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Canadian Air Force Wings Variants

By Wayne Logus

There are a surprising number of subtle variations found in the circa 1920 Canadian Air Force (CAF) pilots’ wings.  To the author’s knowledge, a thorough review has never been written on these rare wings. It is hoped that this exploration will provide at least a starting point for discussion.  Over the years, the author has acquired several examples and can offer some comments, based on the ones he owns or has seen.

 Recognition must be given to the previous reflections by Warren Carroll both in his book, Eagles Recalled and an article in the CSMMI (Canadian Society of Military Medals & Insignia).  Readers who knew Warren may recall additional anecdotes or personal information he had on these wings and add their comments.  The following paragraph is mainly derived from his previous observations.

 The history of the CAF insignia is actually pre-dated by the style of the RCNAS (Royal Canadian Naval Air Service) wings and cap badges which were designed and manufactured as early as 1918 in Britain.  It is believed these patterns were later licensed to Canadian Manufacturers (perhaps this is how the Montreal based CAF “CARON BROS” stamped pieces appeared).  It is probable that both the patterns, and in some cases even the dies and pre-existing components, were carried over from the RCNAS to CAF insignia.  This conjecture is confirmed, in part, by the fact that some of the earliest manufactured CAF pilots’ wings and Officer’s cap badges still bare the faint impression of the RCNAS anchor on the reverse.

 With the above in mind, it is interesting to look in detail at the construction of the original CAF pilots’ wings manufactured between 1919 and 1924.  The reader will recall that silver overlays of the wings and the CAF monogram were fastened (in various ways) to the die-stamped copper base which contained the central maple leaf.

Characteristics of the wings:

Front

  1. Pattern of etching on the wings; lines  vs. waves.
    Note: Wavy etching only found usually with die break on lower right wing

    1) examples of line etching in wing

    Notice line etching

    2) examples of wavy etching in wing

    Example of wavy etching

  2. Style and shape of maple leaf; deep etching or shallow etching vein etching; deep etching ⇒ stubby stem. Short and Long Maple Leaf stem variants.
    3) deep etching

    Example of deep etching.

    4) shallow etching

    Example of shallow etching.

    5) Short and Long Maple Leaf stem variants

  3. Style of CAF monogram interior lines; parallel or tangential lines in “C”
    6) examples of horizonal parallel engraving in C of monogram

    Horizontal engraving in C of monogram.

    7) examples of perpendicular line engraving in C of monogram

    Examples of perpendicular line engraving in C of monogram

Reverse

  1. With or without CARONBROS Maker-Mark
  2. Threaded post or pin-back. I suggest that pin-backs can either be original (top image in or possible later, jeweler replacement (lower image).
    8) Threaded post backs

    Threaded posts

    9) pin back versions

    Pin back

  3. Uncommonly, a faint impression of the anchor derived from earlier RCNAS dies. One wonders if the die wasn’t hammered out to remove the deep, sharper indentations found in the earlier RCNAS badges?  It may be appropriate to give the designation of any CAF wing variant which has any impression of the anchor, the designation of “Die 1 (modified)” to indicate the CAF die came from the original RCNAS die.
    10) faint anchor outline

    Faint anchor outline.

    11) very faint anchor

    Very faint anchor outline.

  4. Although not yet reported to my knowledge, one could keep an eye out for Roman numerals etched on the reverse.

In reviewing old photographs, some earlier writers have mentioned that there seems to be photos which show three wing angles to these pilot’s wings.  The author has noticed photos of and reference to wings which have a very steep angle (dip or droop) to the wing portions and Carroll has a photo of one in Eagles Recalled (p 73) held at the Canadian War Museum.  Since the author has not seen one in person, he cannot provide comment on this rare variant.

In an article in the MCCoC Summer Journal, edition 273, 2018, the author reported on how one image of AVM A.E. Godfrey shows a wing which appears to have an intermediate droop associated with it and how this was most likely the result of him wearing a broken wing hence giving the appearance of having an intermediate droop.  It is my experience that about 1/4 to 1/3rd of CAF pilot wings found today have been broken at the structurally weak spot where the wing sections join the Maple Leaf portion of the copper base structure. If repaired, they may not align properly and are sometimes found strengthened across these weak spots by various methods.

