Recollections and Writings on War edited by Stephanie A.H. Bélanger and Renée Dickason
Review of Prisoners of War and Local Women in Europe and the United States, 1914–1956: Consorting with the Enemy edited by Matthias Reiss and Brian K. Feltman
Since its launch in 1992, Canadian Military History has become one of the premier journals in its field. CMH is a peer-reviewed academic journal published bi-annually by the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada with editorial and financial support from theCanadian War Museum. Its purpose is to foster research, teaching and public discussion of historical and contemporary military and strategic issues.