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McGill Remembers WWII
  1. Students to Soldiers
  2. Portraits of Soldiers
  3. The Home Front
  4. Victory: The Return Home
There were 5568 men and women of McGill on active service during World War II, 295 of which were women. By the end of the war, there were 298 dead, 52 prisoners of war, and 629 recipients of medals. But numbers and statistics do not fully portray the McGill men and women who served.

Source: MUA Photo Collection, Frederick Ernest Wigle, PR010356 Source: War Records Office, Lt.-Col. Frederick Ernest Wigle Killed in Action Source: War Records Office, Letter

In January 1942, with approval from the McGill Board of Governors and the Principal’s Office, the McGill University War Records Office was established to compile a thorough record of the war effort of McGill students and staff, past and present in all branches of armed and civilian war services. Robert Collier Featherstonhaugh (1892-1949), who at the time was an editor of the McGill News, was appointed custodian of the records.

Source: Old McGill, 1941, Raymond Harry Jay Source: McGill News, Winter 1941, Jay (center) Source: War Records Office, PO Jay, Prisoner in Germany

After the First World War, Featherstonhaugh had written histories of various Canadian army units; during the Second World War he edited news columns about the activities of McGill staff and graduates. But the War Records were Featherstonhaugh’s primary preoccupation. In the spring 1942 issue of the McGill News, he expressed his vision for the War Records. He hoped that "McGill may possess war records not surpassed by those of any university in Canada, or, indeed, of any university elsewhere."

Source: Old McGill, 1919, Helen Hague. Source: War Records Office, Captain Helen Hague promotion notice. Source: War Records Office, Helen Hague, appointed to head mistress of St-Helen's School.

The War Records Office papers consist of newspaper clippings, correspondence, and photographs related to the McGill students, graduates and staff who served during World War II; a comprehensive colored card index of names; and lists of honours, awards, prisoners of war, and those killed or missing in action.

Source: War Records Office, Card Information. Source: War Records Office, William Joseph Allison. Source: War Records Office, Charles Needham Allan.

In May 1946 the War Records Office closed and in the same year the University granted Featherstonhaugh the honorary degree of LL.D. In 1947, Featherstonhaugh published McGill University at War 1914-1918; 1939-1945, based on the records he had meticulously acquired and organized during the war years.

Thus, the McGill University War Records Office, more so than numbers and statistics, clearly reveals the faces, personal histories, and stories of sadness and joy of the men and women of the McGill University Contingent, C.O.T.C.

Source: War Records Office, Thomas Roddick Barclay, Distinguished Service Cross. Source: War Records Office, Raymond Gardiner Hatrick, Distinguished Service Cross.




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