The Unwanted is the personal memoir of John McKendrick Hughes, a Canadian farmer (who also happened to be an Major in the local militia) who joined the army in 1915. Upon his arrival in England in the fall of 1916, John discovered that the BritishMoreThe Unwanted is the personal memoir of John McKendrick Hughes, a Canadian farmer (who also happened to be an Major in the local militia) who joined the army in 1915.
Upon his arrival in England in the fall of 1916, John discovered that the British Army did not want Canadian militia officers, whom they considered to be rank amateurs. Unwanted by the British Army but not allowed by the Canadian government to return home, John determined to serve his country in any way he could. He did this by becoming an Agricultural Officer for the British 2nd Army — one of many unwanted Canadian officers who served in ways they could not have imagined when they enlisted.
Working at Army Headquarters, John rubbed shoulders on a daily basis with dozens of high-ranking officers, many of whom were members of the British upper-class. As an outsider, he was able to see them simply as men, not as lords, dukes, and earls, yet, by virtue of his HQ posting and his own skills as a farmer and organizer, he was often treated as an insider, one of the club.
The work John was doing — raising food for the Army immediately behind the front lines — was new to everyone involved. There were no regulations detailing how it was to be done, and he often had to improvise as he went along, breaking the rules that applied to other military operations, aided and abetted by his commanding officers, who often made sure he didn’t know the rules!
After the war, John was seconded to the Armistice Commission and posted to Cologne, Germany, where he inspected agricultural equipment and enjoyed a season of opera. He returned to Canada in 1919.