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The current time is: 12/11/2017 8:28:54 AM
 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/29/2017 3:59:06 PM

Quote:
Nothing is to be gained by blinking facts. The civilized negro is vain and imitative; in Canada he is not being impelled to enlist by a high sense of duty; in the trenches he is not likely to make a good fighter; and the average white man will not associate with him on terms of equality. Not a single commanding officer in Military District No. 2 is willing to accept a coloured platoon as part of his battalion (H.Q. 297-1-29); and it would be humiliating to the coloured men themselves to serve in a battalion where they were not wanted.


Written by the Chief of the General Staff of the Militia, Maj. Gen. W. Gwatkin, in April of 1916.

Gwatkin was English but please do not read into that.


Black Canadians have been in Canada since the beginning of colonization.

They have been involved in fighting either for Britain or for Canada since the American Revolutionary War.

There was a considerable number of black people in the 13 colonies who fought for Britain and with the US victory, many were transported to British colonies.

Many of the black population of Nova Scotia and parts of New Brunswick can trace their roots back to the American revolution and to slavery before that.


When WW1 broke out and these men wanted to enlist, they were discouraged by the recruiters who told them that this was a "white man's war."


There were other black people in Canada and here and there are dotted the names of black soldiers who, through persistence and a co-operative recruiter, managed to make it to front line combat units. In total, about 2000 black Canadians managed to enlist in combat units.

But many others were discouraged.

With that the black leaders in Nova Scotia pressed for the creation of a black battalion.

Finally in July of 1916, the government agreed to allow the raising of a black battalion. However, they would not be permitted to fight in the infantry battalions.

So the #2 Construction Battalion was raised in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Most of the 600 men came from Nova Scotia but also other provinces and from the USA.

The battalion arrived in France late in 1917 and served with the Canadian Forestry Corps.


I think it is important to note this battalion because it is the only battalion, segregated by race, to have ever served with the Canadian Forces.

These were people often with deeper roots in this country than the men who were recruited for the infantry battalions.

There was racism in Canada. There still is.

Despite that, these men chose to serve their country and we should honour them for their persistence and patience with the rest of us.

It is difficult for me to read these recruitment posters.





It was only a couple of years ago that the government issued a commemorative stamp:



Just last year, the town of Pictou honoured the men of CDN #2 Construction Battalion with a march past of people wearing original uniforms.

It was the 100th anniversary of the raising of the battalion.

Most of the re-enactors had relatives who had served and one is a serving member of the Canadian Forces today.




Canadians and perhaps others may be interested in this series of documents that chronicles the fight by African-Canadians to be permitted to fight on an equal basis with their fellow white Canadians.

[Read More]

It seems that we are reconciling with a lot of minority groups in this country. For this one, it is about time.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 1442
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/29/2017 8:03:15 PM
George, are you getting some of your wars jumbled?
Quote:
Black Canadians have been in Canada since the beginning of colonization.

They have been involved in fighting either for Britain or for Canada since the American Revolutionary War.

There were a considerable number of black people in the 13 colonies who fought for Britain and with the US victory, many were transported to British colonies.

Many of the black population of Nova Scotia and parts of New Brunswick can trace their roots back to the American revolution and to slavery before that.

Seems to me that your final sentence refers to the Civil War rather than the Rebellion of 1776. If I'm misreading your post, please accept my apologies.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 1442
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/29/2017 9:03:26 PM
Thanks for this, George.

Quote:
Nothing is to be gained by blinking facts. The civilized negro is vain and imitative; in Canada he is not being impelled to enlist by a high sense of duty; in the trenches he is not likely to make a good fighter; and the average white man will not associate with him on terms of equality. Not a single commanding officer in Military District No. 2 is willing to accept a coloured platoon as part of his battalion (H.Q. 297-1-29); and it would be humiliating to the coloured men themselves to serve in a battalion where they were not wanted.


Written by the Chief of the General Staff of the Militia, Maj. Gen. W. Gwatkin, in April of 1916.

Makes you proud to be Canajen, eh?

Between the wars, Canada grew more tolerant, of course. By 1941, we decided to target Japanese-Canadians. That allowed us to be aes not just for colour, but also for language, dress and culture. Facial characteristics were covered simply, by calling them "Slants".


Quote:
.Gwatkin was English but please do not read into that.
Why not? In 1916 Canada was a colony of Great Britain. As a colony, and since long before our confederation, Canada had been sent the products of English social and penal ineptitude (yes, I mean English, though in theory all partners in Great Britain were involved). The Irish came in waves. So did the Scots. So, of course, did a lot of Englishmen. I'm not mentioning Wales and the Welsh, because I haven't read much about them coming to the New World.

Most were poor, whether Irish, Scottish or English. But we got our fair measure of well-connected Brits as well. Capable, educated, and often not very nice. Second, third and fourth sons with no meaningful inheritance, and often no indication of personal capabilities to keep them expected style. Sent by their families to places where they would no longer be an embarrassment. Sent with a small annuity on the understanding they would never return. And, from time to time, some of these folks attained positions of some significance in Canadian society. Like becoming a Major-General in the Canadian Militia, which – let it be said – was a de facto social club of the colonial Canadian elite, and very little else.

