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Old 05-09-17, 15:26
Tony Smith's Avatar
Tony Smith Tony Smith is offline
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Default Impressed? Not very!

During WW2 (or at any other time of emergency), what was the procedure when an item or property was "Impressed" for military use? Was the owner give "tough luck" and thanks doing for your bit? Were they given a "Chit" and told they could reclaim their property at the end of hostilities, or were they paid a consideration, and was that at a prescribed value or market value?

The items most commonly associated with this forum would be cars, motorcycles and trucks, usually late model vehicles from the late 30's or early 40's. But there were also more significant assets required such as factories and workshops for small job War Production, or large stately homes and estates used for convalescent hostels. These would be of substantial value, and not something that an owner would b happy to say "Just glad I could help out". In the case of large homes used for convalescent hostels, I cannot think of many that reverted to private ownership post-war, indicating that the title had changed hands, but perhaps the conversion of the building rendered it unsuitable as a family home.

It would seem common sense that the owners of these items were compensated for the loss of their asset, but the sheer volume of vehicles and property acquired would have been an immense strain on Treasury, which leads me to think that they were either valued at below market value, or paid for by delayed means (War Bonds?). Seizure without compensation on a wide scale would have caused an outcry.

This occurred in the majority of nations in the Commonwealth, but the degree varied (ie in Britain the needs would have been more pressing than Canada, and therefore the volume and the cost). I do know that Australia's Federal Constitution has provisions that if the Government needs to claim private property (ie a portion of land for a road), or makes a decision that affects an asset (such as acquiring the usage of a workshop or factory), then the owner is entitled to fair compensation. I would expect that other countries would have similar. But perhaps because of the urgencies of war, and the potential squabbling and haggling over value, as well as the scale of the cost, wartime legislation was passed that over-rode those protections?

I have heard many examples of assets being Impressed, but have never been clear on how the ownership was actually transferred. Any thoughts?
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