Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘total mobilisation’

“….the image of war as armed combat merges into the more extended image of a gigantic labor process [Arbeitsprozesses]. In addition to the armies that meet on the battlefields, originate the modern armies of commerce and transport, foodstuffs, the manufacture of armaments: the army of labor in general. In the final phase, which was already hinted at toward the end of the last war, there is no longer any movement whatsoever – be it that of the homeworker at her sewing machine – without at least indirect use for the battlefield. In this unlimited marshalling of potential energies, which transforms the warring industrial countries into volcanic forges, we perhaps find the most striking sign of the dawn of the age of labor [Arbeitszeitalter]. It makes the World War a historical event superior in significance to the French Revolution. In order to deploy energies of such proportion, fitting one’s sword-arm no longer suffices; for this is a mobilization [Rustung] that requires extension to the deepest marrow, life’s finest nerve. Its realization is the task of total mobilization: an act which, as if through a single grasp of the control panel, conveys the extensively branched and densely veined power supply of modern life towards the great current of martial energy.”

– Ernst Junger, “Total Mobilisation” [Die totale Mobilmachung], 1931. Source.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

– Harold Digman NSS Official in Library Magazine, “Fight, Work or Jail”

“Though much work within surveillance studies asserts the governing capacity of surveillance technologies, little attention is given to how governing rationalities are translated into individual action, or endeavor to explain the relationship of particular technologies in enabling the governance of individuals or populations. This chapter addresses these questions through an examination of the number of individuals who were pressed to conform to the ascribed categories of Canada’s World War II mobilization program and the specific enforcement technologies that were developed to assert conformity over individual performances. In so doing, this chapter demonstrates the link between implemented technologies and the tightness, or mediating capacity, of governmentally ascribed categories.

Although many men chose to conform with orders issued from government officials telling them to register, to report to a doctor’s office, or to a military training center, the individuals facing this system could have freely enlisted in the Armed Forces at any time after the start of the war. This, coupled with the fact that these individuals did not choose to do so until after receiving their mobilization orders from government officials, establishes how these performances were coerced social acts, stemming from the external governing pressure of applied registration and mobilization technologies.  

As with any system developed to control individual action, the mobilization section of National Registration and National Selective Service was faced with the arduous task of bringing a set of rigid and clear-cut governing rationalities into being across an array of social environments, a vast geographical space, and a multiplicity of differing personal biographies. Its function was to govern the performances of individuals in relation to a set of specified classifications and ensure compliance with their associated legislation and regulations. In the case of mobilized men, categories of “registrant,” “OME recipient,” “OMT recipient” and “NRMA soldier,” among others, dictated the performances of both the classified individuals and mobilization staff. In short, it was the mandate of the mobilization program to ensure that every man “take his part – or the consequences” (Library Magazine 1944 “Fight, Work – or Jail” August 15th 1944).

Crucially, the mobilization program was not completely successful in its task of governing all performative acts related to mobilization in the country. Very early on, for example, it was recognized that not all adults living in Canada had registered, as registration numbers did not meet the government’s population estimates that had been established through census data, leading Registration officials to voice their concern regarding the likely existence of un-registered, and thus, non-compliant, individuals. Though the registration program publically maintained a hard line within news media which assured everyone that “enforcement officers [we]re hunting down the slackers, gamblers, touts, bookmakers, tricksters, pool-hall artists, the spurious conscientious objectors, and the general run of the mill loafer,” mobilization officials at Head Office in Ottawa and in the Division offices across Canada were facing the very real question of how exactly to tighten mobilization categories in order to ensure that each and every man did indeed take his part.

Over the course of the war, government officials were also made aware of gaps and flaws in their system, as well as conscious attempts by individuals to avoid the ascribed duties of their categories, and as a result moved to address these lapses in control. What may have been considered a loose social classification in 1940, asserting little governing pressure in the development of performative acts, was tightened through the application of new technologies, ultimately mediating the day-to-day performative acts of well over 900,000 individuals –  in some cases even going as far as to result in the forced performative act of military combat.

When National Registration and mobilization were first implemented in 1940, the regulations of the National Resources Mobilization Act were widely publicized within various media. As part of this effort, the government’s media messaging repeatedly asserted that it was a crime not to take part in the Initial Registration of 1940 and that those who failed to do so would be found and prosecuted. Additionally, posters for enlistment, victory bonds and other government messages fostered a positive perception of duty and shared sacrifice that were associated with the government’s war effort. In regards to the technologies of the Initial Registration and classification, over 96% of the estimated adult population complied with the requirements of registration, noting a strong relationship between categorical tightness and the authority of government policy when coupled with public advertizing and the potential of legal penalties.

