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WWII servicemen anticipate return to ‘civvy street’

The Story

For five dreadful, bloody years Canadians in the Armed Forces have dreamed of just one thing: making it home alive. Now, as the war in Europe winds down, thousands of them are close to realizing that dream. Along with jubilation come lingering worries about the gulf yawning between life as serviceman and civilian. In this clip the CBC Radio program Comrades in Arms examines the need for the "material, spiritual and social rehabilitation" of returning veterans.

Medium: Radio
Program: Comrades in Arms
Broadcast Date: Oct. 13, 1944
Musical Director: Samuel Hersenhoren
Producer: J. Frank Willis
Duration: 7:05

Did You know?

• The Second World War began on Sept. 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Canada declared war on Sept. 10, readying its coastal defences and mobilizing its armed forces, including thousands of volunteers. Almost 60,000 men and women enlisted in September alone. The first Canadian troops sailed for Britain on Dec. 10, 1939.

• Germany surrendered unconditionally to the United States in Rheims, France and to the Soviets in Berlin on May 7, 1945. On Sept. 2, 1945, representatives of the Japanese government surrendered on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, marking the official end of the Second World War.

• Over one million Canadians served in the Second World War and approximately 45,000 gave their lives. More than 53,000 Canadians were wounded, and more than 8,000 were taken prisoners of war.

• At war's end there were 280,000 Canadian veterans spread throughout Europe. They encountered a host of difficulties when they returned to Canada. In addition to the challenges of reintegrating with their families, jobs and communities, there was a shortage of places for them to live. Many also had to deal with physical or psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (once called "shell shock" or "battle fatigue").

• In 1944 the Department of Veterans Affairs was created. It provided veterans with $100 to buy clothes, and a payment of $7.50 for each month of service and 25 cents for each day overseas, plus a week's salary for every six months spent abroad. Some soldiers also returned to significant savings in government bonds from regular payroll deductions. (Source: Juno Beach Centre)

• Other government programs were created to help returning veterans adjust to civilian life. Those who wanted to farm were granted agricultural lands, and loans were provided for farming or business. Rehabilitation programs and hospitals helped the wounded and traumatized. Training and education were offered for those interested in professional training or academics.

• CBC's Comrades in Arms debuted Oct. 2, 1942. It was the first broadcast of "combined operations" with Canada's army, navy and air force all contributing to the show.

• Several CBC Radio series in the 1940s were devoted to the subject of returning servicemen. They include Civvy Street, Of Things to Come, and Johnny Home Show (a comedy about a returned soldier, written by Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster.)

• As of November 2003, 293,000 veterans from the Second World War were alive, with an average age of 81.
• During the Korean War, almost 27,000 Canadians served; 516 were killed, 1,558 were wounded and 33 were taken prisoner.
• In the 1991 Gulf War more than 4,000 men and women served overseas, with no casualties or prisoners of war.



Continuing the Fight: Canada's Veterans more