Welcome to the Doukhobor World War II Project. Learn about the project to identify and document all men and women of Doukhobor ancestry who served in the Canadian Forces during World War II, the current status of the project, and how you can volunteer to contribute.
What is the Doukhobor World War II Project?
During World War II, most Doukhobors in Canada opposed military service based on their religious pacifist convictions. However, a minority – estimated at one-quarter of all Doukhobor men and women eligible for the draft – discarded their religious and philosophical objections to war and, for a variety of personal reasons, entered active military service. Without glorifying war, or calling into question the faith and convictions of those who served, it is a chapter of our Doukhobor history which deserves to be better documented. It is the intention of this project to compile as complete a list as possible of those men and women of Doukhobor ancestry who enlisted and served in the Canadian Forces during World War II.
Why is this Project Important?
A listing of Doukhobors in the World War II Canadian Forces would be a valuable and important source of information for historical and genealogical studies and research. Unfortunately, World War II personnel files in Canada are restricted from public access by protection of privacy legislation, and are likely to continue to be for decades to come. For the same reason, there is no comprehensive listing of Canadian World War II service men and women that is publicly available. Instead, researchers must rely on a variety of scattered, disparate and fragmentary sources which are often difficult to physically access.
The intention of this project is to make every possible effort to compile a listing of Doukhobors in the World War II Canadian Forces and make it as accurate and complete as possible, using all available research sources. It is acknowledged that such a listing may never be fully complete. However, it is considered important that, despite the likelihood of omissions, those Doukhobor service men and women who can be identified and documented, should be. In doing so, this project will provide greater access to this data by creating a centralized inventory accessible online by researchers all over the world.
How Will the Project be Completed?
To date, the task of the compilation of names has been initiated through a review of: local history books; military cemeteries and memorials, including The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and Veteran Affairs Canada’s website, The Canadian Virtual War Memorial; individual military service grave markers; the Legion Magazine, “Last Post” death notices (online), 2007-1990; the Books of Remembrance website; and honour rolls for some Saskatchewan localities.
Other sources of military service information which require further research include: medal registers; honour rolls for Alberta and British Columbia localities; Legion Magazine, “Last Post” death notices (hardcopy), 1939-1990; local Royal Canadian Legion records; local newspapers for 1939-1945; and voter’s lists for 1941 and 1945 for various localities. It is anticipated that oral tradition will comprise the single largest source of information on Doukhobor service men and women in World War II.
Given its size, scope and nature, the Doukhobor World War II Project is an ongoing “work in progress” based on volunteer support from a wide array of researchers and contributors.
What is the Current Status of the Project?
To date, the project has resulted in a list of 218 Doukhobor service men and women being identified. Among these names are fourteen persons who are confirmed as having died during their war service. For a current listing, see the Doukhobor World War II Index.
How Can I Contribute?
Anyone may propose a person for the list of Doukhobors in the World War II Canadian Forces. If you have information which may be of assistance to this project or know of someone who does, please email project coordinator: Jonathan Kalmakoff.