12) CAF Godfrey's droop wing, courtesy DHH-DND

CAF Godfrey’s droop wing, courtesy DHH-DND.

All the examples in the author’s collection have wings that are approximately flush with the lowest portion of the maple leaf stem. In some cases, there may be a gap of about 2mm between an imaginary line along the lowest portion of the wings and the base of the stem.  Accordingly, it is proposed that there are really only two major styles of wings; the rare example with the very noticeable droop and the ones discussed here, which are basically flat.  Poor repair jobs can give the appearance of more significant droops.  The two die varieties of the base copper stamp explain the subtleties of most variations.

If the original dies were in fact made in Britain and later licensed or sold to a Canadian Manufacturer, it is possible that some components, such as a CAF monogram, silver wings or even the stamped copper bases, were exchanged as part of the deal so theoretically, one might find complete wings comprised of different or mixed components.

The keen collector will keep an eye out for the earliest CAF wing versions with the wing overlays wired or riveted as opposed to being soldered.

Sources:
1. Carroll, W (1997). Eagles Recalled (pp. 48-51, 71-73) Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
2. Carroll, W (2009). Royal Canadian Air Service – In Search of a Photograph – Part 2 (p1292-1293, 1307). In, CSMI Journal, Fall 2009. Econoprint Inc., St. Catharines Ontario, Canada
3. Logus, W (2018). AVM A.E. Godfrey and the CAF pilot’s wing Droop Enigma (pp.8-14) Military Collectors’ Club of Canada, Edition 273 – Summer Journal 2018

Early Cap Badges of the School of Mounted Infantry

By Anthony Sewards, CD

The School of Mounted Infantry was authorized as of 20th July, 1885 to be stationed at Winnipeg Manitoba at Fort Osborne Barracks, with recruiting starting in September 1885 with GO #21/85, Two companies with Officers, 50 men and 25 horses each, were to be organized as one company for administrative purposes, and the other comprised of a School of Instruction (School Company of Mounted Infantry). As the new unit was classed as mounted infantry the uniform was similar to the ones issued to the Infantry School Corps. A glengarry type (wedge) cap,  a scarlet tunic with blue facings, blue trousers with a red welt (stripe) on each leg, and a red sash for sergeants.

By 1887, the School was re-designated: Royal School of Mounted Infantry on 15 July 1887 by General Order 13/87. The school was issued riding breaches called pantaloons; they were blue with the red welt on the side. A forage cap (pill box) of blue with a yellow band with a small red pompom, and the white Foreign Service helmet, made of cork with a star pattern front badge with “Mounted Infantry” on the ribband /garter, with a right facing beaver in the centre with red cloth backing. The Royal School of Mounted Infantry was re-designated again as the Royal School of Instruction 7 August 1891 by General Order 15/91.

On the 1887 Field Service Cap and Forage Cap were badges of the School that were of a bullion monogram type of badge, Company of Mounted Infantry. (CMI)

MI2

     Company of Mounted Infantry Badge ( line drawing taken from photo)

MI3

Helmet plate as used for the issued Foreign Service  helmet.

 

MI4

Officer’s Glengary Badge , Gilt and silver (Author’s Collection)

According to GO No.103, 1st July 1901, a Permanent Force unit of mounted rifles were to be formed in Winnipeg, formed as A Squadron, Canadian Mounted Rifles. The new badge with an Edwardian (ERI) cypher surmounted by a Tudor Crown, with a smaller version used as collar dogs, with a mounted rifle “MR” used as shoulder titles. The trousers and riding breeches now had the red welt replaced by the thick yellow stripe in 1903, as dress regulations changed for units of the Permanent Force units. Originally, riding breeches were quite snug to the leg, but in 1900, a fuller leg was authorized, with yellow being the standard military colour used by Calvary troops.