National Registration in Canada during the Second World War was conducted in 1940 under the management of the Department of National War Services and the legislation of the National Mobilization Act. The initial Registration occurred in government and public buildings across the country on  August 19th, 20th and 21st 1940, and involved a large number of trained registration staff, assistance from corporations which employed large numbers of people, and the aid of over 200 local  volunteers. The process of registration itself involved a set of 19 standard questions for men and 20 questions for women, which collected information regarding their name, address, age, date of birth, country of birth, their father and their mother’s name and country of origin, their nationality and immigration status, languages spoken, education, basic health, class of occupation, employment status, experience and training in agriculture and finally one’s current registration status in the Armed Forces. These data were then entered on pre-printed National Registration Questionnaire Card forms, and became integrated into the selection and management mobilization system.

With the exception of the requirements of income tax, up until this point, involvement in the war effort had been largely  voluntary, and  in this way National Registration marked the first instance in which all adults across the country were called on to comply with government policy regarding direct participation  in the Second World War. The need to register had been announced publically through various media sources including print, radio and posters set up in government offices across the country. Instructions directed all men and women over the age of 16 to present themselves and legally register, or face legal penalties. As a National Registration poster printed in The Globe and Mail noted:

Canada calls upon all her citizens, regardless of nationality, male and female, over 16 years of age, to register on August 19th, 20th, or 21st. Registration offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The object of this registration is to ascertain the human resources of the nation so that they may be mobilized to enable Canada to make her maximum effort in the defence of this country and towards the successful prosecution of the war…Failure to register will make any male or female, married or single, over the age of 16 years, liable to a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, of both such fine and imprisonment, and moreover to a further penalty not exceeding ten dollars for each day, after the day upon which he should have registered, during which he shall continue to be unregistered.

Given the simple nature of these governing technologies, the National Registration system, in combination with the social pressures of the wartime period was incredibly effective in getting people to participate in the act of registration. Collecting vital data on over 9,250,000 individuals and allowing for government officials to fulfill the publicly stated mandate of National Registration of taking stock of the manpower within the country and asserting which individuals were considered “necessary” to their community and which were deemed to be “available” to be called into mandatory service – effectively sorting these populations into readable and actionable categories. Ultimately , these classifications determined who would be legally required to perform certain acts, to either mobilize into the Armed Forces, into industry , or to continue to perform their current jobs within their communities. Although fairly simple in its application, this use of media, the validity of law and the threat of punitive  legal action was highly effective in governing the performative act of registration, allowing for the  incorporation of the personal information of these  individuals  into the registration and mobilization system, and accounting for over 96% of the estimated adult population and 94.88% of all individuals identified by mobilization technology throughout the course of the war.

With the exclusion of those individuals who were identified to registration officials later as a part of subsequently implemented technological innovations, all mobilization technology was crucially reliant upon the data collected as part of the initial registration of 1940 to enforce the system’s categories and performative requirements upon individuals and populations. Quite simply, without the names and addresses of registered individuals Registrars would have been unable to issue or deliver the government orders for medical assessment and military training that were the basis of the mobilization system, or even know where to direct the system’s enforcement capacity. Unlike those who did not register, the data of registered individuals would remain on their filed cards, and noncompliance would produce evidence of delinquency as part of the system’s internal record. As such, this initial act of registration, taken by individuals living within Canada, was fundamental to the enforcement capacity of governing technologies  implemented later, as registration  not only made the actions and inactions of these individuals visible to the mobilization system, but  it also enabled the systematic auditing of  mobilization data to identify  acts of noncompliance with governing policy,  further developing the capacity for the actions of individual actors to be reviewed, accessed, and enforced.

Furthermore, this relationship was expressed in the fear related to the loss or mismanagement of the original National Registration Questionnaire Cards, as the Associate Deputy Minister of the Department of National War Services expressed:

it goes without saying that should the master card be lost or removed, it would be extremely difficult to trace any individual … there remains for your attention the vital necessity of guarding the master cards which constitute the only means of tracing an individual who might be thought to have escaped his duties under National War Services Regulations.