The voice George is quoting isn't English or Canadian or any other nationality. You're hearing the voice of privilege without the corresponding values of duty or decency. Canada was riddled with that kind of crap, and was expected to use it as a model for values and actions. And to a large extent, Canadians bought in.

George is talking about Black troops during WW1, of course, not about general Canadian attitudes to Black people. But the repulsive values behind the comments of Gwatkin and his ilk reflect more than the treatment of Black troops during wartime. They reflect to a large extent the attitudes of most Canadians who, in 1916, could call themselves White, European, Protestant (with a bye to some pesky Italian Catholics) and "blendable". Argued from that point of view, I go back to that wonderful comment from Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."!!

Canada's pride, IMHO, is that we are trying to do better. It's a slow process and there are a lot of dead ends, but we're trying.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/29/2017 10:04:17 PM

Quote:
Many of the black population of Nova Scotia and parts of New Brunswick can trace their roots back to the American revolution and to slavery before that.


Hi Brian,

When the Revolution was lost, there were thousands of blacks who had been promised freedom if they agreed to assist the British.

The British tried to be good to their word and they transported 3, 000 black Loyalists on ships that sailed from New York harbour for Nova Scotia.

American slave owners came to New York to claim their property and in some cases they did if it could not be proven that the black person had indeed performed service for the British forces.

It is said that George Washington was livid that the British were taking the legal property of some Americans including at least one of his.

The names of these black Loyalists who comprised the first settlement of black people in Nova Scotia were all diligently recorded in the Book of Negroes, a copy of which is on file in Washington. The book includes names and a description of the person.

There were also departures of black Americans from Savannah, Georgia and Charlotte, South Carolina to British colonies though not as much is known about them.

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 4:47:49 AM
This is such a challenging topic : we have to deal with our own feelings of disgust when we countenance the harsh way black people were treated....it makes us angry and ashamed. Let's not kid ourselves ; it's still going on.

It needs to be aired, though.

I'm intrigued at the different approach of the French. They were not fastidious about unleashing their feared Senegalese warriors against the Bosche.

Perhaps their enlightened approach stemmed from a need to conserve their white males.

Mangin was an advocate of using these black soldiers. He went on record as stating that they were more inured to pain than their white counterparts, and he was determined to exploit this on the field of battle .

At the same time, he was outraged by some of the restrictions that were imposed on them. His black soldiers were denied access to brothels that white soldiers used : I'm not sure about the whys and wherefores of this ban ; but Mangin won his argument and the black men were allowed access to white women.

There is, of course, a difference : the Senegalese soldiers were not natives of France. When they had done their work, they could go home. The black Canadians, however, were permanent residents and this made a difference to what expedients were adopted.

Incidentally, the French used the African soldiers when they occupied German territory after the war, and it was something that outraged the Germans; especially when a significant number of children were born as a result of black men consorting with white German women. Those children were sterilised by the Nazis.

Have you encountered the story of Walter Tull ?

Regards , Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 7:00:04 AM
I had to look it up Phil but Tull was the first black British officer.

I shall leave it to you to tell his story.

And I must add that if the commandant of a Canadian regiment approved the enlistment of a black man, then that person was allowed to fight.

So we have examples of black Canadians who fought in infantry battalions and were decorated for bravery.

I have been looking and I cannot find anything that says that the Canadian government banned their enlistment.

EDIT: It is worth noting that when the "Black Battalion" was raised in 1916, enlistment had fallen from 30,000 per month to 6,000 in 1916. With a stated goal of 500,000 in uniform, there was a reason to recruit black Canadians.
The second war started in the same manner for black Canadians but rather quickly the policy changed as the war progressed and hundreds served in infantry battalions.

Cheers,

George

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
Posts: 687
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 8:51:22 AM
Gwatkin's attitude toward blacks seems very similar to that held by many, or perhaps most, U.S. officers. The AEF did of course employ black troops, but almost uniformly behind the lines. Opportunities for blacks to become officers were very limited and such as did make the effort were subject to extreme descrimination. The army made things worse for itself by deciding that southern whites were best suited to command black troops. The problem was, many of these men were extremely prejudiced toward blacks. At the same time, many blacks had migrated to the north since the Civil War, and become accustomed to at least relatively more acceptance. The result was predictable.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
Posts: 459
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 8:57:49 AM

Quote:
The army made things worse for itself by deciding that southern whites were best suited to command black troops.--Jim Cameron


Hi Jim,

I find it alarming that two generations after the American Civil War was supposed to have ended institutional views like this, that black soldiers were still being treated as herded animals that had to be handled in a specific way, by a specific person with a specific set of skills and views.

Were there are any official Army orders that set out that southern white officers were to be specially assigned roles within the US Colored regiments?

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 10:48:07 AM
Colin,

The Civil War ended slavery ; but that just presented the problem of " the negro " in an even starker form.

