Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Vance, Jonathan F.


My project explores war weariness in the First World War, especially regarding the Canadian Corps. The first section (legal, disciplinary, and medical systems) looks at the army policies, structures, and personnel in place to deal with morale, discipline, endurance, motivation, and medical problems. These structures served to 'measure' the problems facing individual soldiers and units, and attempted to address these issues before they became more widespread and intractable. Policies were also designed to mitigate emerging problems and to ensure that sufficient troops were in the line and able to perform their duties adequately. Unfortunately, these systems were often insufficient to deal with emerging problems, and thus the next section explores how these problems played out for the Corps in two periods: April-August 1917, and July-November 1918. These periods provide insight into the contributing factors to the onset, development, and negative consequences of individual and collective war weariness, as well as mitigating factors that helped offset it. These periods were also chosen to highlight the comparative nature of this project, whereby the Canadian experience was juxtaposed with other armies on the Western Front, as well as with Canadian forces over the course of the second half of the war. Other armies were suffering 'wear and tear' and indicating manifestations of incipient breakdown, but the Canadians were able to carry on without substantial reductions in fighting effectiveness or large-scale indiscipline. The reasons why the Corps was able to prevail despite the emerging and collective war weariness will be explored in this project.