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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).

Filling the Ranks: The 87th Battalion Blues

Filling the Ranks: The 87th Battalion Blues

By Bill Alexander

After the initial surge of patriotic fever swelled the ranks of the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, the losses and horrors of war experienced at Ypres stunned Canadian communities. Enlistments fell off over the next months. New battalions forming for service overseas found it increasingly difficult to fill the ranks, and resorted a wide range of strategies to entice attestations. In Montreal, competition for soldiers between several new battalions made recruiting even more difficult. Over the late summer and early fall of 1915, one battalion, the 87th Canadian Grenadier Guards approached the problem with a unique solution.

gg canada metal title

The Canadian Grenadier Guards, the parent unit of the 87th, prided themselves on being a sister regiment to the imperial Grenadier Guards. Dress and deportment had always been important to Guard’s regiments, a practice not lost on the Canadian Grenadier Guards. To distinguish their overseas battalion, the 87th, unique insignia was requested. The Battalion desired a cap badge of the same design as worn by the militia regiment, and for the shoulder insignia, instead of the CEF mandated battalion numeral, 87, over INF, the CGG wished their battalion to wear their metal shoulder title reading GG/CANADA.  To further set them apart and assist in recruiting, it was requested that “the 87th Overseas Battalion be allowed to wear blue shoulder straps in place of khaki ones”. The Officer Commanding, Lt. Col. F.S. Meighen argued that with “Recruiting becoming increasingly difficult, … any little distinction such as above is a help, especially to (sic) battalions which are recruiting in districts where Highland battalions with their special uniform are also recruiting”. Second, “the men of the 1st Canadian Division were very proud of their coloured shoulder straps, which served to distinguish Canadians at once from Territorials or Kitchener’s army.” At an undated meeting with the Quartermaster General in September, Meighen secured approval for all the 87th’s insignia requests. Or, so, he believed.

Almost immediately the acquisition became complicated. The Department of Militia would only provide standard tunics, unaltered, with the khaki shoulder straps. The acquisition of the blue shoulder straps and the alteration of the tunics would be the Battalion’s responsibility, with some compensation extended. On the positive side, the badges were authorized and costs would be reimbursed. Anticipating the dress modifications, the Battalion publicised their new uniforms in hope of enhancing recruiting.

87th bn blue shoulder straps

A Montreal Gazette article featuring the distinction came to the attention of Maj. Gen. W.G. Gwatkin, Chief of the General Staff, Canadian militia. In a memo on 21 October 1915, he strenuously disagreed with the approval indicating the same to the Quartermaster General. Unfortunately, in his opinion, protocol had not been followed, and the Governor General, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, the King’s representative in Canada, had not been consulted. Gwatkin indicated “I do not think that the Duke will like the blue shoulder strap”. He continued, “you ought to have to have approached His Royal Highness before you proposed “G.G. CANADA”.  The same day, a letter from Montreal indicated the Battalion, with the understanding they had approval, and that compensation was forthcoming, had proceeded with acquisitions of both the blue shoulder straps and the shoulder titles.

87th bn blue should rev

In a meeting of the Militia Council on 23 October 1915, Gwatkin pushed for a re-consideration of the blue shoulder straps. The Council rescinded the approval, and a letter was sent indicating the “blue shoulder straps for this unit would not be approved and these straps will have to be removed from the jackets.” The design for the badges, other than those supplied by the Dept., must be submitted for approval, and must contain “87” and “Overseas”.  The 87th Battalion was not prepared to give up. Lt. Col. Meighen, having been indirectly informed of the reversal, and with the misunderstanding that it had been instigated by H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught, wrote the Quartermaster General, arguing for the retention of the blue shoulder straps. Indicating that the tunics with the blue boards would be in service until worn out, as had happened with the First Contingent, he noted that in the course of time, they would no longer be on issue. As the 87th uniforms had already been fitted with the blue straps, it would be considerable expense to alter them again. In addition, the hit to Battalion pride would be considerable, and a negative effect on recruiting would likely ensue. His protests had little effect; the blue shoulder straps were to be withdrawn.

