Veterans Guard of Canada

VGC Cap Badge
Veterans Guard of Canada Cap Badge

With the outbreak of war in Europe in the fall of 1939, thousands of Canadians flocked to enlistment stations to do their part in the upcoming conflict. Among them were veterans of the First World War, the majority now in their forties, who once again were willing to serve their country. First told that they were too old for active service overseas, many of these veterans were turned away in favour of the young, able-bodied enlistees. The veterans, however, were not deterred; these men persisted with their attempts to enlist and eventually their voices were heard. The Canadian government agreed that their military experience could not be tossed aside and therefore established the Veteran’s Home Guard, later renamed the Veterans Guard of Canada, in May 1940. Following the example of the British Home Guard, the Veterans Guard of Canada was initially established as a defence force in the case of a German or Japanese attack on Canadian soil. Organized into numbered companies of approximately 250 men, the Veterans Guard included both Active and Reserve companies. Those in Active Companies served full-time and were rotated throughout the country while reserve companies served a militia role and generally remained in one location. Recruiting across the country, the Veterans Guard eventually reached its peak strength in June 1943 with 451 officers and 9,806 other ranks on Active service.

No. 23 Company, Veterans Guard of Canada. Lieut. Colin
No. 23 Company, Veterans Guard of Canada. Lieut. Colin “Scotty” Mann is kneeling, front left.

In addition to serving as a defence force and guarding military installations, the Veterans Guard also assumed the responsibility of guarding Canadian internment camps. Taking over from the Canadian Provost Corps, the Veterans Guard helped free up younger Canadians for overseas service. Thirty-seven active companies and seventeen internment camp staffs were eventually raised for these duties. While the vast majority of the Veterans Guard remained on Canadian soil for the duration of the war, a small number of companies were dispatched around the globe. The General Duty Company was attached to the Canadian Military Headquarters in London, England,  companies were dispatched to the Bahamas (No. 33 Coy.), British Guiana (No. 34 Coy.), and Newfoundland, and a smaller group escorted a shipment of mules to India.

In the later years of the war and as the threat of foreign invasion diminished, the reserve companies of the Veterans Guard were disbanded and the men returned to civilian life. For those on Active Duty, they continued with their duties around the country. With the end of the war and as Prisoners of War were slowly transferred back to Great Britain between 1945 and 1947, the Active companies were also disbanded. Those remaining assisted in escorting PoWs across the Atlantic. The Veterans Guard of Canada was officially struck off active service in 1947.

26 thoughts on “Veterans Guard of Canada

  1. My grandfather James Raffle Sr.served with the 11th B Co of the BC Vets Guard station in Alberta during the war june 19 1940-May 2 1946. My father Jim Raffle served as a driver with the Vets guard Oct 1940-1942 Work Point barracks Victoria and latter vancouver serving as a driver for driver for two Majors Harding and Collinson. He left to become a tank gunner 1942-1946

    1. Greetings Joyce;
      I have compiled an extensive list of VGC members, and note that your father was posted to Ioco, BC on 11 NOV 41.
      I would like to add additional info about him to my files. Please email me at
      homefront@sasktel.net

      Rob

    2. Greetings Joyce. I have an extensive list of VGC members on hand, with the details still expanding. I note that your father was a Cpl. with the 11B Co., VGC, at Ioco Detachment,, on 28 SEPT 41.

      Major A.J. Collinson was the Commanding Officer at Lethbridge Camp 133 in MAY 45.

  2. My father, Major Harry K. Clifton was active in the Veterans Guard at Monteith. Bowmanville and finally at Fort Henry.

    1. Greetings Terry,
      I have compiled an extensive list of VGC members, but your information on your father is new to me.
      I would ljke to add additional info. about his service to my extensive records. Please email me in this regard
      homefront@sasktel.net

      Rob

    2. Greetings,
      ,
      My records indicate your father was posted to Monteith, ON., Bowmanville, ON and Ft. Henry,ON.. There may well be other locations.

      Robert hENDERSON

  3. My great grandfather was in the Veterans Guards of Canada and would love to learn more about his service. If you have anything on Harry Redmile please let me know.

    1. Regretfully, still no information on this individual as of this date in my Data Base.

      Robert Hendersoin

    2. B14109, REDMILE, Harry William:
      26 JULY 40 Taken on strength, Haileyury, Ont. Pte. HQ Platoon
      18 SEPT 40 Monteith 2D CVompany
      1 NOV 41 Seebe, AB. Camp 130
      8 DEC 42 Monteith
      13 JAN 42 Bowmanville
      4 APR 42 Monteith
      23 OCT 45 Toronto Duty District 2
      3 NOV 45 Struck Off Strength, Toronto

  4. Did the Veterans Guard include any personnel rotated out iof active service after being wounded in other actions, such as at Dieppe?

    1. Thanks for your comment James. No, I’m not familiar with any men being wounded and subsequently transferred to the Veterans Guard. The only young replacements in the VGC that I’m aware of came after Germany’s surrender. These men had been training for overseas service but, after VE Day and VJ Day, they were not needed and instead transferred to the VGC to relieve the older vets.

      1. Thank you, Michael. After further research, I’ve rethought my protagonist as a WWI POW with sons in WWII conflicts. Quora is a great site for a writer to get in touch with people who know things not easily found on public websites. I appreciate your help.

    2. I documented on chap who was a cook in an Active Unit who encountered problems within the Unit. He was
      at an age where he transferred to the VGC to avoid his problems.

  5. Hi

    A question if I could. Would VGC members been eligible for the 39-45 War Medal and the CVSM?

    Thanks
    Cameron

    1. To elaborate on Michael’s reply, to qualify for the British War Medal (BWM) required a minimum of 28 days service between September 3, 1939 and September 2, 1945. To qualify for the Canadian Voluntary Service Medal (CVSM) required a minimum of 18 months service between the dates mentioned above. The clasp for the CVSM was only issued to members who served a minimum of 60 days outside Canada.

  6. I’m wondering if any younger men were allowed into this service, possibly in place of enlistment or avoiding conscription?

    1. Young men were not assigned to the Veterans Guard until mid-1945, after Germany’s surrender. These individuals, who had completed their basic training and were no longer needed for overseas service in Europe, were assigned to the regiment in order to replace the older veterans, many of whom had been serving since 1940.

      1. Thank you, Michael. This is a big help in a book I am writing. And since I have your attention, please allow me a followup question: Were there other service organizations that a young man could join that would allow him to evade conscription? I’m thinking, for example, of The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

  7. My uncle Wilfred Clarke who ha served with the British Black Watch during the 1st World War was part of the Veteran Guard at Espanola where he met my Aunt Mary DuPlessis but am not sure of the dates as I have recently been told he had also served elsewhere

    1. In my VGC listings. However, names were often mispelled:
      Under CLARK I do have H.S.W.; Thomas W.; Wilfred R.;William James; Under CLARKE is Henry Sidney Walter

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