Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)
Discharges in England
Report of the Ministry; Overseas Military Forces of Canada; 1918
Prior to the Armistice the discharge of Canadian Other Ranks in England might be roughly divided into two classes-those who were discharged in order that they might accept commissions or be re-engaged on some branch of the Imperial Service, and those who were discharged to civil life or to engage in work of National Importance. Those of the first class included soldiers whose applications for training with a view to commissioned rank in the Imperial Service had been favourably considered and those who had undergone a course of training at a Cadet School and had been granted a commission in the Imperial Army. It also included those who had been granted commissions under the Admiralty and those who had been appointed Flight Cadets in the Royal Air Force.
The second class consisted of men who might have been asked for by the Imperial Authorities for work of National Importance in such departments as the Ministry of Munitions, the Ministry of Food and the Ministry of Shipping. Such men were usually in a low category, and in most cases it was considered that they would be of greater value if they were employed on such work rather than if they continued to serve in a Military capacity. In the same class also came the very infrequent cases of men who were discharged in England on compassionate grounds and also those cases of soldiers boarded for discharge or invaliding to Canada on account of medical unfitness, who had applied for discharge in England.
In respect to the last-named cases it was the settled policy of the Canadian Government that members of the Canadian Forces found no longer fit for War service should be discharged in Canada, and that discharge would not be permitted in England except under very exceptional circumstances and where grave hardship would otherwise be caused to the individual concerned. Applications under this heading were not numerous, but they were very carefully scrutinised as it was not considered advisable that the Canadian Government should allow disabled Canadians to remain in England. In all such cases the application had to be put forward by the man himself, and it should be clearly understood that before the application was allowed it was necessary to prove that very great hardship would be entailed if the applicant were returned to Canada. In addition the man was required to provide written guarantees by a responsible citizen in England to the effect that he would not become a charge upon the public, and it was also necessary that he should furnish a Magistrate's Certificate to the effect that the person acting as guarantor was able to fulfil his obligations.
All discharges in England were carried out through the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot in London, and on being discharged the soldier was required to sign a waiver of any claim against the Canadian Government for free transportation to Canada. He was also required to sign a statement that he understood that by being discharged in England he would not be entitled to receive the three months' bonus of pay under the arrangement which was then in existence. He was given the usual Discharge Character Certificates, and when his documents were completed they were sent for custody to the Officer in Charge of the Canadian Record Office, London, by the Officer Commanding the 2nd Canadian Discharge Depot.
Present Policy re Discharges in British Isles. — Since the Armistice, it has been laid down that a soldier may only receive his discharge in the British Isles provided
(a) He was born in the British Isles.
(b) He has no dependents in Canada.
(c) He has dependents or relatives in the British Isles in such circumstances as warrant his retention here for financial or domestic reasons.
(d) He has a bona-fide offer of employment or has independent means of support irrespective of any pay or gratuity payable by the Government.