I have a nice repro of a Militia Book M1 for my Algonquin Regiment impression but am wondering about the French equivalent. Was it just a Militi Book M1 written in French or a different piece of paperwork altogether?
There were French language paybooks made, but they are not found often today. I am afraid I do not have a photo of one, but I have seen an example of one at the shows. There was a Canadian made French language paybook that was wrapped with later dated British made ones in English for when the veteran was overseas. I am afraid I do not have the details of the booklet to show, but I can say with confidence that Canada printed French language paybooks for French-Canadians.
I haven't seen a lot of discussion of the use of French during the Second World War, but ISTM that Granatstein talked at least a bit about it in some of his writing. My understanding is that there was a real attempt to engage the francophone population, to the extent that official manuals were translated into French. Not all of them, perhaps, but many.
The practice of dual-language manuals as we see them today was not standard until French and English were made the "official languages" - I stand to be corrected here - which I think was one of the Trudeau policies.
But the attempt to engage the francophones went beyond just manuals. Granatstein's book THE GENERALS talked about the attempt to create, for example, an entire French-speaking brigade in one of the overseas divisions, a movement scuppered by the lack of French-speaking staff officers (again, IIRC) and officers with senior command experience. The French-Canadian battalions were split up among the various brigades. As is well known, 5 Brigade was originally to be an all-Quebec brigade (to include the anglo Royal Highlanders from Montreal). Deployments to Iceland and Newfoundland changed up the scheduling, and also the francophone "problem", I believe, caused the Calgary Highlanders to be shifted to this brigade instead.
Terry Copp has written a little on the subject also. I admit to not reading nearly as much on this as I would like, and am not sure what is available in the military journals, etc. but suspect there is much more that could be done - in English - on the subject of the experience of the French-Canadian soldier in the Second World War.
If anyone has any suggestions for further reading on the subject (again, in English), I'd find them most welcome.
Michael, I'm the same. I'd love to read more about the French Canadian contribution in Normandy particularly, if only to get an idea of thoughts and motivations when compared to their English Canadian counterparts.
I would to go back and read the section in Robertson's book on Dieppe where he states that a French Canadian units was, at the outbreak of war, the second fastest recruiting regiment of the Militia. Not sure how true that is but it does raise some interesting questions.