Jim Crow was flourishing even in my lifetime.

Forgive me for stating the bleeding obvious, but it stands reiteration.

It bothers me that recent BBC TV dramas about the Great War have depicted black soldiers as if they were normally present for combat in the British front lines. By glossing over the fact of segregation, the thing becomes grotesque as an excercise in wishful thinking.

In the immediate post war years, black labour units were used to clear battlefields and recover the dead. British people complained about this : they did not want their loved ones to be handled by " heathen black savages " .

OTOH, the story of Walter Tull attests a different aspect .

His body, incidentally, was never recovered for identified burial.

A black officer died leading white British soldiers.

Fifty five years earlier, a white American officer died leading black American soldiers. When his parents enquired as to where his remains might be found, the confederates told them We've buried him in the ditch with his niggers .

His mother and father were content to leave him there, because , they said, there could be no holier place for him to rest, and no finer comrades to accompany him.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
Posts: 687
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 10:55:21 AM
Not sure about if it was a formal policy, or more of an unstated preference.
It wasn't as if the Army didn't have successful experience with black troops, including, Pershing himself. But a lot of that was in situations where black troops could be kept well isolated from white society. A mass, draftee Army was a whole different matter. And especially so with many of the new training camps located in the south. Racial antagonisms which could be minimized in a small, constabulary army by stationing black units in remote posts now could not be avoided.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 11:09:13 AM
In the British army, only white officers of a special calibre were allowed to lead Indian soldiers.

These officers had to be conversant with the different languages, religions and cultural sensibilities of the men they commanded.

The wounded Indian soldiers were sent to a special hospital in Brighton : actually, The Regency Pavilion .

They were segregated ; but they were held in high regard by the local people, who lavished them with gifts and sought their company .

Whether this was a form of condescension, or a genuine feeling of gratitude to heroes who had come so far to fight for Britain and Empire in the grim Flanders winter of 1914-15, is a question which excercises me.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 4:26:19 PM

Quote:
Gwatkin's attitude toward blacks seems very similar to that held by many, or perhaps most, U.S. officers. The AEF did of course employ black troops, but almost uniformly behind the lines. Opportunities for blacks to become officers were very limited and such as did make the effort were subject to extreme descrimination. The army made things worse for itself by deciding that southern whites were best suited to command black troops. The problem was, many of these men were extremely prejudiced toward blacks. At the same time, many blacks had migrated to the north since the Civil War, and become accustomed to at least relatively more acceptance. The result was predictable.
--Jim Cameron


Gwatkin's remarks would not be out of place if made in some parts of the US Jim, would they?

Who would have thought that there was racism in Canada?

Canada of course did not have anywhere near the size of the US black population and so some of us have convinced ourselves that discrimination was a US phenomenon.

It is true that slaves made their way here using the Underground Railroad before and during your civil war. Some did very well but that doesn't mean that all of the people had embraced the concept of equality of the races.

White and black Canadians had written to the government and especially eccentric Minister of Defence, Sam Hughes to protest that black men were being turned away at recruitment offices.

Feeling pressure, Hughes issued orders that no person was to be turned away because of race.

In practice, it was the local commander who was trying to fill the quota for his regiment, who made the decision about black soldiers.

And even if a man managed to get into an infantry regiment, it was sometimes difficult for him get the recognition due for deeds accomplished.

I recall the story of Jeremiah "Jerry" Jones who enlisted in Nova Scotia in Truro. Truro isn't all that far from Pictou where the construction battalion was raised. But whomever was raising the 106th Battalion (Nova Scotia Rifles) decided to accept him.

Jones lied about his age and he was over 50 when he enlisted. I don't know how he fooled the medical people when he enlisted. Perhaps they didn't care.

Jones fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. He was a private soldier.

His unit was pinned down by MG fire and Jones told his mates to stay put. On his own and hopping from shell crater to shell crater, he attacked the MG emplacement. He threw a grenade and killed some of the Germans. The others surrendered to him.

He ordered his prisoners to pick up the MG and he escorted them to the rear. He said to his officer, "Is this thing any good to you?"

He was recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal. There is no record that says that he ever received the medal.

Jones was wounded at Vimy but recovered and fought at Passchendaele where he was wounded again and sent home in early 1918 as medically. unfit to fight.

In 2010, after extensive lobbying by a Nova Scotia senator, the government acknowledged that this man had been denied recognition because of his race.

Posthumously, he was awarded the Canadian Forces, Medallion for Distinguished Service. Hopefully his family who received the medal can take some solace in the fact that their relative was finally recognized in some way.


Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 5:43:47 PM
George,

Any idea of numbers ?

Apparently, about two per cent of Canada's current population identity themselves as black.

I expect that the proportion was lower one hundred years ago.

Perhaps fewer than one hundred thousand ; the corollary being that about twenty thousand - at most - would have been males of military age.

Perhaps you've already alluded to this. Apologies if you have.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/30/2017 8:32:05 PM
Hello Phil,

The black population of Canada nearly all came from the USA. Almost none were transported from Africa.

