February 29, 1944

LIB
NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Will

the minister look into the matter further and see that there is no undue delay in having the mail forwarded to these boys?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I certainly will keep after it. Last night the Postmaster General mentioned that preference is given, as my hon. friend knows, to casualties in hospitals, but of course he was referring, as my hon. friend points out, to mail actually marked "in hospital"; otherwise it would go to the unit.

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NAT

Percy Chapman Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

I was informed by Colonel Underwood, who has the responsibility for overseas mail, that it is necessary for the service man when he is transferred from one camp to another to sign a card stating where his mail is to be forwarded; perhaps that had special reference to air force personnel. If that applies to the air force, however, I presume it would apply also to the army; and if a man fails to do that, the mail continues to pile up at his last designated address. It seems to me that the service, the air force or the army if this applies there, should assume responsibility with respect to every individual at a particular address, to see that the mail is forwarded to the new address. The members of the air force are not allowed to tell their families their new addresses; they are prohibited from giving the address of the station at which they are located, let alone giving any advance notice as to where they are to be transferred. According to my information the whole responsibility rests upon the individual service man to state where he is to be moved and where his mail is to be readdressed.

Mr. RALSTON I shall leave my colleague the Minister of National Defence for Air to deal with the air force regulations, because I know nothing about them. As far as the army is concerned, as my hon. friend knows a man is entitled to give his relatives his new address, that is to say the name of the new unit to which he is going, so that that situation does not apply. Further than that, the postal corps attached to that unit will forward1 the mail if they find that the man has moved, so that the

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mail will chase the man- around until it finally reaches him. It does not pile up in the unit to which he was attached.

There are perhaps one or two other points I should mention while I am dealing with these matters. I would refer to only one point in connection with the remarks of the hon. member for Temiseouata. I do not want this house or this country to get any idea that Canadians form the majority or any large part of the fifth army. There are a certain number of Canadians attached to the fifth army, but that army is composed of British and United States soldiers, while the eighth army is composed of British and Canadian soldiers. I think the remarks of the hon. member, which would suggest that the British are not in this war in Italy, do a grievous wrong to a people who have been in this war from the very beginning, a country which has given more than any other country, I think, to help make success possible.

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NAT
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

A few; one unit. At a

time when Britain was short of everything she sent her men and her equipment to different fronts, though she could ill afford to do so. We Canadians are proud of the fact that the first Canadian division was in Britain and was the key of the force which was holding that citadel; but that citadel was not held simply by the Canadian forces alone. It was held because of the stout-heartedness and fortitude of the British people at that time, because of their willingness to run risks in order to see to it that the enemy was not allowed to come closer but was kept at bay on different fronts; I am thinking particularly of the Mediterranean fronts, in Greece, in Crete and in North Africa.

Then the hon. member for Lethbridge put certain questions which he wanted me to answer specifically and categorically. I only wish to say that in the first place I think the hon. member knows that the questions with which he was dealing were not germane to the items before the committee. There will be a time to discuss rehabilitation. In the remarks I made the other afternoon I was dealing with the effort which the forces themselves were putting forward in order to see to it that while men were in the army they were made as fit as possible to take up civilian avocations, and I was indicating the kind of machinery, the committees and the sort of administration being set up by the forces for that purpose. I only say to my hon. friend that if he will read the speech from the throne he will find

indicated there the scope of the measures which the government intend to bring down in connection with the matter of rehabilitation. As I said the other night, I am not in a position, nor do I propose to make any announcement with regard to the extent of that policy, but the measures will speak for themselves when they are before the house.

The hon. member for Renfrew South spoke of the pulhems system. I know what he said, and when he speaks in connection with a matter of this kind I regard what he says as being entitled to special attention. He said that more consideration should be given to the man's statement. As a physician of very long standing himself, I am sure that that advice comes from his own experience in diagnosing the condition of patients. I know nothing about it, but it sounds like common sense that attention should be given to the history given by the patient. I will also agree that that history has to be checked up, having regard to the clinical treatment.

The hon. member asked whether consideration had been given to an amalgamation of the medical services of the armed forces. Further consideration is not being given to it. It has been considered many times, and it is considered that that action would not contribute to efficiency or economy in personnel. Consideration might be given to a revision of the organization of all federal medical services when the war is over. But the special needs of the three armed services make it essential that the medical officers be trained in methods of examinations and treatment peculiar to the disabilities and personalities to be served.

Another point which the committee must consider is the geographical consideration contributing to the need for a separate type of service. For instance, air force personnel are widely scattered from military camps. You cannot make a combination of those services, because it is simply geographically and physically impossible to do so. In the field of hospitalization, and the common use of medical services, the duplication of services-and I think my hon. friend will agree in this-has to a large extent been successfully avoided by means of the wartime hospitalization committee. My hon. friend knows consultant and specialist services are used in common by all four medical services.

Then, he asked with regard to the report of the medical assignment and procurement board. There is a misapprehension with regard to that matter. The report which has been handed to the government, and to me, because I happen to be the minister through whom the board reports, is not a report of the medical assignment and procurement board, but is, as

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my hon. friend probably knows, a report of regional committees, appointed to make surveys on different subjects. That is, they are committees of physicians throughout the dominion.