MI5.jpg

School CMR Cap,Collar and Shoulder Titles all Scully Marked. (Author’s Collection)

 

In GO # 412, dated 22 December 1903, permission was granted for the prefix “Royal” to be added to the cap badge and now to be known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles “RCMR”. The unit started to use the King Edward cypher with a banner underneath with “Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles”. Also, a regular Royal Cypher type badge with a pin fastener was used on the Foreign Service helmet.

 

mi7

RCMR Collection, LdSH (RC) Regimental Museum Collection. Photo: Mr Grant Dyck

 

mi8

Cap badge Puragree style ( pin fastener) ,Collar dogs and Shoulder Title all Scully Marked. (Author’s Collection) 

In September 1909, Lord Strathcona and Colonel Sam Steele inspected the RCMR at Osborne Barracks, and following that inspection it was asked if they would like to adopt a change in title to “ Strathcona’s Horse” to perpetuate the famous name “Strathcona’s Horse” in the Canadian Permanent Active Militia. And it was granted in GO #111, October 9th, 1909.

 

And that is for another story……..

——
References:

Cunniffe, R. Uniforms and Insignia of the Regiment, sections 3 , Badges, Insignia and Buttons of the Regiment. 1982.

Cunniffe, R. Story of a Regiment, manuscript 1962, printed 1995.

Brooker, C. Badges of the Canadian Army 1920 to Unification, pg 116,120,121 , Volume # 3, 2013 and CEF online files Part 3 Cavalry, source Canadiansoldiers.ca

Mazeas,D. Canadian Militia Cap Badges Pre 1914, pg 30/31. 1990

Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental manual.

 

Canadian Air Force Cap Badge Variations

This article was first published in the Military Collector’s Club of Canada Journal, Edition 271, Winter 2017 pp 11-20, it has been re-published here unedited.

By Wayne Logus

I should start by saying I feel the 1920-‘24 era CAF badges represent one of the most beautiful sets ever made in Canada; a sentiment that has been expressed by others.  Despite the design flaw with some of the items in this series which can lead to premature breaking at high stress points (the junction of the Crown in this case) the detail, balance, shape and choice of materials (silver, copper, brass and silk) combine to produce an aesthetically stunning example of the medallist’s art.

I have observed there are two major variations of the CAF badge with the free floating crown for the forage (peaked cap), with motto and either referred to as the “2nd issue” (with motto) or “Type 2”.  The changes are small and subtle which perhaps explains why differences haven’t generally been reported before now.  Since neither show evidence of having a Maker’s Mark, it is difficult to definitively associate a specific manufacturer to each of these examples.  It is possible that there was more than one maker but it is also possible that a single maker simply used two die sets.  It is known that Caron Bros made some of the pilot wings in this series and that Scully did the buttons for the CAF uniform.

In my experience, the second image with the darker brass/copper maple leaf is more common.  As this article will attempt to explain, virtually every component of these two varieties is made from different dies.  To this end, I will arbitrarily define the smaller of the two as “Version 1”.  The reason is that I have an early, Type 1 without-motto version that has the same die pattern on the wings and maple leaf and I conclude is struck from the same die albeit of different materials.  The Crowns vary but they were made and attached separately.  There is also a different dome shape to the two types (with and without motto).

It is difficult to photograph the badges in this series, especially when the silver has recently been cleaned and is highly reflective.  The two examples shown here appear to vary significantly in their finish but that is due to the fact the second has been recently cleaned and the 1st has light surface oxidation.  To the naked eye, they aren’t actually that different.  After many years, an untouched example will eventually and naturally tarnish to a dark dull grey due to oxygen and/or sulphur but this can be restored without loss of the silver, if the correct cleaning procedures are employed.

caf1Two varieties of the 2n issue (with motto) CAF Officer’s 1920-24 cap badge for the peaked cap. The rare and possibly earlier variation 1 is on the left and variation 2 on the right.


Maple Leaf

A stamped central copper or brass maple leaf, motto and wings represent the main, one-piece base component of this badge.  Silver wings and motto overlay the base.  The crown is made separately and consists of a red silk material sandwiched between the base copper and matching silver overlay During construction, it is fastened to the remaining badge and generally found with a brass/bronze support bar for strengthening.