There were 3 major migrations. I mentioned about 3000 came after the American Revolution as Loyalists transported by the British. Another 2500 escaped and got to Canada on their own.
About 2000 black slaves accompanied their white United Empire Loyalist master. Most of these were freed in the next couple of decades.

Another 2000 came during and after the War of 1812.

And up to 30,000 arrived as escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad. However, a number of those returned to either fight with the Union army or after the US civil war.

So the 1911 census counted just over 17,000 "Negroes" which was actually fewer than in 1901.

However, it has been reported that the black population was under reported in that period. Don't know why.

Cheers,

George





Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 2:56:41 AM
Thanks George.....my take on this is that four fifths of all the black people residing in Canada just before the Great War were off the census radar.

That is, in itself, significant : it suggests that Canadian authorities were unwilling to give proper countenance to " negroes".

This, of course, depends on how valid my guess is that there were, more or less, one hundred thousand black people living in Canada at the time.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 6:47:18 AM
Very high estimate Phil.

After the US civil war it is estimated that 1/3 of the black Americans who fled to Canada actually returned.

The information that I have is that the population of negroes in Canada in the 1901 census was 17, 400 or .3% of the population.

Nearly all would have come from the states with a few from the Caribbean in those days. Today the black population has much more diverse sources.

There were actually more blacks here in 1881 but migration between Canada and the US was a rather easy and fluid proposition.

Americans would come up here looking for land. Canadians would move to the US in tough times looking for jobs.

Black slaves would flee to freedom here but leave, either to fight for the union or to return to family.

EDIT: I forgot about Immigration Act legislation of 1910 which reinforced and clarified the exclusionary principles behind which the 1906 act was written.
Chinese, blacks and south Asians were all on the list of people, "unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada."

In effect then, from about 1900 there was very little immigration of people who were not Anglo-Saxon.


Even with under reporting of the number of black people, I think that 100,000 is much too high.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 11:12:49 AM
Thanks for putting me straight, here, George.

You can appreciate that , in rough and ready terms, about one fifth of the total population consists of males of military age.

By that criterion, fewer than four thousand black men would have been in that category.

With the advertising that was pitched, seeking recruitment for labour contingents, you would have thought the game was hardly worth the candle if the total number available would have been barely enough for four battalions, even if every single one joined up.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
Posts: 6095
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 11:56:04 AM
You mention labour contingents Phil-as far as I am aware- not having any negroes to segregate-the British Army in WW1 had a 140.000 strong Chinese Labour Corps- overseen mainly by wounded Officer's and NCO's returned; but unfit for front line service.These were part and parcel of the 390,000 strong Army Labour Corps-forerunners of the Pioneer Corps of WW2

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 1:03:28 PM
Hello Phil,

The highest concentration of black Canadians would have been in Ontario and in Nova Scotia.

Black Canadians had fought against the unofficial ban on their participation in the war with letter campaigns to the various levels of government.

They were supported by other Canadians as well.

There were Canadians, black and white, who opposed strongly the creation of any battalions that were segregated by race.

And there would have been Canadians who didn't want any but whites to fight.

So First Nations, Japanese, Chinese and blacks all had to fight for a chance to go over and all were represented in the infantry battalions.

And so the various ethnic communities have done their research as they try to claim their place in the history of the country.

That research reveals names like:

1. Bukam Singh: At least 10 Sikh names have been identified in combat units

2. Louie brothers of BC:

Chinese Canadians. Perhaps 300 volunteered hoping to secure citizenship if they did. Many were employed in labour battalions but some left BC for example where they were not wanted and went to other provinces to enlist in combat regiments.

One of the Louie brothers bought a horse and crossed the Rockies to Calgary so that he could fight.

His brother Wee Hong Louie also enlisted and after the war wound up in Ontario. He was an educated man and when he applied for a business licence, it was denied because of his race.


Quote:
Wee Hong packed up his old army uniform and his campaign medals and sent them to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King with a letter saying he had fought for Canada and was now returning his uniform and medals in protest at being refused a business licence.


BTW, the Louie brothers had been born in Canada.

3. About 222 Japanese Canadians enlisted in the CEF in 1916. Many lived in BC and BC wasn't enlisting Japanese. Many went to Alberta because they had heard that they would be accepted there.
The Japanese too hoped that by showing patriotism, they would be recognized and granted citizenship.

Japanese soldiers were integrated into the infantry battalions, eleven earning military medals for bravery. I believe that most fought in the 10th Battalion out of Calgary.

54, nearly 25% died in combat or died of wounds. Most of the rest had been wounded.

This is Sergeant Masumi Mitsui, MM.

He had fought at Vimy Ridge. He won his Military Medal at Hill 70. He wasn't the only one. Another Japanese-Canadian won the MM on that day. I don't have his name right now.



He was active in the Japanese[Canadian Legion branch after the war and fought for Japanese-Canadians to be granted citizenship. BC did grant the right to vote to Japanese veterans.