In the document which was handed in there is no report of the board, as a board. This report consists of surveys which contain a very great deal of valuable information, and consists of a great number of recommendations which have been made by the various subcommittees or regional committees appointed to deal with each particular subject. There is a committee, I think, on nursing, a committee on hospitalization, a committee on war-time manpower and so on.

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LIB
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I do not know just what my hon. friend means by "coordinated."

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LIB
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The central board itself has never had each of those reports and said, "We approve this, and we do not approve that." They are all separate reports. The question as to whether they shall be tabled is under consideration. I am strongly disposed to have them tabled, because I think they contain information which will be of general value not only to the services, but also to the medical profession which has contributed in their preparation, and in gathering the data. They would also have a great value to the public.

As a' matter of fact, I can tell the committee that I asked the secretary of the board if he would have prepared for the board a summary Df these reports in order that they might be in readable form, with the idea that, after consideration was given, and if the decision was made to table the reports, they could be tabled in full. The summaries would be there for people to read, for the use of the press, or for anyone who cared to read them. That matter is under consideration, and I expect it will be determined shortly.

The hon. member for Parkdale spoke with regard to reinforcements. I do not think I can add anything to what I said as reported at pages 440 and 441 of Hansard. We have long since gone past those items. My hon. friend has brought it up to-night. I say to him I have nothing to add and nothing to take back from the information I gave the committee at that time. I shall not take the time of the committee to read what I said, but I put it as succinctly as I possibly could. It is plain, and I think it is clear. I think the only

doubt my hon. friend has is as to whether or not sufficient provision has been made for casualties. On that I can only refer him to what I have already said, namely, that after consultation with those who, I think, know best, and having regard to the circumstances which are likely to arise, it is thought that the provision for casualties is sufficient. I have told him, as I told the committee, that at the present time the pool in the United Kingdom is well up to the plan, to full strength, and that that pool will be reduced as casualties unfortunately occur. In order to maintain that pool, or to replenish it, we are budgeting for 4,000 men a month during the year, and if those 4,000 men a month are realized it will mean that at the end of the year after casualties have been incurred-if they are casualties of not more than the scale which has been laid down-the pool overseas will be maintained at adequate strength, and the number in Canada will remain practically undiminished.

There is a number in Canada, as I have told the committee, of some 60,000 general service personnel suitable for overseas service, in training centres and in units as at the end of March this year. That is our estimate.

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NAT
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Yes, those are volunteers. Then, as I say, those men will be withdrawn and gradually sent overseas at the rate of approximately 4,000 a month. We are budgeting for an intake of something like a similar amount. If that intake is realized it will mean that the pool overseas-if the estimate of casualties is not exceeded-will remain, and the number in Canada will remain exactly the same. If that intake goes down, that is to say if there is a falling off toward the end of the year, it will mean that toward the end of the year that pool overseas will be maintained but the pool in Canada will be reduced by the deficiency. I think that is as frank as I can be with regard to that.

I also add that there still remain in Canada about 50,000 N.R.M.A. personnel who would be available for reinforcements^ provided the emergency arose, and the necessary action were taken. The hon. member's quarrel was that action was not taken immediately, and of course that is where he differs from some of the rest of us.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

May I ask one question? The minister said in connection with a question I raised last night almost at the conclusion of the sitting that there were 73,000 of N.R.M.A. men in Canada. He now says

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there are 60,000. I presume there is an explanation for the difference between the two figures?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

There is, I said 60,000, and that is a low figure. I should have said that in mentioning the number which might be available to send overseas I was counting only 50,000 of them.

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NAT
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Yes, 50,000 of the 73,000. My hon. friend asked about the 73,000, and1 I have the figures here to give him. About mid-January there were practically 73,000 N.R.M.A. personnel on strength. Of that number forty-seven per cent were in operational troops in Canada; fifteen per cent were in non-operational troops, twenty per cent in training, eight per cent in depot reselection and disposal units and seven per cent on leave. That means that they are on extended leave, in connection with forestry, mining and so on. That seven per cent is about 5,000, so that the net number in Canada apart from those on leave is something like 68,000. Of these 68,000 I am suggesting that about 50,000 would be medically fit for overseas service.

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NAT
LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I should have said also,

and I am now reminded that this number of which I am speaking is not simply in Canada alone. It is in the north American area, in the western hemisphere. There are some in Labrador, some in the Caribbean, some in Newfoundland and a few in Alaska.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

The minister has mentioned troops in other parts of the world, and in that connection there is a matter I wish to bring up before his appropriations are passed. In the newspapers of Canada this morning the Associated Press carried an interview with an army intelligence officer of the United States, on which the minister may have some information. The news item is as follows:

A United States army intelligence officer said to-night loose talk, mostly radiating from Seattle, enabled the Japanese to withdraw thousands of men and vast quantities of material out of Kiska last August to leave invading United States and Canadian forces "with a hollow victory tantamount to defeat."