gg canada bluept

The issue of compensation remained. Originally approved by the Dept. of Militia, it was only appropriate that payment for the straps be made. As no government issue badges, (the general list maple leaf cap, collars, Battalion numerals, INF, and CANADA), were to be issued to the 87th, the Battalion requested payment in lieu, which would then be applied to the cost of the Battalion badges. Included in the consideration, supposedly, would be reimbursement for the now unauthorized blue shoulder boards. In early January of 1916, a hastener was sent to the Quartermaster General, requesting the reimbursement. It was indicated the payment had been sent. Upon examination, it was found that a payout had been made the previous November for badges, but not for the shoulder boards. A requisition for compensation for 1111 pairs of shoulder straps at 15c per pair, in the sum of $116.65 was submitted. Finally, in early February, the Quartermaster General authorized the pay out to the 87th Battalion. The Battalion would proceed overseas, in drab khaki tunics, with drab khaki shoulder straps, but wearing their Canadian Grenadier Guards badges. [i]

 

 

[i] Library and Archives Canada Record Group 24, Volume 1539, File 638-132-1 Badges 87th Battalion, and Record Group 9, III, D1 Vol. 4689 File 4-C-87-2 87th Battalion Regimental Badges.

“T” is for Tunneller

by Bill Alexander

 

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The diagrams for No.2 and No.3 Tunnelling Companies. Source LAC.

During the First World War, many tactical innovations were developed to break the stalemate created by trench warfare. Mining, by tunnelling under the enemy trenches, placing and detonating charges was a technique adopted by both sides in France and Flanders. In the British Expeditionary Force, dedicated tunnelling companies were formed by the Royal Engineers and the engineers from the Dominions and colonies. Tunnelling Companies were responsible for tunnelling, mining, and counter mining activities, including removal of enemy mines and booby traps, as well as other regular engineering jobs as required. Canada, a nation rich in mining operations, was a source of experienced miners and quickly recruited four companies. Organized in 1916, the Canadian Engineer’s companies’ strength was initially 14 officers and 225 other ranks; this would grow to 19 officers and 550 other ranks by 1918.  Three companies were sent to the western front under command of the imperial Controller of Mines (Army). The fourth company was converted to a depot and supplied personnel to the other three.  The first three companies were deployed to the front, but as BEF assets and not under command of the Canadian Corps.

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A Sergeant of No.3 Tunneling Company wearing the insignia of the sleeve.

 

When the British army and Canadian Corps began adopting battle signs for wear on the uniform,  No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 Tunnelling Companies CE were operating in France and Flanders. These patches of coloured or embroidered cloth were worn on the back or sleeves of the tunic and were introduced to facilitate identification. This practice was extended to the Canadian tunnelling companies who used the simple profile of the letter “T” for the design. Each company designed a unique “T”, differing in construction, colour and size.  No 1 Tunnelling Company wore a red rectangular patch with the “T” shape cut out and a piece of black material placed behind. It has also been suggested the “T” shape in black was applied to a red backing.  The Acting O.C. No. 1 Coy reported the patch was adopted with the approval of Xth Army Corps on July 2, 1917.[i]

no 1 tunnelling coy sample

No. 1 Tunnelling Company Sample, courtesy LAC.

No. 2 Coy wore a red “T”, 3 inches high by 2 inches wide.  Capt. F.A. Brewster reported the badge had first been worn 7 June 1917 when assisting in the operations of 23rd Division. Authority had been given by the GOC of the 23rd but only for that operation. No. 2 Coy had applied to the Controller of Mines, 4th Army for permanent authority. [ii] No. 3 Coy sent examples of their patches to the Canadian Historical Section in March of 1918. The submission noted the authority was Fourth Army HQ, No/ 21/24 dated 1/3/1918. A diagram of the insignia worn during the war was submitted to the Historical Section in 1928. Image evidence shows the “T” patches in wear on the sleeves of the uniform.

