“Girls Refuse to Work under ‘Zombie’ CSM,” the Toronto Globe and Mail reported in August 1944. Canada’s Zombie army of World War II is my latest gem unearthed in digging up family history.
When Canada joined Britain in declaring war on Germany in September 1939, the prime minister promised to send no one but volunteers into overseas military service. He feared repeating the turmoil over the draft in the previous world war, when French Canadians protested risking their lives for the British Empire.
The 1939 announcement brought a surge of volunteers for the Canadian Active Service Force. The next year Parliament authorized military conscription for home front service only. Draftees could choose to “go active,” but few did. Families of men fighting overseas scorned the non-combat conscripts as Zombies, not-quite-soldiers with no will of their own. The Globe and Mail reported, “Nice girls do not dine or dance with them.”
For what it’s worth, I haven’t confirmed any Zombie relatives, and I’d happily dine with one if I did. Lots more on the Zombies is here and here.
Thanks, Rebecca. Unlike Canada, the USA had a draft for combat duty. At the end of WWII, when so many Canadian military had been killed that they didn't have enough volunteers to replace them, they did start sending draftees into combat. The US had conscientious objector status with alternative service, but only a few did this and they had a religious reason. Canadian draftees had no such excuse and were stigmatized as cowards.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.