Length of tours in WW2

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Length of tours in WW2

Dave
Dave

May 16th, 2012, 7:47 pm #1

Good day to you all,
I'm conducting some research for a feature film about Canadians in WW2.
The answer that currently eludes me is...

I recognize that participating in WW2 was voluntary, until 1944. If a Canadian soldier volunteered to participate in WW2, was he then committed to a length of time? a certain number of tours? For instance, in the movie "Memphis Belle", it was stated that B17 crews could return home after 25 or 50 sorties (I forget).

Was a Canadian solider committed for the entire war? so many months? so many tours? In particular, I'm focusing on a Canadian sniper. I'm venturing a guess that a sniper would not be sent home after X number of kills.

If someone could please answer my question it would be gratefully appreciated. Furthermore, perhaps you can point me to an online resource that discusses this?

Dave
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Ed Storey
Ed Storey

May 16th, 2012, 8:08 pm #2

When you enlisted in the military, either of the three service, you enlisted for the duration of the conflict. In the case of some occupations, your length of service in 'combat' or a 'tour' in the case bomber crewmen was for a prescribed number of operational missions. Having survived to the end of a prescribed number of missions would have meant reassignment to a desk job or perhaps to a training squadron.

In the case of the army and in a frontline unit, you were in until the end of hostilities or demobilization. Only through re-assignment, death, injury or some other medical condition would the length of time at the front be shortened. In the case of a sniper, kill totals only meant he was doing a good job.

With the war coming to an end in NW Europe and with the Western Allies turning their attention to the fight with Japan, Canadians serving were given the opporunity to volunteer for service in the Pacific. This happened before the Germans capitulated so those who sought continued adventure and volunteered to fight the Japanese ended up returning home to Canada sooner than those who had stayed in NW Europe.

When you look at enlistment and terms of servie, you also have the leave policy for those who had joined up early and some were actually allowed to return to Canada on leave. Remember, quite a few WWII Veterans spent six years overseas and for those who were lucky enough to survive, some were in combat units directly engaged with the enemy from July 1943 until May 1945.

If you want the hard facts on enlistment and leave policies, you will have to drill through the various military publications that outline the details.
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

May 16th, 2012, 9:42 pm #3

There was also a policy that if you were wounded three times, you were permitted early discharge.

The history MEN, ARMS AND GOVERNMENTS covers manpower policy and is one of the four volumes detailing the Canadian Army's history in the Second World War. The author is C.P. Stacey. The book is available for free download online from the Canadian Forces' Directorate of History and Heritage, or can be found in most university libraries.

Here is the link:

http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp ... =1&BfId=31

C.P. Stacey's book THE CANADIAN ARMY 1939-1945: An Official Summary, which was published in 1948, is a good precis, as is SIX YEARS OF WAR, which was Volume I of the Canadian Army's official 3-volume history written as an expansion of the 1948 summary.

And here is the link to the official histories:

http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp ... ex-eng.asp

All are available for free download online, and some of the later volumes can be found in HTML form at hyperwar.com
Last edited by dorosh on May 16th, 2012, 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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J.Garnier
J.Garnier

May 16th, 2012, 10:27 pm #4

Hello gentlemen, to add a little information on the subject of a "tour" of service,in the RCAF a "tour" was 30 operational sorties over enemy territory.Many pilots retuned to serve as instructor. In the case of fighter pilots it was dtermined that so many hours of flight time or so many sorties, entitled a pilot to be returned to Canada.
Jo
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 16th, 2012, 11:18 pm #5

Oh, and to respond to the intial poster - Memphis Belle finished its tour on May 17, 1943. He is correct that at that time, 25 missions was the requirement. As missions became safer, the requirement was upped to 30, then 35 missions IIRC as the war went on. I think medium bomber tours in the USAAF in the ETO may have been 50. Interesting to note though that Memphis Belle was not first; Hell's Angels of 303 BG finished its tour on 14 May 1943, beating the Belle by 3 days. Also, the crew of the Memphis Belle was a composite, and not all crewmen selected as the "official" crew had actually flown in the Belle during the 25 missions - in particular, Jim Verinis had moved on from co-pilot status to flying his own ship, but many of the other crew positions had seen substitutes, etc. Robert Morgan talks about all of it in his excellent autobiography.

All trivia, but interesting.

Good luck to the initial poster with his movie project, and feel free to post with additional questions here or contact members of the board via email; that is of course why we are here.
Michael Dorosh
Webmaster
canadiansoldiers.com
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Doug Townend
Doug Townend

May 16th, 2012, 11:52 pm #6

Good day to you all,
I'm conducting some research for a feature film about Canadians in WW2.
The answer that currently eludes me is...

I recognize that participating in WW2 was voluntary, until 1944. If a Canadian soldier volunteered to participate in WW2, was he then committed to a length of time? a certain number of tours? For instance, in the movie "Memphis Belle", it was stated that B17 crews could return home after 25 or 50 sorties (I forget).

Was a Canadian solider committed for the entire war? so many months? so many tours? In particular, I'm focusing on a Canadian sniper. I'm venturing a guess that a sniper would not be sent home after X number of kills.

If someone could please answer my question it would be gratefully appreciated. Furthermore, perhaps you can point me to an online resource that discusses this?

Dave
CWAC members were enlisted for the duration of the conflict plus one year. The 'plus one year' was stipulated because CWAC members had taken over much of Army administration and would be needed to demob the combat troops. Some 800 CWAC members were sent overseas to do the demob processing.