Capt_Alex_Young 3 tun coy

Capt Alex Young, No. 3 Tunnel Company. Courtesy of S. St Amant.

In the early 1918 re-organization of the Canadian Corps, No. 1 and No. 2 Tunnelling Coys were absorbed into the divisional engineering brigades. The insignia for the first two companies was redundant and removed. No. 3 Tunnelling Coy continued as an army troop asset, wearing the tunnellers’ “T” until the end of the war.

tunneller tees no 1 coy no 2 coy

Tunnellers T’s showing No. 1 Tunnelling Company with red backing and without, and No. 2 Tunnelling Company, courtesy of the author’s collection.

 

[i] LAC RG 9 III DI Vol. 4711 Historical Section File 5-D-1-2. No. 1 Tunnelling Coy Regimental Badges.

[ii] LAC RG 9 III DI Vol. 4711, Historical Section File 5-D-2-1. No. 2 Tunnelling Coy Regimental Badges.

A Crowning Tradition – RCR Field Officer’s Rank Badges

By Richard J.S. Law

For the better part of The Royal Canadian Regiment’s first decades it sought to maintain its identity and affiliation to Queen Victoria, the reigning monarch at the time of the Regiment’s designation as a Royal regiment. As a result of her death, the Regiment’s badges were often a point of contention with higher headquarters and the heraldic authority in England whether the retention of the VRI and a Victorian crown, or rather St Edward’s crown, was appropriate. Although the matter was first born upon her passing in 1901, it continued to be battled until 1919 when King George V granted The Regiment the privilege of wearing the VRI in perpetuity; however, the matter of a “proper” depiction of a Victorian crown continued to be debated well into the Cold War era.

Between 1901 and 1919 the Regiment’s badges changed to have King Edward VII and King George V cypher’s centrally located on the cap badge and buttons, both of which depicted a Tudor crown. Although these were produced and worn, anecdotal and photographic evidence supports that the Regiment stubbornly wore the VRI unofficially throughout the period.

medland

Major Bill Medland DSO wearing the St Edward’s Crown rank badge. Image courtesy of MilArt Archives.

Once authority was granted to retain the VRI in perpetuity, the Regiment sought to have a proper crown replace the Tudor crown. Between 1926 and 1927 it was noted that the original crown used on badges as of 1894 was in fact a Hanoverian type crown which was not British at all and dated to King William IV. From this, the Regiment adopted what was believed to be a St Edward’s crown. The Government produced one type while the Regiment produced a different badge which bore a St Edward’s crown closely resembling the one currently found on the regimental badges. It should be noted that the St Edward’s crown was the coronation crown and only used during the coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey, Sovereigns would then replace it with their own State crown using the stones from their predecessor’s State crown.

crown rank

The rank badge in question, worn by Field Officers.

This pattern of crown was subsequently adopted without authority as a rank badge for field officers in the early post-Second World War time-frame. This Regimental quirk was noticed in 1949 at which point The Regiment was asked to substantiate their use of a non-approved badge. In October of 1949 The Regiment argued that the 1927 authority from NDHQ to change the crown on the cap badge and buttons also implied all other badges worn and that “the privilege of wearing this type of crown is now part of the established tradition of the (sic) Royal Canadian Regiment”. Additionally, it was mentioned that there would be no financial impact to the Crown as officers purchased their own accoutrements directly from the mess. With that, the Judge Advocate General, the Quartermaster General, the Adjutant General, the Chief of the General Staff, and the Minister of National Defense all signed their support to amend CAO 84-1 “to permit the Royal Canadian Regiment to wear a special type of crown for their badges of rank” with an effective date of 5 December 1949.

