Unwanted Warriors uncovers the history of Canada’s first casualties of the Great War – men who tried to enlist but were deemed “unfit for service” by medical examiners. Condemned as shirkers for not being in uniform, rejected volunteers faced severe ostracism. Nagging guilt, coupled with self-doubt about their social and physical worth, led many of these men to divorce themselves from society ... or worse.
Nic Clarke draws on the service files of 3,400 rejected volunteers to examine the deleterious effects that socially constructed norms of health and fitness had on individual men and Canadian society. He considers the mechanics of the military medical examination, the psychical and psychological characteristics that the authorities believed made a fighting man, and how evaluations changed as the war dragged on. He also brings to light the experiences of those who deliberately claimed disability to avoid service – a minority within the large population of rejected volunteers who felt denigrated, if not emasculated, by their exclusion from duty.
1 Grading Blocks of Meat: The Fit and the Unfit
2 No Longer Cause for Rejection
3 An Imperfect System
4 Clashing Concepts of Fitness
5 Not Visibly Different: Describing the Rejected
6 Uncounted Casualties: The Costs of Rejection
7 Claiming Disability to Avoid Military Service
Appendices, Notes, Bibliography
Nic Clarke is the curatorial manager of Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum. His research primarily focuses on disability and health in Canada during the Great War period. He has published articles on a variety of subjects, including the diet of Canadian soldiers during the Great War, hockey and the Great War, and the treatment of disabled children in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Canada.
...highly recommended for students of the Great War.
~Mark Humphries, Wilfred Laurier University, Canadian Military History, Vol 27, Issue 2
In Nic Clarke’s well-researched and well-written Unwanted Warriors: The Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the historian at the Canadian War Museum has provided his readers with an illuminating study pertaining to Canada and the First World War based largely on previously unexamined sources … Clarke provides his readers with a new way of looking at recruitment, loyalty, duty, casualties, and conscription in Canada between 1914 and 1919.
~Jordan A.S. Chase, Ontario History
This book is an interesting and very worthy addition to World War I historiography.
~Peter L. Belmonte, author of Forgotten Soldiers of World War I: America’s Immigrant Doughboys, Army History, No. 109