Americans in the Canadian Army

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Americans in the Canadian Army

Brandon Niemeyer
Brandon Niemeyer

August 23rd, 2000, 10:10 pm #1

Fellow living historians and military gurus...

As I have stated earlier, some fellows & I are putting together a Canadian WWII display/uniform, etc. However, one problem we recently discussed was that of their accents. They have Southern accents and instead of them doing horrible "Canadian" accents like on some baaaad movies, we were wondering if there are any sources concerning Americans crossing the border and enlisting in the Canadian armies in the months prior to the United States involvement in the war. Any information, especially that on the internet, would be very helpful. We're trying to get our impressions as correct as possible, so we can feel as though we are giving real honor to the brave men who fought and died as soldiers in the Canadian armies and not some American bozos playing a World War II version of cowboys and indians.

Thanks,
Brandon
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Tim Everhart
Tim Everhart

August 24th, 2000, 3:04 pm #2

Brandon
I can't give you any hard statistics, but I can give you two instances of Americans (Southrons no less) in Canadian service.
In the series, Canada At War, produced by the CBC (back in the 60's, I think), there is a film clip of a pre-Pearl Harbor Canadian volunteer from the Deep South with a drawl as long as a coon dog's bay.
In Fred Cedarberg's autobiography "The Long Road Home", the Lanark and Renfrew Scottish pick up a young replacement who is immediately nicknamed "Tex" owing to his place of origin. This takes place in Italy, late '44 or early '45.
I hope this helps!
Tim
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

August 24th, 2000, 3:42 pm #3

WW II magazine just had a feature article on an American in the Canadian Army as well. It seems every regimental history I read mentions at least one or two Americans as well; I have a feeling they were fairly common, and the story goes that Canadian recruiters weren't all that discriminating. A lot of gravestones in Europe show underage boys who lied their way in (or people just looked the other way), and come to that I'm not sure what the official policy was. I have a feeling Americans were permitted legally to join, but I don't have any source to back that up. Hopefully someone can confirm that. Clive?
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Clive M. Law - Service Publications
Clive M. Law - Service Publications

August 24th, 2000, 6:35 pm #4

As Michael pointed out, there were many Americans enlisted in the Canadian military. Those who joined the RCAF and who were then posted overseas could wear the unique RCAF shoulder title with both "CANADA" and "USA" embroidered thereon.
The US manager of the American Club in London lobbied hard and long to get similar permission for US boys in the Cdn Army. Gen. McNaughton finally said no but I have seen a uniform (Marway, last weekend) with private purchase, Lonodon-made "CANADA" and "USA" flashes. These were worn on a walking-out BD as any self respecting Sgt Major would have had an apoplexy had he seen them on parade. The fact that permission was sought by the club manager implies that there were a fair number of US boys over there - obviously there would be many in Canada undergoing training etc..
MilArt does cover the London Home Guard company which was commanded by a retired US General and which consisted of US and Cdns (mostly US). On a similar subject, the Journal of the Company of Military Historians in the States recently published my article on the American Legion. This was 4 Battalions of the CEF, manned and officered by US citizens (97th, 211th, 212th, 2113, and 237th?).
I would venture to guess that at anytime prior to the US entry into the war, 3-5% of the Cdn Army was US.
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Glenn Kimmell
Glenn Kimmell

August 24th, 2000, 7:33 pm #5

Fellow living historians and military gurus...

As I have stated earlier, some fellows & I are putting together a Canadian WWII display/uniform, etc. However, one problem we recently discussed was that of their accents. They have Southern accents and instead of them doing horrible "Canadian" accents like on some baaaad movies, we were wondering if there are any sources concerning Americans crossing the border and enlisting in the Canadian armies in the months prior to the United States involvement in the war. Any information, especially that on the internet, would be very helpful. We're trying to get our impressions as correct as possible, so we can feel as though we are giving real honor to the brave men who fought and died as soldiers in the Canadian armies and not some American bozos playing a World War II version of cowboys and indians.