Perhaps the most obvious and distinguishing aspect of the two cap badges presented is this article is brass/copper maple leaf.  The brass base in Version 2 is either stamped from a brass composition or it is a pickled copper.  Variation 1 shows a much more natural, brighter copper finish.

The outline and engraved pattern of the veins in the leaves is different.  In the blow-up picture, note the number and shape of the points at the top of the copper crown.  The location of the maple leaf stem on the banner might be the key in distinguishing the two variations from a distance or in a fuzzy photo.  Version 2 joins at the bottom of the banner whereas Version 1 connects at the top

CAF2Compare the colour, number of points and detail of the vein tooling in the two dies. Version 1 is on the bottom.

Size

The size alone indicates there must be two die variants in this badge and that the differences aren’t simply due to worn, modified or repaired dies.

Description Height (mm)* Width (at motto) (mm)*
Version 1 67 58
Version 2 71† 61

* ± 1 mm.

† In his book, Eagles Recalled, Warren Carroll refers to the height of his similar badge as 72mm but some minor differences can be expected during assembly

Crown

Even to the eye, they look different but descriptively, here are some of the details of these variations:

  • The detail in the tooling of the horizontal line pattern at the very base of the crown differs
  • The number of jewels in the central, vertical portion of the crown are different; 4 ½ on the 1st version and 6 on the 2nd.
  • The widths of the crowns also differ; 21.7mm and 22.9mm respectively.
CAF3

Note the differences in shape, number of jewels and crown base detail. Variation 1 on left

Shape

The 2nd example has a pronounced curve to the badge compared to the first.  This is most noticeable on the maple leaf and CAF monogram.  See the side view photo.

CAF4Compare the curved dome shape of both the maple leaf and monogram on the two examples (Variation 1 on the left).

CAF Monogram Overlay

In comparing the central portion of two badges, the first thing one observes is the increased curve or dome shape.  This is probably, in part responsible for the difference in the measured heights of the two “CAF” monograms 18.0 mm for Version 1 and 19.5 mm for the 2nd version.

Moto

The motto, “SIC ITUR AD ASTRA” was added to the insignia in late 1920, creating what is commonly referred to as “Type 2” to identify this series of CAF insignia for the 1920 to 1924 period.  The motto is also found on the smaller field-cap badge and collars for both the Officers and enlisted men.

In addition to the different in the overall width of motto, the following aspects of the two designs are noted:

  • The lettering is slightly different and raised more on the 1st version.
  • The background mottling has a different pattern (high resolution is need to see this in detail).
  • The shape of the ribbon banner is different; see the area above “SIC” in the attached.
  • The thickness of the banners is significantly different too, about 10% less in Version 1.
CAF51st version on the left, note the sharper detail, greater letter height and the higher arch in the ribbon above the “S”.

Wings

I will admit, the dies on the silver wing overlays are very similar indeed.  However, one notes a different number of veins in some of the feathers (left side, 2nd row) and a difference in the height of the two tallest feathers (photos)

CAF7

In the 1st version, the points of the feathers are more pronounced (lower image).

CAF8It require a bit of imagination to see the difference in the tooling of the veins of the two wings. The little dots at the tip of the feathers only appear on variation 2 (top).

It is interesting to note that the wings of the first variation, to my eye, are identical to the wing dies most commonly found on the 72mm, peaked cap NCO version of this badge.  I have yet to come across a die variation of the enlisted version of the 72mm badge.

Additional

Another most interesting observation and one I believe to be new to the literature and fellow collectors is in a very minor detail in the obverse of the copper stamping of my 2nd variation.  I actually didn’t notice this until I was looking at high resolution photographic images.  Along the area of the motto strip, there are some very light marks.