Once the process of calling up men had begun, officials sought to use undelivered Orders-Medical and Military to identify any cases of delinquency and use the rule of law,  in combination with the criminal justice system, to ensure compliance with applied categories. In discovered cases of non-compliance, registrars were to work closely with local and provincial postmasters and police, as well as with the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) , to enforce mobilization policy. To accomplish this, the mobilization legislation of the National Resources and Mobilization Act 1940 (Recruits) 1940, and later National Selective Service Mobilization Regulations (Order in Council P.C. 10924 December 1st 1942), had been specifically designed to contain “adequate enforcement provisions” for “both deterrent and punitive purposes,” while nine different sections of this legislation established new criminal acts regarding registration and conformity to applied mobilization categories.  Specifically, now criminalized was the act of  not answering questions posted by  mobilization officials truthfully (Recruits 1940 sec. 28(1) and (2); NSS 1943 sec. 25,30 and 35), non-compliance with Orders-Medical and Military (Recruits 1940 sec.29, 30;NSS 1943 sec. 26 and 27), willful injury (NSS 1943 sec. 36), attempts to bribe officials (Recruits 1940 sec.35) and impeding  the operations of mobilization regulations through action, written or oral public speech that advised others to refuse or submit to comply with their ascribed social duties (Recruits 1940 sec. 34(a) and (b);NSS 1943 sec. 31 and 33). Also included was a catch all section to criminalize anything mobilization officials felt required the force of  law, to be used in cases where there were “no other penalties provided.”

Although mobilization officials internally noted the extreme difficulty in actually applying sanctions upon those who did not register, particularly since they had no data with which to identify non-conforming individuals or which could be used to inform any enforcement mechanism, and as a result, had no idea who these unregistered people were, exactly how many there were, or where they could be found, the government’s hard line that all non-conforming individuals would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law was the position that mobilization officials publicly maintained. Mobilization policy specifically called on the system’s staff to identify all those who were not conforming with their ascribed classifications, however, individuals‟ decisions either to register and provide their data to the mobilization system, or not to do so, worked to make visible only those who had chosen to register. In this way, the tracing of delinquency and the enforcement of mobilization categories was limited to those who had registered and then chosen not to comply with an issued Order-Medical or Military.

This limitation in system visibility denotes the crucial importance of the system holding data on the individual, in enabling the capacity of a governing system to develop categorical tightness – stressing “contingent events”, moments in which a specific choice or action enables the setting into motion of a reactive chains of events, as key components in understanding the capacity of governing systems to assert categorical tightness. In this case, it was the contingent event of the act of participation within the initial registration that crucially established the individual’s visibility to the system and enabled its capacity to make the individual’s performance of compliant or non-compliant acts known and linked to the system’s reactive chains of enforcement and prosecution. Without participation in the process of registration, the individual’s later performative acts in relation to mobilization categories were not perceptible, and as such, could not trigger any of the system’s enforcement mechanisms. This section also demonstrates how some of the technological elements of the 1940-1942 period made the enforcement of mobilization categories more difficult, noting in particular how early attempts were hindered by a lack of effective information sharing between government institutions.

When it was determined that an individual was suspected of noncompliance with mobilization regulations, either by an order being returned to the registration office unopened or the time given to comply with an  issued order had expired, Registrars were to follow a set protocol designed to investigate and gather any evidence of delinquency. Initially, registrars were to contact postmasters as a means of ascertaining if (1) the local postman knew whether or not the  individual under investigation had moved to a new address and simply had not received their mobilization orders; (2) the postman knew if the suspected individual had already voluntarily joined the Armed Forces; or (3) it was known by the postman or anyone else he knew in the community that the individual under investigation had in fact knowingly refused to accept the delivery of the Order-Medical or Military Training or was otherwise suspected of “not being in good standing” of their own volition…. As part of this investigation Registrars were also instructed to, where possible, contact other knowledgeable community members, including the individual’s employer, known family members or local clergy.

If after this initial investigation the Registrar felt that the individual was willfully not complying with ascribed mobilization duties, a second order (medical or military) was to be sent, along with a form letter, informing the delinquent individual that “this is your final notice, unless you comply with same and present yourself [to location] as ordered within three clear days you are liable to prosecution and penalties”. Official policy after the delivery of this “final” notice, dictated that the Registrar was to press the individual further by involving policing institutions and, if necessary, the criminal justice system. In these cases, individuals who failed to comply with their Order-Medical Examination or Order-Military Training, and had not responded to their second and final notice orders, were to have their “full particulars” sent to policing organizations immediately.