In 1941, he and his family were forced to register as aliens for transport to the internment camps in the interior.

The family poultry farm was seized and after the war he never received compensation.

When the announcement came that he was to be interned, he went to the Security Commission and threw his medals on the floor saying, "What good are these. "


I'm not sure that I feel any better recounting these stories but I hope that you get the picture.

The grand plan was to create a Canada made up of caucasians.


Cheers,

George




George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 2:52:57 PM
This is an interesting essay on the Race and Recruitment in WW1

Some interesting things were revealed. Many ethnic groups were actually eager to serve in segregated groups because any success would serve them later when seeking demands post war.

There was a pecking order among the ethnic groups and specifically when the government tried to raise battalions of First Nations, some were insistent that there be no blacks in their battalion.

During the conscription crisis, the ethnic groups who had been denied the vote argued that they were exempt and it was granted.

All governments, federal and provincial were trying to figure out a way to employ ethnic groups in the military without the compulsion to grant the franchise once the war was over.

[Read More]

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
Posts: 2954
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 4:51:31 PM
Why this is as simple as black, & white!?
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 3/31/2017 7:17:48 PM
Great article, George, thanks.

The Japanese were accorded some martial attributes : hardly surprising, since they'd thrashed the Russians a decade earlier .

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 4/1/2017 4:08:41 AM
Social divides in Britain were significantly weakened by the Great War.

I wonder if the same syndrome was at work in respect of racial segregation.

Canada, it appears, blended a good deal of cosmopolitanism with some pretty harsh aspects of white supremacy.

The Japanese contingent took a disproportionate share of bloodshed.

I think on that poem

A.. I was a Have

B.. I was a Have Not

TOGETHER.... What gavest thou, that I gave not ?


Regards , Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 4/1/2017 5:44:38 PM
Hi Phil. If there was a feeling of white supremacy, the caucasians had a good reason to feel that way because nearly everyone had white skin.

That and the fact that the government wanted to ensure that the country remained white and preferably anglo-saxon.



You can see from the chart that 97% of the 7.2 million had European roots.

Of those, 55% were of British origin and 29% were of French origin.

So it wasn't like it is today. Canada is more of a cultural mosaic and our urban centres are very cosmopolitan.

1911? Not so much.


Cheers,

George


Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
Posts: 2954
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 4/2/2017 10:00:31 AM
George,

Your right try driving down Yonge St in Toronto today! I see so many different cultures I'm not sure what country I'm in!?

[Read More]

[Read More]

Oh Canada!

MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 4/2/2017 10:36:29 AM
Dave that second video must have been filmed early on a Sunday morning.

It appeared to be a drive from uptown to downtown on Yonge St. but I didn't sense any of the urgency of work day traffic.

BTW, Yonge St. was once called the longest, continuous street (not highway), in the world. It starts at Lake Ontario and heads north and while it is continuous, it does become Hwy 11 and parts of it are within the Trans-Canada Highway. Sometimes it heads through little towns and the name is changed to something local but yeah, it's one long street, I suppose.

You are correct about the multicultural nature of the city and in fact, all of our urban centres.

We often say that while the US considers itself a "melting pot", our social experiment is more of a "cultural mosaic".

The Multicultural Act assures respect for and acknowledges the legitimacy of all cultures.

As the Act has been practiced however, it seems that we no longer recognize the two core cultures, Anglo and French. There is no definition of Canadian that recognizes the primacy of the two original cultures.

I don't necessarily like to have what is clearly biologically and socially factual, codified in law but the intent is to ensure that the new people will participate fully in the economy and institutions that we all share.

But in 1914, there was no question about core culture. The Anglos felt that they were it and there was some resentment from the French-Canadians.

The Quebeckers had good reason to be upset when war was declared. The Minister of Defence, Sam Hughes, hated them.

There were no provisions for the French language. All commands were in English and most of the officers were Anglos as well.

It is little wonder that they balked at conscription when it was introduced. They wanted no part of a war in support of an English king.


So come to Toronto. There are pockets where ethnic communities choose to live together and Torontonians can tell you where "Little Italy, Portugal, Greece, Jamaica or whatever is located. Other areas are mixed.

Lastly, if you move out of the urban centres into the hinterland, you would have no clue that Canada is one of the most diverse if not the most diverse country in the world.

My little town is distinctly white bread. There is an Indian man who runs the Mr. Sub franchise, a South Korean who runs the convenience store, another South Korean who owns a restaurant and of course, the Chinese family who run the north American style Chinese restaurant that you find in every small town in Canada. That's about it. The rest of us are caucasian and likely born here.

Cheers,

George




brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 1442
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 4/2/2017 7:00:19 PM
Thanks, George, for information I was unaware of.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 1442
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 4/2/2017 8:30:56 PM
My father was for some time (a couple of decades, leading up to 1909) Assistant to the Keeper of Point Atkinson Lighthouse, at the entrance to Vancouver's outer harbour. He was Postmaster for the settlement of Caulfeilds, but assisted with the light not very far to the west. The Keeper at the time was a man by the name of Walter Erwin, who had been Keeper since 1880. I have Erwin's last log book for the "Lt. Hse".

