Scandalous Conduct by Matthew Barrett


Scandalous Conduct : Canadian Officer Courts Martial, 1914-45 by Matthew Barrett

This book explores the dismissal of Canadian officers during the World Wars for behaviors like drunken disorderliness and adultery. The book reveals how courts-martial stripped officers of commissions, challenging their prestige and highlighting the fluid nature of conduct deemed unbecoming. Essential for scholars of Canadian military history, this study provides insights into the dynamics of honor within the Armed Forces.

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“Scandalous Conduct surveys a wide body of previously unseen evidence on court-martialled officers in the Canadian armed forces. It is a fine piece of scholarship.” – Teresa Iacobelli, author of Death or Deliverance: Canadian Courts-Martial in the Great War

Drunken disorderliness. Cowardice in battle. Writing bad cheques. Vulgarity. Sexual indecency. Adultery. Following courts martial for such disgraceful behaviour, hundreds of Canadian officers lost their commissions during the First and Second World Wars. Scandalous Conduct investigates the changing definitions that shaped the quintessential honour crime known as “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” The dishonour represented a direct challenge to the discredited officer’s prestige, livelihood, and sense of manhood. Drawing on fascinating court cases never before studied, Scandalous Conduct concludes that military honour was not a stable concept; instead it depended on social circumstances and disciplinary requirements.

Matthew Barrett is a military historian and a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian War Museum.

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