Topic: Canadian Army
567 Deserters Sought by Canadian Army
Military Police in Canada and Europe Still On the Lookout Two Years after End of War
The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, 1 May 1947
By Franck Swanson, Citizen Parliamentary Reporter
Military Police in Canada and allied military police all over Europe are still on the look-out for 567 Canadian deserters nearly two years after the end of the war with Germany.
Many of them have been "on the loose" since the early days of the arrival in the United Kingdom of Canada's overseas army, although the bulk are missing in Canada. A few are still at large in Europe and are believed to be in countries where Canadians served during the war.
Servicemen classed officially as "deserters" are listed separately from approximately 14,000 men who were conscripted into the service and then deserted before being sent overseas. They are listed on official army records as "deemed not to have served."
Never Part of Force
The difference in classification is that in the case of soldiers, sailors and airmen listed as deserters, certain rehabilitation benefits are still available. In the case of the men "deemed not to have served," no discharge credits have been or will be available. In other words, NRMA men who deserted before being shipped overseas were never officially part of the armed forces, and their names have been wiped from the slate of those who did serve.
Army personnel lead the parade of servicemen listed as deserters with 465 unaccounted for. The biggest proportion, 325 soldiers, are listed as having deserted in Canada, with the remainder, 140, listed as missing in Europe.
Seventy-five members of the navy are missing and listed as deserters in Canada with only five having disappeared overseas. In the case of the air force, there are 20 members missing in this country with only two still listed in Europe.
There is no question of an amnesty being granted the missing men. When, or if they are found, they will have to stand trial in the usual manner, and accept their punishment which invariably will run to long-term jail sentences. In the case of soldiers, sailors and airmen apprehended overseas, they would be returned to Canada for trial and imprisonment.
Many of those living overseas are believed to be in Britain where they are living on stolen or forged ration cards. According to Scotland Yard records there, 60 per cent of all recent crimes have been committed by army deserters of all nationalities—Canadian included. There are no figures in this country to show what percentage of crimes deserters are responsible for.