Erwin had been injured in a fall down the lighthouse tower, and had had damaged portions of one leg removed, so as he aged he grew more dependent on assistants. He not only ran the Light, but owned rather extensive orchards in the Caulfeild area. In the log for Point Atkinson light, he mentions often "the Jap" who assists him with his orchard-work. In the year "the Jap" assisted Mr Erwin, only once – IIRC – was he given a name. He was just "the Jap". It was a measure of how visible minorities were viewed.

The same applied to natives. As was normal, many early settlers (nearly all male) formed relationships with First Nations females, often establishing homes and raising children. Yet when "white" women became available, many of these "native" marriages were simply ignored. I guess by the criteria of white society at the time this was understandable: a true marriage required Christian clergy. Native wives and families were often (but not always) abandoned, and the women who were part of such marriages were called "klooches", a possibly insulting term taken from the Chinook trading language (sometimes called Chinook Jargon), popular on NA's West Coast during the 19th century. "Navvy Jack" (a Welshman whose real name was – I couldn't make this up – John Thomas, and an early West Vancouver settler) had a klooch for years, until he married a white woman. His relationship with his klooch was of no legal significance. That was a measure of how First Nations people were viewed.

Similar indicators could be given from a host of stories. Early industry in BC included equipment known as "iron kooches", "iron chinks" and even "iron swedes". Treatment of Chinese labourers imported to help cut the railroad through BC's mountains makes disgusting reading, both in how they were treated during construction and how they were shunned afterward. Cultural isolation of Japanese immigrants bred fear of the unknown, but also economic fear. They were great fishers and great farmers, so there was an economic concern hidden in the more generic xenophobia felt by whites. There was also the horror of the "Katagama Maru" episode, which played out while Europe was winding itself up to commit mass slaughter. I won't try to describe it: just look up "Kamagata Maru". That's the name of a ship chartered to bring South Asians (largely Sikhs?) to Canada in May, 1914. The treatment of Chinese, Japanese and Hindu people was a measure of how "foreigners" were viewed, even by first generation "foreigners" from Blighty or the US.

Sorry, bit of a ramble. But this isn't just history. It remains a living indictment of white arrogance in Canada. My guess is that Oz exhibited the same arrogance. It went far beyond "black" issues, because "blacks" were a proportionately small part of our population. Not, perhaps, in Halifax or parts of New Brunswick. Not even, perhaps, in central Montreal or in Toronto. But west of the lakes the issues were with Metis and First Nations people or Chinks and Japs and Hindus. And the response was to marginalize them in every possible way.

George is, I hope, right when he says that such attitudes are no longer the norm. But those attitudes existed right into my lifetime. And there are still traces of them with us today.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 4/2/2017 8:43:10 PM
You're welcome Brian.

Canadian author, Lawrence Hill, has written a novel entitled, The Book of Negroes.

Published in 2007, the book won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2008 and a couple of other prizes.

The novel traces the life of a young girl, Aminata Dialo who is captured in Africa as a kid and lives her life as a slave until transported to Nova Scotia in 1783 as the British agreed to take her with them.

I enjoyed the novel because it has an historical basis and it captured my imagination. It was very well written, quite riveting.

The document, the Book of Negroes actually exists, one copy in London and one in Washington, but when Lawrence Hill wanted to sell his novel in the US, he was advised that the title would be considered offensive. So the book is sold as "Someone Knows My Name" in the US and in Australia and NZ.

Hill was criticized in parts of Europe as well and the Netherlands protested Hill's use of the word, negroes, in the title.

Ironically, as you may be aware, Lawrence Hill is a black Canadian.


Cheers,

George

BWilson
, Posts: 3506
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 5/2/2017 9:44:28 AM
I'm intrigued at the different approach of the French. They were not fastidious about unleashing their feared Senegalese warriors against the Bosche.

Phil,

 And, I note, for which the Senegalese paid a terrible price after the French defeat in 1940.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 5/2/2017 4:40:06 PM
The Canadians did permit First Nations to enlist and many of those men commented that they were treated no differently by officers and peers while in the military.

It was when they returned home that they reverted to being "just another Indian" as one put it. Benefits for indigenous people who fought was less than for non-indigenous people.


The exact number of FN's who volunteered is not known for sure but at least 4000 is the accepted number.

That is considered to be 1/3 of the FN men in the 18-45 year old age bracket.

But that was only the status Indians, the ones on reserves. Many FN's did not live on reserve and enlistment data does not include Inuit or Métis, who also enlisted in great numbers.

During the Conscription Crisis of 1917, the FN's were exempt but not before arguing for that exemption.


At first, the army tried to enlist all indigenous battalions but there weren't enough so other soldiers had to be added. In the end there were many battalions that had high percentages of FN soldiers and some with none.

Many of the FN from the far north did not even speak English or French and yet they still enlisted. Remarkable really.