Once such a request had been received by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), or other contacted police agency, police were to assign an officer to investigate the matter further. If the delinquent individual was found, the investigating officer was to serve them with yet another Order-Medical or Military. After having done so, the officer was then to post a copy of their police report to mobilization’s Head Office in Ottawa, outlining the actions they had taken and specifically affirm that the order had in fact been personally issued to the individual by hand. These reports were to be placed in a newly opened delinquency file for the individual under investigation and placed in the filing room at Head Office. Subsequently, a printed acknowledgement was to be sent back to the police agency to inform them that their correspondence and report had been received. The open file was then “marked for attention,” and was to be addressed again in “about thirty days after the diary date which appear[ed] on the left hand bottom corner of the police report”. Thirty days after the diary date, if mobilization staff had not already been informed of the case’s result, they  were to inquire to the police as to the status or resolution of the case.

In addition to adding the police report to the individual’s Central Registry file, officials at Head Office in Ottawa were also to send a letter to the local Divisional Registrar informing them that the individual in question had now been knowingly served with the order, and as such, had the usual three days to comply. After this letter was issued, Head Office staff was to wait twenty-one days before conducting a follow up check with the local Registrar.  

In the case that the delinquent individual had failed to report within the stipulated period, the process would start again, the Registrar would write to the Post Office, and if warranted, contact the police, and the police would open an investigation and file a new report with Head Office. The only difference in these second cases were that police would now have documented evidence that the first order had in fact been delivered and received by the non-compliant individual, and the police at that time would have  legal grounds to apprehend the individual on charges of non-compliance.

Once a delinquent was taken into custody mobilization policy established that they were also to be given one final chance to comply – as it was reported:

…the general policy with regard to men who  failed to report for medical examination, for further medical examination or for military training was that following their apprehension the Registrar exhorted or persuaded them to report voluntarily as instructed on their mobilization order. If the men reported immediately, as suggested, they then became in good standing but if they refused to report, they were immediately brought to court for prosecution.

It was further noted that: “while a man may refuse to obey the regulations, he may later change his mind” and “it is not considered sound practice to lay a charge against a man when he still has an opportunity of remedying the default”. In cases where delinquent individuals chose to comply, registrars at Head Office were to “mark the file accordingly,” applying the special “Reported to Training Center” stamp.

This investigation process was, however, considered to be highly inefficient  by both the Registrars and the police involved, as it often required  “a large number” of letters and a significant amount of time and effort to be expended in order to obtain the necessary data. As a Registrar reported –

…as it stands no less than four letters, and sometimes more than six, are required to obtain, in many instances, only a few words of necessary information, the Divisional Registrar must send a communication to the Director of Postal Services, the Director of Postal Services to the local Postmaster concerned, the local Postmaster Concerned to the Director of Postal Services, Director of Postal Services to the Divisional Registrar, and the Divisional Registrar to the RCMP.

In addition to the time consuming nature of this process, Postmasters often resisted requests from Registrars to divulge individuals‟ information on the basis that what they were asking was highly personal and private, and as such, it was “against the regulations of [the] Post Office Department” to release to any third party. In these cases, Registrars were instructed to include a full citation of section 25 of the National Selective Service Mobilization Regulations along with their requests to post office officials, asserting that it was against the law to not answer questions from Registrars and that failure to respond within eight days would make any uncooperative person “guilty of an offence under this section”.

Additionally, the involvement of police in the issuance of mobilization orders placed a significant burden upon officers called to enforce this  legislation, leading them to argue that the process was far too labour intensive  to be effective, and that time spent on these matters had started to impeded their capacity to perform their other required duties. In a 1942 Memoranda letter put forth by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police office in Winnipeg, it was noted that the mobilization workload of the force in addressing problems of this nature had increased fivefold over the past year – from just 17 cases related to the delivery of Orders-Medical and Military in J District in all of 1941, to 319 in 1942, to over 1,182 over the course of only the first seven and a half months of 1943.