CAF9

Initially, I had assumed there were random scratches (see arrow in photo) in the base but on closer inspection, I believe these are actually Roman Numerals about 3mm in height, carved into the soft copper.  I propose this is some reference mark from the original craftsman.  The marks don’t immediately stand out in my example as overtop, is another, smaller scratching.  These are purposefully done as there is a small mound of copper at the base of each scratch indicating consistency in the direction the lines were etched.

CAF10Small marks cut into the copper base in the motto area of the 2nd variation of the CAF peaked cap badge.

I believe the underlying letters are, either “XXI” or “XXII” (part of one scratch-line overlaps) and the smaller overlay is “W”.  Interestingly, the “W” is also scratched into the brass support for the Crown; again something one could mistake for random scratches (see image).  One might speculate that at some point, the badge was repaired and, like a watchmaker, the jeweler added his mark to indicate the repair.  I have also seen a clear “W” mark on the back of another enlisted badge for the peak cap further adding to the proposal it has been intentionally made.

CAF11

A similar “W” in the brass support as also etched into the base copper/brass motto

The 1st variety discussed in this article had no such marks.

I have a photograph of badge of this type held by another collector with similar markings but a very clear “XXIV” scratched in.  I’m sure neither of us noticed it at the time I took the photo many years ago.

Two possibilities come to mind;

  1. The Roman numerals refer to the year of manufacture, i.e., 1921 (or 1922), or
  2. Each of these extraordinary fine quality badges were numbered individually in a similar, Roman numeral style as found in the RCNAS badges.

Recently, another example of this badge was sold at auction and based on the marking on the reverse of that example; the argument for individual numbering of each badge is given the more likely scenario.  This photo appears to illustrate the Roman numeral, VIII.  Due to space limitations, the engraver separated the “V” from the “III” in the central portion of the motto.

CAF12

So, my fellow collectors go to your stash of early CAF Officers (Type 2) peaked hat badges and check to see if you can detect any Roman numerals scratched onto the back – or the brass support bar.  Kindly take pictures and drop a line to the Journal or contact me directly: zorgon@telus.net.  Together, we should be able to determine if these marks are date or sequence marks.

Early Cap Badges of the Strathcona’s Horse

By Anthony Sewards, CD

The Strathcona’s Horse was formally authorized under Militia Order Number 26/00 1 February 1900; as “Strathcona’s Horse.” The Strathcona’s embarked for South Africa on 16 March 1900, on the Elder Dempster Liner, H.M. Transport “Monterey”. There the unit fought as part of the 3rd Mounted Brigade and 4th Infantry Brigade, II Division, until its departure from the theatre of operations on 20 January 1901. Upon its return to Canada on 9 March 1901, Strathcona’s Horse was disbanded in Halifax.

The cap and collar badges that were issued to the unit were based on the personal crest and coat of arms Sir Donald A. Smith, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, which he had adopted from those of the North West and Hudson Bay Companies.

S T R A T H C O N A’ S H O R S E
Regimental Order
-0-0-0-0-0

S.S. Monterey, 5th April 1900

By Lt. Col. Steele, Commanding, Troops on Board

R.O. 262 – 05-04-1900

The Q-master will issue at once the letters “S H” for the shoulder straps and the badges for the collars and service caps.

The letters “S H” will be placed on each shoulder strap, One (1) inch above the seam and three-eights ( 3/8 ) inch apart.

The badges will be placed on service caps three (3) inches from front seam and one (1) inch above the seam on the left side.

The badges on collar of Rifle Green Serge, one (1) inch from the edge of collar on either side.

ldsh1

Arms of Donald Alexander Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona, c. 1900.

“Lord Strathcona’s Coat of Arms being a shield with a demi lion rampant is the Red Lion of Scotland, Lord Strathcona’s native land. The railroad spike and hammer represent his connection with the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and records the fact that he drove the last spike signifying the completion of this cross country railroad on 7 November 1885. The canoe bearing the flag with “NW” on it shows his connection with the development of the northwest and the North West Company. The crown (baron’s cornet) surmounting the badge signifies that the Regiment is a “Royal” regiment; an honour granted the Regiment by the sovereign, General Order 153/1903, October 1903.