Unlike the stories told of the stereotypical Canadian woodsman, cowboy or lumberjack who supposedly made up the Canadian Corps, in the case of the First Nations recruits, some of the skills required to become valuable soldiers were stereotypically true in their case.

Many could shoot and track and travel quickly through the woods. Many became snipers and runners and scouts in recce patrols.

They were popular it seems as non-aboriginal Canadians had close contact with people with whom they only knew as stereotypical Indians. There are not many stories of discrimination in the ranks.

About 50 FN's, presumably those registered as status Indians receive medals during the war.


This is Francis Peghamagabow, MM and two bars

I have heard his descendants pronounce his name and it sounds like Pegg-ah-mah-gah-bo.



Fellow soldiers called him "Peggy". He was Ojibwa (Anishnaabe )from the Parry Island Band in Ontario.

He enlisted almost immediately as war was declared and as a member of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion of the CDN 1st Div, he arrived France in Feb. of 1915 and in time to fight at Ypres, experiencing the gas attack. He was shot in the leg but recovered and returned.

A man of great bravery and steely nerves, he was awarded the MM:


Quote:
“For continuous service as a messenger from February 14th 1915 to February 1916. He carried messages with great bravery and success during the whole of the actions at Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy. In all his work he has consistently shown a disregard for danger and his faithfulness to duty is highly commendable.”


He survived Passchendaele in Nov. of 1917 and earned his first bar to the MM


Quote:
At Passchendaele Nov. 6th/7th, 1917, this NCO [non-commissioned officer] did excellent work. Before and after the attack he kept in touch with the flanks, advising the units he had seen, this information proving the success of the attack and saving valuable time in consolidating. He also guided the relief to its proper place after it had become mixed up


He earned his second MM bar at 2nd Arras in 1918


Quote:
"During the operations of August 30, 1918, at Orix Trench, near Upton Wood, when his company were almost out of ammunition and in danger of being surrounded, this NCO went over the top under heavy MG [machine gun] and rifle fire and brought back sufficient ammunition to enable the post to carry on and assist in repulsing heavy enemy counter-attacks."


Pegahmagabow was a deadly marksman and a valued sniper.

He is credited with 378 confirmed kills which I believe is the highest total by a sniper in the British forces and perhaps of the war.

He also was credited with capturing 300 prisoners. He would go out into no mans' land as required and pick up prisoners but he also took many in combat.

There were others like him. First Nations warriors in the Canadian Corps.


George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 5/2/2017 5:32:15 PM
I mentioned that the government initially tried to create segregated regiments for First Nations. That plan was abandoned but not before a couple of regiments were established.

The Six Nations Reserve, not far from Toronto is a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) reserve primarily comprised of people of the Mohawk nation. These people have long served the British Empire and Canada. Many felt that their treaty with the British compelled them by honour to fight for the British and for Canada in this war.

The 37th Haldimand Regiment was formed from so many people from the reserve that they were permitted a special badge. It was not completely a First Nations regiment.



Note the For King and Country on the badge but at the bottom you can see two crossed tomahawks.

Note also the words, "Brock's Rangers" alluding to the service provided by Six Nations men during the War of 1812 when Gen. Isaac Brock led the British and Canadian forces charged with repelling the American invaders. When Brock was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights, we now give credit to the small group of about 100 FN's who held off the Americans until British forces at Fort George could march south to repel the invaders.

That part of the history of the war was rarely credited. We should know better now.


It is shameful on our part that so many of these vets came home to rediscover the prejudice that was not present when they served.

Several became activists for First Nations' rights including Pegahmagabow.

But FN's received poorer health care than other Canadians. Some came home with problems with alcohol as did white soldiers.

Too many had to fight for government benefits for soldiers. This included land to farm upon but the Indian Act doesn't provide for individual land ownership on a reserve. When the Indian Department got involved, the right to secure free land became problematic.

We are only beginning to reconcile with our First Nations people.

I always found it strange that they still volunteered despite all that was done to them in our history.


The 37the Haldimand became the 114th Battalion. The women of the Six Nations Patriotic League designed this battalion flag for them to honour their warriors. These women also made blankets, scarves and clothing to be sent overseas.



You can see the 5 clans symbols of the Mohawks. Wolf, Eagle, Heron, Turtle and Bear.

The turtle represents the earth or Turtle Island.

The bear paid homage to the great Mohawk warrior Joseph Brant.

The six arrows represent the 6 nations of the Haudensaunee.

The hare apparently was included to honour the Ojibwa men who travelled south to join the battalion.


I am trying, as a Canadian to learn about our First Nations people so forgive me for going on a bit.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

Phil andrade
London, UK
Posts: 2594
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 5/3/2017 3:51:14 AM
George,

Your posts about these Canadian soldiers are absolutely fascinating....please carry on.

My question : were these FN warriors allowed access to booze and brothels on equal terms with other Canadians ?

Always a litmus test , IMHO.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 5/3/2017 7:36:44 AM
Good question Phil. I shall check.

