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Lecture 4

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Western University
History 1810E
Margaret Mc Glynn

History 1810E Wednesday January 15 Lecture 4 Not Over by Christmas Outline: I. War Fever II. Joining Up III. The Opsting Battles IV. The 1 Contingent Overseas V. To the Western Front 1. War Fever • At this time, no one could have imagined the level of loss and involvement in the war (they thought it would be short) • The question that young men were asking was not “am I going to be killed?”, but “will the war end before I have a chance to take part?” • Hamilton Gault – a Montreal millionaire who bought his way into the war (he didn’t want to miss out) o He enjoyed the military lifestyle and served in the war in South Africa in 1899 o He saw the war as a remarkable opportunity, but like everyone else was worried that the war would end before he got there o He decided to create his own regiment and fund it himself, and then he would offer it to the British regiment o Gault asked if he could name his regiment after the Duke of Cannaught’s daughter, Princess Patricia of Cannaught (one of the most eligible women of Canadian society) o The regiment became known as Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry o He recruited mostly British immigrants in Canada who had military experience  From 3000 volunteers, they selected 1098 men  More than 90% were born in Britain (recent immigrants)  All but 49 had previous military experience o The unit went overseas as soon as possible and was involved in the first significant battles of the war • Overall, there were far more volunteers than they needed (every unit had to turn people away) o Because of this, they decided that Canada would send another contingent overseas (about another 30,000 men) • Authorized strength of the Canadian Expeditionary Force: o Sept. 1914  36,000 o Nov. 1914  76,000 o July 1915  150,000 o Oct. 1915  250,000 o Jan. 1916  500,000 o This is an example of Canada’s war fever 2. Joining Up • Each volunteer would have been asked to fill out a form (an Attestation Paper) with questions including: o Name and address o Next of kin o Date of birth o Marital status  About 80% were single when they first enlisted, partly because of policy – unmarried men were taken before married men  For the first year of the war, if you were married, you needed your wife’s written consent before you could enlist o Whether you belong to the Active Militia/had military experience  First pick went to those who had experience, but many of the men lied about their experience (an indication of war fever) o Occupation  The largest category at this time was agricultural, and then white- collar workers o If you were willing to be vaccinated (but there really wasn’t a choice if you joined the army) o Apparent age (you didn’t actually have to provide any proof of your age) o Height (average height was 5’5”/5’6”)  The military would accept you down to 5’3”  Later in the war they accepted volunteers down to 4’8” (there were a surprising number of them in Canada at this time) o Lung capacity to determine general fitness  They would measure your chest with a full intake of air and then after you blew the air out o Religious denomination  The largest community were Anglicans (about 30%), then Catholics (23%)  However if you didn’t declare a religion or were an atheist, you would be written down as an Anglican  The list of religions were all Christian except for Judaism (reflects the religious make-up of Canadian society at the time) • The Canadian army was 97% Anglo or French (not very diverse) o They would write names out phonetically (not necessarily as they were spelled) • The age range was officially between 18 and 45, but the average age was 26 o You needed your parents’ permission if you were under 21 OR if you were the only son they depended on (no matter your age) • You would have signed up for however long the war lasted, plus 6 months after the war would end • The army looked for specific physical characteristics: o Sufficiently intelligent (subjective) o Speech without impediment o A capacious chest (thought to contribute to your overall physical fitness) o Sound heart and lungs (they would just do a quick check with a stethoscope) o Well-formed limbs o You had to have all your fingers, but could be missing 1 or 2 toes o You had to be able to hear a normal human voice at 10 paces o You had to see a human hand at 10 paces (they didn’t take this too seriously as long as you weren’t entirely blind) • Medical grounds for rejection: o Tuberculosis o
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