DT.
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Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson

May 16th, 2012, 11:53 pm #7

When you enlisted in the military, either of the three service, you enlisted for the duration of the conflict. In the case of some occupations, your length of service in 'combat' or a 'tour' in the case bomber crewmen was for a prescribed number of operational missions. Having survived to the end of a prescribed number of missions would have meant reassignment to a desk job or perhaps to a training squadron.

In the case of the army and in a frontline unit, you were in until the end of hostilities or demobilization. Only through re-assignment, death, injury or some other medical condition would the length of time at the front be shortened. In the case of a sniper, kill totals only meant he was doing a good job.

With the war coming to an end in NW Europe and with the Western Allies turning their attention to the fight with Japan, Canadians serving were given the opporunity to volunteer for service in the Pacific. This happened before the Germans capitulated so those who sought continued adventure and volunteered to fight the Japanese ended up returning home to Canada sooner than those who had stayed in NW Europe.

When you look at enlistment and terms of servie, you also have the leave policy for those who had joined up early and some were actually allowed to return to Canada on leave. Remember, quite a few WWII Veterans spent six years overseas and for those who were lucky enough to survive, some were in combat units directly engaged with the enemy from July 1943 until May 1945.

If you want the hard facts on enlistment and leave policies, you will have to drill through the various military publications that outline the details.
My father who served with the QOR of C in WW2 was one of those who volunteered for service in the Pacific theater when the war in Europe was finished. However, he volunteered after the conflict in Europe was over simply because anyone who did was offered a 3 month leave at home and as stated by Mr. Storey were sent home before the others. He came home in mid to late June 45 where as the rest of the Regiment I believe came home in late fall of 45. However,Dad did not do this to seek further adventure but to be with my mother and me whom he had not seen in over 5 years. As we all know the war in the Pacific ended in early August and as my dad later stated it was a gamble he took which it paid off. Thanks for bringing back another memory of my dad and his dinner time table talks about the good and bad times serving overseas during WW2. This was one of the good ones!
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Ed Storey
Ed Storey

May 17th, 2012, 12:38 am #8

Good day to you all,
I'm conducting some research for a feature film about Canadians in WW2.
The answer that currently eludes me is...

I recognize that participating in WW2 was voluntary, until 1944. If a Canadian soldier volunteered to participate in WW2, was he then committed to a length of time? a certain number of tours? For instance, in the movie "Memphis Belle", it was stated that B17 crews could return home after 25 or 50 sorties (I forget).

Was a Canadian solider committed for the entire war? so many months? so many tours? In particular, I'm focusing on a Canadian sniper. I'm venturing a guess that a sniper would not be sent home after X number of kills.

If someone could please answer my question it would be gratefully appreciated. Furthermore, perhaps you can point me to an online resource that discusses this?

Dave
This discussion leads to the GS badge. With volunteers being available to serve anywhere at anytime and conscrips only being allowed to serve in Canada; the GS badge was very important to the Army volunteers in uniform in Canada as it distinguished them from the conscripts.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 17th, 2012, 4:51 am #9

Good day to you all,
I'm conducting some research for a feature film about Canadians in WW2.
The answer that currently eludes me is...

I recognize that participating in WW2 was voluntary, until 1944. If a Canadian soldier volunteered to participate in WW2, was he then committed to a length of time? a certain number of tours? For instance, in the movie "Memphis Belle", it was stated that B17 crews could return home after 25 or 50 sorties (I forget).

Was a Canadian solider committed for the entire war? so many months? so many tours? In particular, I'm focusing on a Canadian sniper. I'm venturing a guess that a sniper would not be sent home after X number of kills.

If someone could please answer my question it would be gratefully appreciated. Furthermore, perhaps you can point me to an online resource that discusses this?

Dave
As long as we are piling on, it is worth noting that snipers in the Canadian Army in the Second World War were employed in infantry battalions in scout-sniper roles, and did more than just traditional sharpshooting missions. My understanding is they were the battalion's integral reconnaissance specialists; originally assigned to individual rifle companies, and then later in a special Scout Platoon, under a Scout Officer. Given the offensive role of the Canadian Army for the latter half of the war, the employment of the scout/snipers was as often in reconnaissance as it was in shooting and individual battalion war diaries seem to confirm that.

While First World War stories about sniper tallying kills, etc., may be something like accurate, I don't know that I've read all that much about the culture of Canadian military snipers in the Second World War but there doesn't seem to be a lot to suggest that there was as much time spent in their sharpshooting role. Certainly the amount of time spent in static positions in the latter war was considerably less, restricted to periods of quiet such as the Arielli front in Italy, the Caen front following D-Day, or the Nijmegen Salient in the winter of 1944-45.

Service Publications has a book on sniper equipment, WITHOUT WARNING, available viahttp://www.servicepub.com that may be of interest.
Michael Dorosh
Webmaster
canadiansoldiers.com
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Doug Townend
Doug Townend

May 17th, 2012, 10:55 am #10

This discussion leads to the GS badge. With volunteers being available to serve anywhere at anytime and conscrips only being allowed to serve in Canada; the GS badge was very important to the Army volunteers in uniform in Canada as it distinguished them from the conscripts.
An interesting factoid!!

Because of the way CWAC members were enlisted,duration of conflict plus one year, they automatically qualified to wear the GS badge. This caused some confusion but was quickly resolved and CWAC uuniforms were issued with the GS badge sewn on them.

Some CWAC members sewed a penny under the GS badge to make it stand out on their uniform.

DT.
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