There are two versions of the cap badge, one in “Gilt” for officers and one in bronze for the non commissioned officers. The pair of issued collar dogs were of bronze and manufactured by WS Scully.

ldsh2

Officer’s issued badge in Gilt.

ldsh3

Non Commissioned Officer’s badge in Bronze.

ldsh4

Officer’s issued cap and collar badges.

Shoulder titles were made of brass, and issued to the troops, in the form of a brass “S & H “, there was also a brass shoulder title with “Strathcona’s Horse” in an oval pattern. Some were having been noted as being made on route to South Africa of various styles of “S & H”.

ldsh5

ldsh6

The SH in the picture is 1 inch by 7/8 inch.
Courtesy Museum Of the Regiments, Calgary, AB

ldsh7

The Strathcona’s Horse oval badge is 1 1/2 inch by 2 inches.
Image courtesy of Capt. M. W. Clare, CD, (Retired) Collection, Calgary, AB

 

 

References:

Cunniffe, R. Uniforms and Insignia of the Regiment, sections 3 , Badges, Insignia and Buttons of the Regiment. 1982.

Cunniffe, R. The Story of a Regiment: Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). Calgary: Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), 1995.

Department of Militia and Defence. Strathcona’s Horse in the South African War 1899-1902. Sessional Paper No. 35a. Ottawa: S.E. Dawson, 1901.

Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental manual.

 

Early Rank of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps

by Clive M. Law

The Canadian Women’s Army Corps ( CWAC) was formed in August 1941as a ‘hostilities only’ organization to perform the duties of fit and able men in garrisons, headquarters, supply depots and other similar settings, thereby releasing these men for service overseas.

In 1941, initial planning considered that some 5400 would be sufficient for the jobs identified. By the end of the war, some 21,624 women had served in the Corps, with more than 3,000 in Great Britain and the various theatres of war. In May 1945, the Corps made up 2.8 % of the total complement of the Canadian Army.

When the winds of war began to blow across Europe beginning in 1938, women’s volunteer organizations began to form in nearly every province of Canada to prepare women to serve their country if called. They designed uniforms to wear with a decidedly military cut.[i] In some Military Districts after the outbreak of war some District Officers Commanding (DOC) actually took up the offer of these volunteer organizations to assist in various tasks due to the increase in work cause by the war.

In February 1941, a joint committee of the volunteer organizations presented a brief which proposed the formation of a Corps to be called the Canadian Women’s Service (CWS). The Adjutant General of the Army, responsible for all personnel matters, despite his antipathy towards recruiting women, realized that there was a need and circulated a staff paper proposing the formation of a corps under military control. Employment would be limited to headquarters, hospitals and similar establishments but later could allow for employment overseas. On 2 May 1941, the Defence Council reported that “the Cabinet had acquiesced to the employment of women in such posts as might be considered suitable”. In June 1941 the Minister told the Generals they were to proceed with the recruiting and employment of women in the Army. Primary areas of work were in training centres, headquarters, the Army Service Corps as drivers and mechanics and in the Ordnance Corps in stock accounting, warehousing, and repair. It was estimated that 5,398 women might be so employed.

On 20 June 1941, the Minister of National Defence issued a press statement announcing the service of women in a military role during the current war. Recruitment was to be through the National War Service Manpower Mobilization Service from women registered with it. 17 July, the Minister announced that the first appointment would be the Matron-In-Chief of the Army Medical Corps, Elizabeth Smellie, to oversee the organization of the Corps.

CWAC

The CWAC initially was to be separate from the Canadian Army but organized on a military basis and under military control and supervision. Officer rank titles were modeled on the British ATS. Rank insignia consisted of a combination of silver beavers and maple leaves, the beavers were equivalent to the Army crown and the maple leaf to the star or ‘pip’.

