Zombies of WW2 in the Canadian Army

Here is the strange but true story of Zombies (Army) in World War II:

Before the below facts just a bit about the Zombies, they were really in Canadian Army and many general Canadian WW2 History books will talk about Zombies, see footnotes for sources.

Zombies generally did not see combat as a whole Force, except if the a Zombie willingly transfer to the Canadian Army and was sent overseas. Another exception would be some Zombies were sent to help to recapture the Alaskan Island of Kiska (with F.S.S.F. unit and the U.S. Army, etc.) on Aug. 15, 1943. 4

The following should answer mystery of the Zombies:

Zombie army, here is a complaint about Zombies by a General “that there are no men to replace them - except the Zombie army”. The General was Brigadier Bill Murphy from Canadian Army in Italy communicating to his family about Canadian Government handling of the conscription crisis.1

“… certainly convenient to send the Zombies …” C. G. “Cubby” Power, Minister Of Defence For Air said this quote and would resign over the conscription crisis connected to this.2

Zombies, which were a “… pejorative…” the whole country referred to the conscripts in the Canadian Army, only volunteers in the Army got to wear the word Canada on their shoulders of their uniforms. First conscripts in the Canadian Army were in Mar. 24, 1941, though were to be called the ‘R’ men and the Volunteers were to be the ’A’ troop.
Zombies got to march in drills indoors and have in door lectures while volunteers while marching on frozen terrain and had orders being barked at them.3.

NRMA (National Resources Mobilization Act), as of Apr. 1941, conscripts had to stay in the Army until the war ended, that conscripts were generally known as ‘zombies’. These zombies/conscripts men had not same amount of training as the General Service (volunteers for front lines), but some suggest the low opinion of some on these conscripts is not so fair as they did free up for others to volunteer to go overseas.4
Zombies would also come under bitter verbal attack by some when in 1944 General McNaughton need other 15,000 men for the front and the zombies would be fit enough and quick to send, yet when a campaign was started to get them to volunteer, most did not.4


  1. Page 228 of “A Nation Forged In Fire: Canadians And The Second World War 1939-1945.” By J. L. Granatstein and Desmond Morton. Published in 1989.
  2. Page 190 of “No Price Too High: Canadians and the Second World War”. By Terry Copp (with Richard Nielsen). Published 1996.
  3. Page 361-362 , 367 of “Marching As To War: Canada’s Turbulent Years 1899-1953.” By Pierre Berton, published in 2001.
  4. Page 239, 253 and 262-263 of “Out Of The Shadows: Canada In The Second World War.” Revised Edition, by W.A.B. Douglas and Brereton Greenhous, published in 1995.

An interesting twist on this is the story of the cruiser HMCS Uganda. The official policy of the Canadian government was that after VE Day only men who had specifically volunteered should continue to serve in the pacific. Uganda was already en route to join the British Pacific Fleet when the policy was announced and the majority of the crew decided that they did not want to serve in the Pacific. Uganda was forced to return home to Canada to repatriate most of the crew and missed a lot of the fighting around Japan.