Today we read a lot about the psychological ramifications of war on soldiers. I remember when I was young I had the general belief the soldiers of the Korean conflict, WW2 & 1, the so-called Great War, were fighting for things the whole country believed in and when the returning soldiers got home they were welcomed with open arms etc. This is generally - and more so than not, but not entirely - true. The country was seriously divided on the war issue and many felt Canada, having never been directly threatened in any way, had no business fighting - especially with the memories of the men lost in WW1 being fresh in everyone’s mind. In the United States, things weren't much different. And while parades and parties helped, once everything settled down, eventually you had to be alone with your thoughts.
Recently I have discovered a few old newspaper articles that I found very thought provoking. One deals with prejudice. Two deal with concerns about how people back home will act towards the returning soldiers and the other deals with the death of a returned war hero. The times have changed, but the people … maybe not so much
Lack of Homes Discourages Men Seeking Courses
at Rehabilitation Centre, Says Capt. H. J. Sale
16 February 1945 - Many young veterans interested in becoming better and more productive citizens by studying trades or pre-university subjects, are unable to obtain living accommodation while they attend study courses at Toronto Rehabilitation Centre, 50 Gould St.
An occasional family will let a young veteran a room in their "refined home," IF he belonged to their favorite branch of the armed services and IF he is a "very fine cultured boy who doesn't smoke and doesn't drink." He may jump those hurdles, but is tripped up if he has a non-English-sounding name.
"The other day a woman who said she was highly refined, refused to allow a young flier to live at her home, because he has a foreign-sounding name," said Capt. Howard Julien Sale, registrar at the school. "I explained that he was a Canadian Indian, who had done two tours of operations in bombers. She insisted he was a foreigner. I was a bit annoyed; such people don't insist that only those with English-sounding names be allowed in our navy, army and air force. And these boys didn't wonder what kind of names they were fighting for."
Forced to Quit
Flt. Sgt. Ron Ringler, 24, navigator with nearly five years military service, whose home is in Guelph, is one student who is giving up his pre-university course because he cannot get accommodation for himself, his English-born wife and their 10-months-old Canadian-born son. "I'm not the first one who has had to quit and there will be hundreds more," said Ringler, who "supposed" he now would go to work at anything he could get.
Capt. Sale emphasized that students at the school were young men trying to get ahead under a rehabilitation scheme which allows them a rising scale of allowances starting at $60 a month for an unmarried man without dependents. "They haven't enough money to be heavy drinkers or chain smokers, no matter how much they might like an occasional cigarette and glass of beer," he said.
Money is one of the major problems for the students, most of whom have not received the service gratuity they had been told would reach them a month after discharge. Capt Sale has been applying since last September for his gratuity, but hasn't received it yet.
Mainly Seek Explanation
"I thought overseas service would place a veteran in preferred position, but the system seems cock-eyed," he said. "Some who haven't been outside the country have received their money a month after discharge, others in the same category haven't. We tried to figure it, out alphabetically, but we find A's who have it and who haven't; Z's who have it and who haven't. It would seem that a man who'd been a prisoner of war would be in a preferred position, but one student here who was wounded at Dieppe and was a prisoner for two years before he was repatriated has been waiting since last August for his gratuity."
Other problems of young veterans are psychological. Capt. Sale, whose head was bashed in in England and who was the first person so seriously injured to recover, considers he was fortunate in his reorientation to civil life because his wife was warned of veterans' psychological problems. "A great surgeon, Lieut.-Col. Harry Botterell, saved my life at the Canadian military hospital at Basingstoke, Eng., and when he preceded me out here on a visit by three months he went to my wife and told her how I would act for a few months," said Capt. Sale, who has a plate serving as part of his skull on the right side.
Wife Gives View
"I don't know what he told my wife, but I know the condition of other young veterans was similar to mine only more moderate," said Capt. Sale.
Capt. Sale's wife told The Globe and Mail last night that "women don't begin to realize how difficult it is for men to reorient themselves in civil life." She has several times been "more than grateful" for the information she was given before her husband's return and has passed it on to other women whose husbands are due to return from overseas.
"An ex-serviceman finds people he meets are selfish and thoughtless; it irritates him because they are so far below the standard of Canadians he lived with overseas," Mrs. Sale said. "It's not entirely the fault of the people here, they haven't been close enough to war to think of any one besides themselves.
A serviceman hasn't been in social contact with women, and he finds it almost impossible to grasp a woman's point of view about things. He's been accustomed, to military precision, and it bothers him when children are disobedient or don't do things immediately when they're told.
Understanding Primary Need
"Annoyance and irritability are a matter of nerves, and he may be annoyed at the slightest thing. A woman should understand him well enough to know it was not natural for him to be like that before and to realize he won't be like that very long if she shows understanding. Not sympathy, but understanding; people sometimes confuse the two. They don't want sympathy.
"If they really know how to go about it, women could do a great deal for their ex-servicemen. They should very definitely guard against showing disapproval. And they shouldn't argue."
Capt. Sale said that within two months he was nearer his natural self than a man without an understanding wife would be in a year.