Army Rank Insignia          CWAC Rank                 Insignia
Second Lieutenant One star Junior Subaltern One Leaf
Lieutenant Two Stars Subaltern Two Leaves
Captain Three Stars Junior Commander Three Leaves
Major One Crown Senior Commander One Beaver
Lieutenant Colonel One Crown plus one star Chief Commander One Beaver plus one Leaf
Colonel One Crown plus Two Stars Honorary Commander One Beaver plus two Leaves

cwac1

Non-Commissioned Officers wore the standard Army rank badges but with a chocolate-brown coloured backing called beechnut brown. The ranks, in descending order, were Warrant Officer Class I (WO I), Warrant Officer Class II (WO II), Staff Sergeant, Sergeant, Corporal and the appointment of Lance Corporal. NOTE: the appointment of Lance Corporal was relinquished when the person was posted to another unit as it was an appointment within that unit while the confirmed rank was Private. This was in accordance with Army policy.

[i].          ”MILITARY ARTIFACT”, Issue No. 3, Mk IV.

With thanks to Sylvain Blais and Renald Poulin for images.

Canadian Helmet Flashes of the Second World War – Recognition Guide

Richard J.S. Law

Although this recognition guide is not exhaustive it should provide historians and collectors assistance in identifying Canadian helmet flashes from the Second World War. While the majority of these flashes were produced by Gale and Polden Ltd of the UK, some flashes were hand painted and potentially sought locally. It should be noted that the colours depicted below are not completely accurate and are an artistic interpretation based on various source files from the era, some slight deviation may occur.

flashes1

flashes2flashes3flashes4
flashes5

Bibliography:

LAC RG-24 Vol 10052

MilArt Archives

With thanks to Greg Nehring, Michael Dorosh, Roy Akins, Constant Perreault, and Bill Alexander for image contributions.

Stable Belts of The Royal Canadian Regiment

Richard J.S. Law

stableblet oleary

A group picture, believed to date from the 1930’s, depicting a Regimental stable belt worn by the fourth man in the rear row. Image courtesy Michael O’Leary.

Although the first mention of Regimental stable belts only appears in the Regimental Standing Orders of 1960, photographic evidence supports that they were worn as early as the inter-war period.

stablebelt1

The RCR sailing to Korea. Left to right (front row), Stanley (Buddy) Ward, Robert (Bob) Turner and Harold Mitton. (© C. MacKinnon collection) courtesy http://heritage.tantramar.com/wfnewsletter_53.html

Believed to have originated from British cavalry units, the stable belts are rumored to have started as modified horse surcingles which unit tailors would customize for cavalrymen. The design, consisting of a wide canvas or soft leather belt completed with two buckles, was somewhat common in the 1910’s and many soldiers throughout the Commonwealth purchased these belts to wear with trousers. It is believed that the adoption of Regimentally coloured belts also began around this time.

stablebelt1a

MGen Spry (right) visiting the Sgt’s Mess in Jamaica, circa 1971. The Connecting File 1971.

Anecdotal commentary suggests that the Regimental stable belt was worn in Fort York, Germany it was sometimes worn with the bush pants in the 1950’s and 1960’s as well as with the wool sweater as garrison dress by 1 RCR.

As previously mentioned, the Regimental stable belts only appears in the 1960 Regimental standing Orders which state “The Regimental belt may be worn for Physical Training and sports events. The belt will be made of canvas material with tan leather buckles and straps. It will be secured with two short leather tabs through two silver buckles. The belt will be 2 ½ inches in width, coloured as follows: One 1” band of black on the bottom of the belt with a ½” band of amber and a 1” band of royal blue. The belt will have a silver D to shorten or lengthen the belt. The inside of the belt will be white.”

stable belt cropped

The stable belt described in the 1960 Regimental Standing Orders. Author’s collection.

In the past months there has a been a resurgence of interest in Regimental stable belts and the author began producing them as a hobby. These modern versions should not be confused with the original belts described above. These modern belts measure 2 inches compared to the 2 ½ inches, and both sides of the webbing are coloured.

Addendum: Although the Regimental Standing Orders describe the belt as 2.5″ wide, all examples encountered measured 2.25″, additionally, the webbing is elastic rather than canvas.

 

Sources:

Regimental Standing Order of The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1960, para 201.03 Belts (2).

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