In these cases, the RCMP also noted the general difficulty and inefficiency in the enforced mobilization call up process, informing mobilization officials that:

…the system adopted at present is for Notices Medical [Order-Medical Examination] and Orders of Call [Order-Military Training] to be sent to this Force for personal service upon the individuals named therein. If Notice Medical is served, the person to whom it is addressed is then located – sometimes after considerable difficulty, entailing correspondence between various points – and the Notice served upon him. If he takes his Medical Examination, a Notice of Call may then be received and the same procedure is gone through, if, in the meantime, the designated man has moved again to another address. In some instances the individual concerned may deliberately disappear so as to avoid service of Call being made upon him. If he is located, Service of Notice of Call is then made and if he does not report for training, the same procedure in respect to locating him is resorted to for a third time with consequent expenditure of public funds, gasoline and the time of the member concerned with the work in hand. If the man has not reported for military training, it will be obvious that to discover his whereabouts becomes a difficult task.

Prosecutions for this time period show that by the end of 1941 only 332 men had been charged for not complying with mobilization legislation. Nearly all (320 or 96.39%) of those charged, originated from mobilization’s “E” Division in Montréal, Québec. Although numbers of men prosecuted were almost exclusively in Québec, the numbers of those identified as having not complied with mobilization orders were more equally being distributed across the country – the largest number outside of Québec being “M” Division in Regina with 505, “J” Division in Winnipeg with 500 and then “E” Division with 444. By the end of 1942 the policing of the National Registration and mobilization legislation had resulted in a total of 5,544 convictions. Of these, 37 were the result of violations of 1942 National Selective Service legislation. Data from 1941 denotes that the bulk of the mobilization cases, 314 out of 332, or 94.58%, were the result of men not conforming with an order to report for medical examination, while 18 out of 332,or 5.42%, related to individuals who had complied with their Order-Medical but had chosen not report for their ascribed  military training.

When the technology of mobilization was implemented in 1941, government officials sought to develop a means of discriminating between those who were intentionally non-compliant, from those who had not technically complied but had instead volunteered for one of the branches of the Armed Forces when they had received their Order-Medical or Military. This more selective prosecution of delinquency was considered to be necessary to combat the hostility that was being developed against the mobilization system as a result of publicized prosecution cases that had been initiated against men who had chosen to volunteer to serve in the Armed Forces. As internal documents note, government officials informed mobilization staff that the system looked particularly bad and was at risk of losing further public support in cases where the man in question had already died in combat when police officers arrived to investigate why he had not reported for his ordered medical examination or required military training. This section charts the development of mobilization technologies designated to differentiate those who were considered to be “true delinquents,” those who knowingly ignored the social requirements of their ascribed categories, from those who had not complied with issued orders for valid reasons. This section also denotes the degree to which mobilization technologies of this period were effective in mediating the social performances of classified individuals, noting that less than 7% of issued Orders Medical and Military ultimately resulted in delinquency, and that of these, only 17.66% were found to be the result of deliberate acts of evasion – again demonstrating the high degree of categorical tightness that government programs with the backing of law were able to express without the implementation of further coercive technologies.

In mobilization’s early years it faced a significant problem in identifying who they considered “true” delinquents. On the surface, mobilization data depicted large numbers of men who were seemingly  non-compliant and unaccounted for within the mobilization system.  An audit initiated by an order from The House of Commons in 1941, for example, reported that 10,117 Order Medical Examinations and 2,808 Order-Military Training had been returned to Registrar’s offices unopened by May of that year. Mobilization officials, however, stressed in their report back to the house that “it [wa]s not to be presumed that all these men are willing delinquents” and that “experience ha[d] shown that when the truth [wa]s known, deliberate delinquents form but a mere minimum of the number involved”.

As a result of the 1941 audit, the Department of National War Services decided to drop the blanket application of the term “delinquent” when describing those who failed to report, since “to apply delinquent‟ t o a good number of men who heretofore have been included in this classification is really unwarranted and unfair”. For this reason five separate classifications were adopted to distinguish the status of those not in good standing; (a) Unreported – being traced; (b) Possible Delinquents – being traced; © Unreported – being traced; (d) Possible delinquents; and (e) Delinquents –which referred only to those “who, on the strength of police reports or other definite information, are known to be trying to evade their responsibilities under National War Services”.

For each of these categories Registrars were to maintain complete lists. Lists were to carry the individual’s  “surname, Christian names, serial call number, date of birth, last known address, date notice sent by Divisional Register, and note if the case had been handed over to the RCMP, provincial police or  any other police force”. One further list was added in July of 1942 to distinguish those whohad previously been under investigation and were found to be in good standing. This list was compiled under the heading of “Disposal” and was also to note the result of the conducted investigation  by asserting that the individual was found to be “enlisted, dead etc.”