"I find," he said, "that the youngsters here need encouragement and praise. They often are quick-tempered and easily tired, they're not sure of themselves. If an instructor were to be exasperated with a boy who failed at a task described to him scores of times, that boy would go straight downhill; what the instructor would do is give him the easiest possible task and find cause to praise him and so build up his confidence to do bigger tasks. But the present lack of accommodation for them isn't very encouraging."
WE CAN TAKE IT
11 July 1945 - "WHEN I was discharged from the Army, I remember going
to get my food ration book. In the first office I called at I found a
large sign which read: "New-born babies and ex-soldiers apply third
floor City Hall." I thought at the time that it was rather an amusing
classification. But I suppose that there is some similarity between a
new-born citizen and a reborn civilian, for that is really what an ex-soldier
is. Most of us have been listening to an amazing amount of propaganda,
well meant, of course, on how to react to our friends, our children, our
wives, our former employers, and practically everybody else in Canada!
Now I think it's about time that one of us stood up and told you how to
react to us. We are not a race apart; and we do not like you thinking
that we are. We want to come back to this country of ours and be accepted
by all of you as normal human beings. There has been a good deal of tripe
written in some magazines, making us look like wild-eyed neurotics, strange
creatures full of moods and impulses, always flying off the deep end.
Well, that's all nonsense! All of us are basically the same people when
we return as when we went away. True, we have picked up some mannerisms
and attitudes which are going to seem strange to you at first. All we
ask is that you bear with us for a while until we get back into the humdrum
groove. And civil life looks humdrum to us now. We know that thousands
came back from the last war. Each one of them faced the same problem that
we are facing now. And I for one do not think that this generation is
made of softer stuff than the last one. The record of the last five years
has proved that. I am tired of being pictured as a poor bewildered creature
who literally doesn't know his left from his right, and who has to be
shepherded into this strange new world. Perhaps some of us are a bit jittery,
but just ask yourself how many real veterans you know who have to be led
around by the hand, and by veterans I mean the front-line soldiers, the
navy men with sea duty behind them, the air force boys who have done a
tour of "ops ." Again I want to make the point that we are still
normal human beings, and even if we are not, we are trying to be. All
you civilians have to do is to come half way towards us in this rehabilitation
thing and most of us will certainly go half way towards you. It is a very
good sign that the Canadian people realize that a problem does exist-that
is a lot more than can be said of them in the years following the last
war. If there is such a thing as a national conscience it should be thoroughly
awake by this time. All I can hope is that it will remain awake for years
after this war is finished and done with. For remember this, you can't
drop the problem of rehabilitation two or three years after the war. It
will remain a major task of this generation for the rest of its lifetime.
Now, what has the Army done to a man? During training his objective was
set for him and kept constantly before his eyes, and that objective was
the defeat of the enemy. Many men, especially the younger ones, had lived
their lives with no clear cut objective or goal in view. On entering the
service, they were subjected to a course of training which meant all their
waking hours bent to the one task in hand. That task was to become combatant
soldiers, to be able to take their place in the section or the troop,
and to play their part in a very close-knit team on the battlefield."
Captain Frank Jones July 1945
AIRFORCE HERO DIES SUDDENLY; BRILLIANT FLYER
B. F. N. Rawson Youngest Wing Commander; Won DFC and Bar
24 January 1945 - Wing-Commander Byron (Barney) F. N. Rawson, D.F.C. and
Bar, died Sunday evening at his home, 51 Robinson Street, Hamilton, Ont.
following a complete nervous breakdown, after completing two tours of
operations on heavy bombers with the R.C.A.F. overseas.
The late wing-commander was born at Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario, on the
third of December, 1922, and received his early education in Brampton
For the last ten years he has lived in Hamilton, where his father, Capt.
the Rev. Norman Rawson, is minister of Centenary United Church, and where
he attended Westdale Collegiate and McMaster University.
He enlisted in the R.C.A.F. immediately following his 18th birthday and
after the usual preliminary training, graduated with distinction and received
He proceeded overseas where his record was most brilliant. He had two
complete tours of operations over Germany, one of which was with the famous
Pathfinder Squadron where he had two planes P for Peter and B for Baker.
He received the D.F.C. and Bar and was invested by the King personally
on station in the spring of 1944.
His promotions were rapid and at 21 he became the youngest Wing-Commander
in the British Empire. Along with his skill as a pilot, he had splendid
executive ability and was tactics officer at No. 6 Bomber Group, and
later was operations officer at the famous Linton, Air Base. It was during
this later period that he undertook his second tour of operations against
the better judgment of his superior officers, who finally yielded to his
He returned to Canada during the summer of 1945, and this fall entered
Osgoode Hall in Toronto to study law.
He is survived by his parents, Capt. the Rev. Norman Rawson and Mrs. Rawson,
and three sisters, Mrs. Roger Jackson of Winchester, Virginia; Mrs. Donald
Anderson of Mimico, and Miss Norma, nurse-in-training at the General Hospital,
The funeral will be held in Centenary United Church, Wednesday afternoon,
December 25, at 3:30 o'clock.
Something to think about ...