The Indian Act of Canada which still governs these people, prohibited the sale of alcohol to them from 1884-1985.

There is no doubt that alcoholism on the reserves today is a problem. The elders of some bands have banned the sale.

I have read that some First Nations people lack an enzyme that allows them to process alcohol in their livers with efficiency. Now is that true or just a white man's tale to justify banning the sale to First Nations' people.

Reservation life was destructive to these people. They weren't used to being cooped up with little purpose in life. I believe that the problems with alcohol abuse stem from the loss of the traditional life style.

Having said that, I have also read that some Chinese people lack the same enzyme that allows alcohol to be processed.


Some of the First Nations history sites confirm that FN soldiers were not denied access to alcohol while in the army. They could buy it and drink it and received their rum ration.

It was when they got home that the Indian Act was enforced once again.

That meant that Canadian Legions could not serve alcohol to First Nations veterans and so they were denied entry to the Legion. Some legion branches defied the order.

I found this from the report produced by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People




Quote:
"Indian veterans had no access to veterans affairs administrators, as we have seen, since IAB personnel had taken over their responsibilities. In addition, Aboriginal veterans seldom had access to Royal Canadian Legion branches and newsletters. These were very helpful to most other veterans, informing them about the benefits available and helping them find out how to obtain them. In addition, they provided a useful means for discussing and comparing experiences on the subject. However, status Indians were usually barred from participation in the Legion, because Legions served liquor, and Aboriginal men subject to the Indian Act could not attend functions where liquor was served. Exclusion of Indian veterans from Legions was extremely discriminatory, considering they had fought, been wounded and died alongside their non-Aboriginal comrades. But the Indian Act was inflexible on the issue of access to liquor. In only a few locations, such as Tyendinaga, did status Indians enjoy Legion membership. This exclusion served not only to separate Indian veterans from their wartime companions, but also jeopardized their receipt of veterans benefits."[3]


As alcohol was used to numb the senses of the Canadian soldiers, hence the rum issue, there was a problem with alcoholism for some returning veterans, non aboriginal and aboriginal. I have no statistics to show a difference in the rate of alcoholism.


As for brothels, I can find no reference to any restrictions to FN attendance that wasn't placed upon other Canadian soldiers. Canadians had a rather embarrassingly high rate of acquisition of sexually transmitted infections. There is nothing to indicate that the FN's didn't pick it up because they couldn't gain access to prostitutes.

I believe that the FN were just another soldier in the Canadian Corps. Even the FN web sites seem to acknowledge that fact.

It is when the men returned home that the harsh reality of being an Indian smacked them in the face again.

You may be interested in this National Defence and Canadian Forces essay on the history of FN fighting for Britain and Canada. Chapter 5 deals with WW1 and WW2.

[Read More]


Cheers,

George

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
Posts: 2954
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 5/7/2017 8:12:44 AM
George,

The US forces in WWI were also very segregated, especially African American Troops! Also the US used Native American to stop German Code Breaking!

MD

BTW; Good facts on Canadian Forces.
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5685
Re: Segregation in Canadian forces WW1
Posted on: 5/19/2017 8:03:22 PM
You may find this interesting as it relates to the relationship between the First Nations and the British Crown.

You see, before Canada became a nation, GB did sign treaties with some of the FN groups in the east and when WW1 came around, some of those FN groups felt that they would fight but it was a decision that they would make.

In an earlier post, I included a badge for the Haldimand Regiment which included many Haudenosaunee warriors.

The Haudosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy had a sophisticated system of government and the society was matrilineal.

I won't go into a lot of detail because I am not qualified but each of the tribes of the Confederacy were made up of clans, each with a number of clan mothers who are responsible for a lot of things including the selection of chiefs.


Quote:
http://www.onondaganation.org/government/clan-mothers/


So I am getting to the heart of the story but I have to tell you about wampum belts so that you will appreciate the story.

Wampum belts are beaded belts that tell a story and keep the history of an FN group or describe the laws of the culture, and they were also used to describe treaties.

So what I have found and have linked below is a letter from the Clan Mothers of the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario.

It was men from this reserve who joined the Haldimand Regiment and against the wishes of the government of the Six Nations.

The letter was written to the King to request that some underage Six Nation's warriors be returned to their families.

In the letter, the Clan Mothers remind the crown of the treaties between the Six Nations and the Crown and included are drawings of the wampum belts that cemented the treaties.

Note that the Clan Mothers may not have perfect command of the English language but they do get their point across.

As well, we should note that the Clan Mothers have contacted the King directly because it is with the British crown that those treaties were made.

I don't know whether they had tried to contact the Canadian government or went directly to the treaty partner when it was agreed upon.

Anyway, I found it interesting that they would honour their commitments negotiated in good faith but were insistent that they be treated as an equal among nations and would decide whether to fight or not.

Delusional by that time in their history perhaps, but these treaties were taken seriously by these people. It is a matter of honour for them and they expect the other side to honour the treaty as well.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George