Postwar Casualty: Canada's Merchant Navy


154 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-895900-07-7
DDC 940.54'5971






Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein, distinguished research professor emeritus of history
at York University, is the author of Who Killed Canadian History? and
co-author of The Canadian 100: The 100 Most Influential Canadians of the
20th Century and the Dictionary of Canadi


Canada treated its veterans very generously after World War II,
providing money, help with education or starting a business, and
continuing medical care. The merchant mariners, however, received no
benefits at all. Why? Somehow, the government seemed to believe that the
sailors had profited out of the war, avoided military service, and
deserved nothing. No one seemed to care that one in ten had died
pressing convoys across the North Atlantic in the face of the U-boats, a
higher casualty rate than that in the three services. No one seemed to
be concerned that without these men, the war might have been lost.

Postwar Casualty is a capsule account (part memoir and part history) of
the Merchant Navy’s wartime service, but it is primarily a refutation
of the government position. Even the recent belated extension of
benefits to merchant vets, Fraser argues, is full of “weasel
phrases,” and there are hard words for the Legion, which ordinarily
blocks the sailors even from Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Fraser’s case is a good one, and the government should rectify the
situation. His book, however, is no gem. Its prose is wobbly, and its
history sometimes tilted too far to back the case.


Fraser, Doug., “Postwar Casualty: Canada's Merchant Navy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,