Thursday, May 24, 2012

Veterans Guard of Canada


Today marks the 72nd anniversary of the formation of the Veterans Guard of Canada so I thought it fitting to dedicate this post to all those who served in the Veterans Guard.

With the outbreak of war in Europe in the fall of 1939, thousands of Canadians flocked to enlisting stations to do their part in the upcoming conflict. Among these men were Veterans of the First World War, the majority now in their forties. Though these men were deemed to be too old for frontline service, their valuable military experience ensured that they would not be tossed aside. With increasing numbers of veterans volunteering, it was clear that something had to be done and done quickly.

Following the example of the British Home Guard, the Veterans Guard of Canada was created on May 24, 1940. Initially established as a defence force in the case of a German or Japanese attack on Canadian soil, these men were to attack as the first line of defence. However, these men would take on other rolls, such as the guarding of military installation and factories against saboteurs and the guarding of prisoners of war and enemy aliens interred in the country. By doing so, the Veterans Guard freed up the younger able-bodied men for overseas service.

The men of the Veterans Guard were organized into companies of a few hundred men. These companies were designated as Active or Reserve, active meaning that the men served full-time and were rotated throughout the country, while reserve companies were more similar to a militia force and remained in one place.

The Veterans Guard of Canada, with a peak strength of over 10,000 men, recruited from across the country and performed essential tasks on home soil. In addition, a company of the Veterans Guard was stationed in the UK, British Guiana, and the Bahamas.

Struck off active service in 1947, the story of the Veterans Guard has largely faded into history. A fitting quote filled the last lines of the War Diary of the No. 23 Company, formed right here in Manitoba:

“So is written the last page of the record… of a Company that is gone but not forgotten.”

2 comments:

  1. Hi. I saw on the Canada at War website that 336 Veterans Guards died during the war, but no details are given on how or where they died exept where they are buried, with most buried in Canada. http://www.canadaatwar.ca/memorial/world-war-ii/regiment/2/Veterans%20Guard%20of%20Canada/

    I am guessing becasue these men died on active service they are included in the list of war dead, even though most if not all did not die in combat zones. I wonder if you know anything about this.

    Steve at stevp@hotmail.com

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  2. I was just given a platoon photo today of the veteran guard platoon photo, came with the envelope and stamp member sent to a family member I assume.The soldiers return address on back. I didnt know what I had, picture dated 1942, 1 platoon, 7 coy espanola . I had no idea these guys were ex WW1 and now this photo package has even more meaning to my collection. I tend to buy up portait photos from antique shops,Im 22yrs military and each purchase is to me saving one more soldiers history.

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