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Canadian deserter - was there amnesty after the war ?


Dalziel
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I am trying to find out what happened after the war for those who deserted in the Canadian Military. I know of a case where a man enlisted in 1915 but was discharged within a month of enlistment as "not likely to make an efficient soldier" (no details given). Then he was conscripted in 1917 but deserted in Jan 1918. He then assumed a new name, married a few months later and had a  child under the assumed name. In 1923 or so he resumed his original name.

I had heard there was an amnesty for deserters but I could find no details. Can anyone link me to what actually took place after the war in regards to deserters?

 

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Hi @Dalziel and welcome to the forum.

There was no conscription in Canada in the Great War - it remained an all volunteer force.

Service records are freely available at the Library and Archives Canada website, so have you checked out the actual records for his second period of enlistment to confirm there is nothing noted there. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/search.aspx

Cheers,
Peter

 

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4 minutes ago, PRC said:

Hi @Dalziel and welcome to the forum.

There was no conscription in Canada in the Great War - it remained an all volunteer force.

Service records are freely available at the Library and Archives Canada website, so have you checked out the actual records for his second period of enlistment to confirm there is nothing noted there. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/search.aspx

Cheers,
Peter

 

 

Hi,

Yes I have the personnel records for the man. Conscription certainly did occur!

https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/life-at-home-during-the-war/recruitment-and-conscription/conscription-1917/

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Thanks Dalziel I wasn't aware of that either.

Everyday's a school day here
 

George

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I wasn't aware of conscription for Canada either, but I rarely look at overseas stuff.

If they weren't pardoned earlier they may have been in 1939 as part of a decision made then - https://www.nytimes.com/1939/10/18/archives/canada-to-pardon-deserters.html

Mass pardons to deserters weren't uncommon pre and post-war across the empire, but usually to allow men to re-join.

Craig

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2 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:

I wasn't aware of conscription for Canada either, but I rarely look at overseas stuff.

If they weren't pardoned earlier they may have been in 1939 as part of a decision made then - https://www.nytimes.com/1939/10/18/archives/canada-to-pardon-deserters.html

Mass pardons to deserters weren't uncommon pre and post-war across the empire, but usually to allow men to re-join.

Craig

Thanks Craig, Unfortunately the article is behind a pay wall. I think there may have been an amnesty a few years after the war as the man in question resumed his correct surname about 1923. On the other hand I can find no information on line that alludes to it. Perhaps it was not a formal declaration but a tacit one.

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May help

On 22 December 1919, an amnesty was proclaimed for the estimated 15,000 deserters on the run in Canada, as well as about that many who were serving prison ...

 

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4 minutes ago, George Rayner said:
 
On 22 December 1919, an amnesty was proclaimed for the estimated 15,000 deserters on the run in Canada, as well as about that many who were serving prison ...

Far larger number than I was expecting.

Craig

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Conscription in Canada during the Great War:

https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/life-at-home-during-the-war/recruitment-and-conscription/conscription-1917/

Quote

The federal government decided in 1917 to conscript young men for overseas military service. Voluntary recruitment was failing to maintain troop numbers, and Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden believed in the military value, and potential post-war influence, of a strong Canadian contribution to the war.

 

Not All Were Volunteers; The RCR and the Military Service Act - http://www.regimentalrogue.com/rcr_great_war_soldiers/rcr_and_the_msa.html

Edited by regimentalrogue
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59 minutes ago, George Rayner said:

May help

On 22 December 1919, an amnesty was proclaimed for the estimated 15,000 deserters on the run in Canada, as well as about that many who were serving prison ...

 

Thanks George,
With the date you mentioned I was able to find an newspaper article on the proclamation. Remarkable how little press coverage was given to it. This was the only article I could find quickly  and most of it was talking about wartime Whisky restrictions. No details on whether the deserter had to apply or it was automatic. I have copied the transcript below.
AMNESTY TO CANADIAN
MILITARY OFFENDERS
.WHISKY RESTRICTIONS
RESCINDED .
(Renter's Message.)
Ottawa, December 20.
The Canadian. Cabinet has passed an
order, granting amnesty - to .military
offenders, and this releases prisoners
under the Military Services Act.
An important, feature of the new
order rescinds the war-time restrictions
against liquor. The result «ill be that'
the inter-provincial traffic in whisky
will be resumed,, though not affecting
prohibition in each province. Here-
after Toronto people can order liquor
for ' home use from Montreal, while'
Winnipeg will send to Calgary and
Vancouver, and vice versa.
Trainloads of liquor are waiting ship-
ment westward from Montreal. Exten-
sive imports are also planned from
Hongkong and other China ports,
where large stocks of Scotch whisky are j
reported to exist.
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I suspect the second part of the order was more important to many.

Craig

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