A further review of delinquency data conducted in Saskatchewan’s mobilization offices in 1942 noted non-compliance, or delinquency, in 6.73% of all their issued mobilization orders. Of this approximate 7%, further investigation determined that only 17.66% were in fact the result of deliberate acts of evasion – establishing cases of true delinquency as approximately 1.2% of the total called up population. The bulk (73.7%) of the seemingly delinquent cases were found to be as a result of the individual in question  failing to change their address, while 7.73% had failed to pick up their mail from their post office box, and 0.74% were the result of clerical errors made by mobilization staff.  Additional analysis showed that of those who failed to change their address, 21.77% had in fact complied with the law and had sent in the necessary notice of change of address. In these cases their reported delinquency was the result of delays inherent in the labour intensive job of maintaining up-to-date Registration records.

In 1942, mobilization officials, in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) responded to government calls for greater policing powers to be directed toward the prosecution of those who were delinquent under the mobilization legislation. As a result, mobilization officials and the RCMP planned and conducted a series of raids against what they considered would be places that nonconforming individuals would congregate – such as pool halls, bowling alleys and dance halls. Ultimately, nearly 600 individuals were charged for violations under either the legislation of National Registration or mobilization’s National Resources Mobilization Act. These raids were also considered internally to have been a success, as they were understood as being one of the very few means of actually identifying those who had not registered in either the Initial Registration in 1940 or the Re-Registration of 1942. Additionally, the raids were found to have had a secondary enforcement benefit, as they had prompted a number of men who were delinquent, but had not been caught as part of the raids, to report to mobilization offices to find out under which category they fell and how they could ensure that they were in compliance with the relevant legislation. In regards to categorical tightness, these data regarding the RCMP police raids assert three insights: first , the importance of identifying data being held within the system, that is, having a record of those who were delinquents upon which further enforcement action could be asserted; second, having legally required identifying documents which allowed for a means of easily checking an individual’s status, without which the large scale assessment of populations required by the raids would not have been possible; and third, the role of asserting the potential of criminal prosecutions in developing individual compliance with ascribed categories.

In addition to their work tracing and delivering Orders-Medical and Military to non-compliant individuals  in collaboration with  mobilization officials at local Divisions, the RCMP, working closely with Registrars, planned and executed a series of raids targeting “pool rooms, beverage rooms, taverns, bowling alleys and other public places harboring alleged delinquents” in communities across the country. Drawing on the new legal authority granted to police officials to demand proof of an individual’s registration, and the 1942 issuance of identity documents demonstrating one’s mobilization status, officers were now in a position to efficiently check  large groups of individuals to determine their  given classification and degree of compliance with mobilization legislation. In their internal documents concerning the raids, RCMP instructions specific ally noted that the purpose of this action was “the arrest and trial of individuals who [we]re defaulters under the National Selective Service Mobilization Regulations” who, up to this point, had not been able to be located by investigating officers.

Starting in 1942, these “special drives,” were designed to target individuals “who make their living from the gullible minority,” such as “poolroom sharks, street bookies etc,” since it was understood that they would have “no intention of reporting for duty” if called, nor have any “intention of obtaining honest employment” to contribute to the war effort. The locations for these raids were also selected to maximize the potential of isolating these populations.

The raids were to involve three separate stages. First, officers were to lock down the building, congregating those in the raided establishment within a central location and separate the men and women. Second, officers were to check the identity documents of all of the men who were present, not only assuring that each individual had their necessary documentation, but also inquiring “into the reasons for which certain persons of military age” had “secured deferment for military service,” as a means of detecting any potential cases of fraud. Third, those without sufficient evidence of their identity or reasoning for their deferred mobilization status were to be taken to police headquarters for additional questioning, and their data sent to Division offices to be checked against locally held Control Cards.

As a reporter observing a raid in Montréal for the Hamilton Spectator explained:

…sullen girls were herded to one side of the dance hall while the men were lined up on the other…startled  merrymakers found it hard to figure out what had happened when the police and soldiers boiled into the St. Denis dance hall, the pool room downstairs and the bowling alley in the basement. Girls, separated from their escorts chattered angrily to polite but firm policemen who kept them on their own side of the room. A few of the young men scurried for back entrances or tried to slip past guards posted at the main doors, but they were rounded up and asked to show their papers. Registration cards were not regarded as sufficient proof of low[medical] categories [categories B2 and below], and medical rejections discharge papers and other documents were requested.

