Conscription Misconceptions Run Deep
I was recently on the LCMSDS website and commented on Caroline D’Amours' review of J.L Granatstein's revised "Broken Promises: A History of Conscription in Canada" (2015). D’Amours (RMC/Boston University) wrote the following:
"Conscription therefore not only sharply divided French and English Canadians but also jeopardised the stability of the federal government. In return, it had minimal military results since the number of conscripts who reached the front in both wars formed only a small portion of the Canadian forces. Hence, Granatstein and Hitsman conclude correctly that the considerable long-term damage done to Canadian political life was not worth the price of compulsory service."
This is a well-entrenched misconception that my upcoming book will challenge directly. My response below:
I confess, I strongly disagree with the reviewer’s assertion that conscription, at least insofar as the First World War is concerned, "had minimal military results." Indeed, Canadian conscripts made a significant contribution to the success of the Canadian Corps in the Hundred Days. In this respect, my research also reveals that these conscripts constituted a greater part of the trench strength of the 48 infantry battalions than is traditionally thought. Evidence supporting this analysis will be revealed in my forthcoming book: Reluctant Warriors: Canadian Conscripts and the Great War (UBC Press, September 2017).