Thanks,
Brandon
Hey!You all, Eh!
There is a 7 video set on the Canadian Army in WW2 that I got from AMAZON.COM, that has early newsreals with a member of the Essex Scottish who states in his southern accent that he's from High Point North Carolina! Another real has a guy from Detriot who served with the Canadians in WWI and was joining up again.

Your call!
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Ian Kotchian
Ian Kotchian

August 25th, 2000, 8:21 pm #6

WW II magazine just had a feature article on an American in the Canadian Army as well. It seems every regimental history I read mentions at least one or two Americans as well; I have a feeling they were fairly common, and the story goes that Canadian recruiters weren't all that discriminating. A lot of gravestones in Europe show underage boys who lied their way in (or people just looked the other way), and come to that I'm not sure what the official policy was. I have a feeling Americans were permitted legally to join, but I don't have any source to back that up. Hopefully someone can confirm that. Clive?
United States law forbade American citizens from joining any foriegn armies. This was part of the US neutrality law. I have heard stories that FBI agents were on trains heading to Canada to try to foil attempts be Americans to join the Canadian Armed forces. I believe that this law is still in effect and that Americans cannot join any foriegn armies.
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

August 25th, 2000, 8:45 pm #7

I just had a conversation today with a MV owner friend of mine. He bought a surplus US Army HUMV which sat at the border for a year because it was not legal for export until it turned 15 years of age.

The ring mount was confiscated because it constituted "machine gun parts."

And if any American vehicle has been sold as surplus, it is not permitted back into the USA. It will be destroyed - ie a Sherman tank that went to Israel, cannot be sold back to an American citizen.

Of course, the Americans were all to happy to have thousands of Canadians volunteer for military service during Vietnam (and for that matter in the US Civil War). But I don't think their Neutrality Law stopped all that many people bent on enlisting in Canada - come to think of it, Roosevelt himself found some nifty ways around it to provide war aid to Britain.

Interesting point though, Ian. I wonder how much effort those FBI agents put into it. I suspect there are a lot of untold stories surrounding that. Wonder what Roosevelt thought about US citizens joining up to fight Hitler?

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Ian Kotchian
Ian Kotchian

August 25th, 2000, 9:37 pm #8

...on stupid US laws because I could go all day esp. with California law. I had read about the law in an article on the Eagle Squadron. The law is still in effect and was enforced when a retired US general who was Estonian by birth, traveled there to take command of the new Estonian Defense forces. All of his retirement benefits were stripped from him. It is not a major crime but it does appear on your criminal record. Think about it before you join the Foriegn Legion.
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Lawrence Frappier
Lawrence Frappier

August 26th, 2000, 2:35 am #9

United States law forbade American citizens from joining any foriegn armies. This was part of the US neutrality law. I have heard stories that FBI agents were on trains heading to Canada to try to foil attempts be Americans to join the Canadian Armed forces. I believe that this law is still in effect and that Americans cannot join any foriegn armies.
I may be mistaken, but I believe the law came into being to prevent Americans from going to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The US government went so far as to stamp all passports during that period "Not valid for travel to Spain".
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Rich McKie
Rich McKie

August 26th, 2000, 3:37 am #10

Hey!You all, Eh!
There is a 7 video set on the Canadian Army in WW2 that I got from AMAZON.COM, that has early newsreals with a member of the Essex Scottish who states in his southern accent that he's from High Point North Carolina! Another real has a guy from Detriot who served with the Canadians in WWI and was joining up again.

Your call!
Hello All,
I have read many accounts of Canadian soldiers coming across German-Americans serving in the German Army in The Great War, and I do recall stories of Iraqi-Americans (or possibly Iraqis who had spent some time in the States) being captured by the Allies during Desert Storm, but I don't recall reading any stories of German-Americans serving in the German Army during WW2. I have heard of German-Americans who were living in Germany being impressed into the German Army during the war, but does anyone know if numbers of Americans of German extraction returned to serve the Fatherland in that conflict?
Rich
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