He went on to say:

Common was the knowledge in Seattle that we planned to attack Kiska and, prior to the invasion, unauthorized persons, both military and civilian, openly disclosed the date, August 15.

As a result the Japs got out, voluntarily. Not one remained on the island when our troops arrived at three o'clock in the morning. Some scattered machine-gun fire the day before, reported by our reconnaissance fliers, indicated presence of hostile troops then. Even these were gone when we got there.

They knew we were coming-and when. So accurately and so far in advance were the Japs tipped off that, had they chosen to implement their forces, they might have annihilated us.

I raise the question at this time because it is apropos of this appropriation, though I was particularly pleased to note that no reference was made to any leaks as far as our Canadian people are concerned. Leaks are a matter of great concern; and I would ask the minister if he has any comment to make in connection with this dispatch, because it does seem to me that this is a good time for the minister and the government to caution the Canadian people on this particular point which is perhaps more important at the present time than any other because, not so much on account of what we are saying in Canada, but because of incorrect statements made by people in high positions outside Canada that this war will be over in 1944 so far as Germany is concerned, it is important that the Canadian people should realize that we are a long way yet from winning this war, and therefore we should as a people realize that loose talk cannot be tolerated now any more than it could be tolerated two or three years ago. I am not so sure but that people in this country are a little prone to treat the whole question of the war a little more lightly now than we as the Canadian people should. Here is a case in point of what loose talk can do. I can quite understand that loose talk may be just thoughtlessness. Nevertheless, whether it be merely thoughtlessness or by design, loose talk has the same result, and I was astounded to realize that because of loose talk in another country we might have had a very serious situation facing the Kiska expedition.

I shall have accomplished my purpose in rising to-night if I can bring to the attention of the government and of the house and of the Canadian people the importance of seeing to it that we maintain our war fervour, if you like, at this particular time because I realize, as I think hon. members and the government and the people generally do, that we are a long way from the end, and that this is no time for us to relax in our efforts. I think it is time the people of Canada recognize our responsibility in the matter of loose talk, and I should like to hear from the minister on that because I think it is important from the point of view of our morale and from the point of view of our national security as well, because

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the more optimistic our people become, and perhaps without proper justification, it is only natural that the looser their talk, the more careless their utterance tends to become.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

My hon. friend and I very often do not agree, but I should like to go on record now as supporting everything he has just said.

In the first place, with regard to the dispatch which he has read, while I do not wish that we should pat ourselves on the back, I think we have done a particularly good job, and here I am speaking not only for the army, but for all the staffs and for the Canadian people generally, and particularly the people of. western Canada, when I say that I do not think security was ever more loyally observed than it was in connection with the Kiska operation. I mean that the people who saw the boats being loaded and knew that troops were being withdrawn and who were bound to get some idea of the direction in which those troops were going, kept their mouths shut. At least it never got to the ears of our intelligence branches that there had been any leaks in connection with that expedition. That went for the relatives of the boys who missed their mail and knew that something must be doing, and for the boys themselves who loyally observed security regulations. I do think that Kiska was an example of staff work and team work by the army, the navy and the air force, because they were all in it, and civilians, too, which could well be emulated in operations of the future.

With regard to my hon. friend's other point, I endeavoured when I was making my opening statement to the committee to emphasize as strongly as I could my own conviction that the idea that the war is over is perhaps the one factor that will be the strongest in lengthening the war of any factor of which one can conceive. When people get the idea that the war is over, there is sure to be, as my hon. friend says, a relaxation, a feeling that we do not need to work quite as hard to win. That is exactly what our enemies are working for and playing for, to get us in a state of complacency or to get us tired out and tired of it all, which might give them an opportunity to force or exact or obtain some better terms than the terms now facing them of unconditional surrender. As I said at the opening of the last war loan, if I were giving a motto to the people of Canada for 1944-there used to be a preacher in our church who gave his people a text for the year on New Year's day -my text to the people of Canada in the year 1944 would be: Don't let up. I agree

with my hon. friend that we can only keep up the pressure in connection with men, equipment, and money if we don't let up, and if we restrain ourselves in the matters we would like to talk about, restrain ourselves from giving any inside information that we may have and would like to communicate to somebody else to convince them that we are in on the know. We should endeavour at all times to restrain ourselves from indulging in that very agreeable form of self-exultation, and just keep any information we have to ourselves until this show is over. I do not think there is any time in history when coming events have been foreshadowed in the headlines the way they have been in this war. Sometimes I feel like deploring the amount of publicity which is given to what are regarded as future events. Of course it is so, in these days of rapid communication, and when so many people have to be "in on it", that a great many people do know, and a democratic people, particularly, demand information and consider that they ought to be "let in" as far as their leaders can let them in. I only hope that the desire to satisfy that legitimate longing to have information in a war in which people have everything invested, not only their money but their men as well, will not lead anybody to go too far and endanger lives and the success of operations by giving more information than is absolutely necessary to accomplish the purpose which I have suggested.

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February 29, 1944