The raids required a significant amount of manpower in order to be executed, employing 999 RCMP officers, 292 staff from local police agencies, and 222 specifically selected Army personnel. Of the Army staff taken on by the RCMP to conduct these raids, 75 were specifically requisitioned because they were francophones from Québec, these men having been “carefully chosen” for their “local knowledge of the districts where it is alleged a surplus of manpower exists” (Military District #5 Quebec letter 1943 re: Recruits for RCMP Enforcement  – NRMA 17th, July 1943). It was also specifically noted that these volunteers were required to have military backgrounds, with a “full understanding of the conditions of service which they w[ould] be called upon to perform,” as “such type of work [wa]s considered distasteful  by many” (Military District #5 Quebec letter 1943 re: Recruits for RCMP Enforcement  – NRMA 17th July 1943.

This additional taking on of volunteers with local knowledge was considered of special concern in Québec, since the problem of locating noncompliant individuals in that province was “aggravated by the fact that the Québec Provincial Police g[a]ve little or no assistance” to mobilization staff and it was believed, that generally, there was a greater sentiment against mobilization in that province (Department of Labour 1943 NSS Memorandum 3rd February 1943. A similar situation also existed later in the war  in Ontario, as provincial police were specifically instructed not to take part in mobilization investigations or “any duties involving arrest of draft dodgers,” since it had been determined by the provincial government that “from the jurisdictional standpoint, the responsibility of enforcing the regulations rested with the Dominion”. This decision did not, however, include the municipal police forces within the province, as Ontario was still to make all of its “law-enforcement machinery and personnel” available “other than the Provincial Police” (Globe and Mail , “Provincial Constables Won’t Nab Defaulters” 1942/10/08).

As part of the Special Drives program, RCMP officers and mobilization staff raided a total of 1,659 different establishments, conducted investigations on 39,973 individuals, detained 2,701 suspected delinquents, and ultimately charged 537 individuals for non-compliance.  In addition to finding men not in good standing with the mobilization system, these raids also identified 105 deserters who had left their positions in the Armed Forces, and 662 who were not gainfully employed, though considered capable of being put to work within necessary industries.

The bulk of the institutions raided and individual checks were made in the RCMP’s “F” Division in Saskatchewan (52.8 % and 32.4 %, respectively). However, the vast majority of detentions (45.0 %), charges (46.7 %), and identified deserters (73.3%), were the result of raids in RCMP “C” division in the province of Québec . Although the raids did discover noncompliant individuals in each district of the county, these data also demonstrate a level of complete compliance with ascribed classifications  in 93.24 % of the assessed individuals within the targeted populations – these individuals not only being in good standing, but also carrying the proper identity documents and proof of their status. With the exclusion of Québec this number rises even further to over 96 %, while across the country only 1.27 % of those investigated were actually found to be in violation of registration or mobilization policy. The RCMP furthermore reported that, of those charged under the National Registration legislation, “almost all of the 164 persons” were charged as a result of having “failed to change their address,” leading officials to note “that a percentage of these would eventually have become delinquent under the Mobilization Regulations had they not been found and charged”.

In addition to aiding in the difficult task of locating delinquent individuals, the RCMP furthermore touted the psychological effect that raids had on “men who were contemplating, or had been avoiding their duties,” noting that since the raids had begun, Division offices “had to place extra staff on duty to look after the large number of men making enquiries as to when they were to report for duty and giving changes of address” (see Globe and Mail, “Police Continue Raids to Find Draft Dodgers” 1943/09/11).

By the end of 1944 the RCMP reported that a total of 3,775 establishments were raided across the country, the documents and mobilization status of 63,506 individuals were checked for compliance, resulting in 373 being charged with a breach of mobilization regulations, 271 were charged in regards to violations under the National Registration legislation, and an additional 145 were identified as deserters. Upon completion  of these special drives, the RCMP reported to the Department of Labour that they had been “more than worthwhile,” since reporting officers felt that it was “doubtful if [they] could  have reached the[se delinquents] in any other way” (RCMP Letter Ref. No. C 11-95-11-2 December 18th 1943).”

– Scott Thompson, Consequences of Categorization: National Registration, Surveillance and Social Control in Wartime Canada, 1939-1946. D. phil thesis, University of Alberta, 2013. pp. 204-247.

Read Full Post »