As the badge did not exist in Canadian stock, the Quartermaster General requested the Officer Commanding the Regiment to supply a sample in July of the same year. The badge was described as measuring 15/16-inch-wide by 1 1/16-inch in height and further differences noted as: “The RCR crown is not pierced and no crimson velvet is therefore worn.”

rank

Plate No. 6 from the 1960 RCR Regimental Standing Orders, note the St Edward’s Crown rank badge in the upper left corner.

This badge was worn on all orders of dress less mess dress and on shoulder cords with full dress or undress blues. They were worn until the unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968 at which point stars and crowns were replaced by bar-type ranks. With the re-introduction of the Canadian Army’s identity in 2014, The RCR had discussed potentially returning to a traditional crown as many units were offered the opportunity to return to some of their traditions. However, due to a lack of source documentation the Regimental Executive Committee opted to retain the CAF issued crown supplied by Logistik Unicorp.

Sources:
1960 Regimental Standing Orders, Chapter 6

LAC R112 Vol 29711 – File Cover 5250-0603/R1 Dress Instructions Royal Canadian Regiment

HQ 1730-603/R1 Vol 3 – RCR Field Officer’s Badge of Rank, St. Edward’s Crown, 23 Jan 53

Memorandum, Headquarters Central Command, Officers Rank Badge – The Royal Canadian Regiment, 30 Nov 49

1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA

by Mark W. Tonner

At the beginning of August 1944, the left (coastal) flank of First Canadian Army was held by the British 6th Airborne Division (of which, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was a part), whose divisional artillery consisted of one airlanding light field regiment (53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery) equipped with 24x 75-millimetre pack howitzers. To supplement this artillery firepower, 1st British Corps had on 21 June 1944 formed an ad hoc battery of 12x 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipments, which was designated “X” Armoured Battery, Royal Artillery (“X” Armd Bty, RA). These 12x 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipments, had formerly been operated by the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group[1], elements of which had landed on 6 June 1944, in support of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division to provide supplementary artillery support, and had continued to support various Canadian and British units until it was decided, due to their losses (in both personnel and equipment) from enemy action, accidents and mechanical breakdowns, to withdraw the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group from Normandy. From 21 to 24 June, the Royal Marines crews trained the crews of the newly formed ad hoc “X” Armd Bty, RA, who were drawn from Royal Artillery reinforcement holding units in Normandy, on the 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipment.

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An example of the 75-millimetre pack howitzer with which 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery, was equipped. (Authors’ Collection)

These 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipments, were based on the British designed and built Cruiser Tank, Mark VIII, Centaur (A27L). Only 80 of these close support versions of the tank, mounting a 95-millimetre howitzer in the turret, in place of the standard armament of a 6-pounder gun were produced, and were simply known, as the ‘Centaur IV.’ The crew consisted of a commander, gunner, loader, driver, and co-driver. Fully loaded, the Centaur IV weighed 28 tonnes, and was 6.4 metres in length, by 2.5 metres in height, by 2.9 metres wide. The Centaur IV was armed with a 95-millimetre tank howitzer (Ordnance Quick Firing) and a co-axial 7.92-millimetre BESA machine gun, both of which were mounted, side by side, in the turret. The turret could be traversed manually by hand, or by a hydraulic power system, which enabled the turret to be completely traversed in14-15 seconds at the highest speed. The 95-millimetre tank howitzer had an elevation of minus 5-degrees to plus 34-degrees, and a nominal maximum range of 5,486 metres, and used fixed ammunition, in the form of either a high explosive (HE) shell, or high explosive hollow charge (HES) (capable of penetrating either armour, or concrete) shell, each weighing 11- kilograms, or a 7-kilogram smoke shell. There was stowage within the vehicle for 51 rounds of 95-millimetre ammunition (28 HE, five HES, and 18 Smoke), and for 4,950 rounds of 7.92-millimetre ammunition, contained in 22 boxes (with each box containing one 225-round belt). Like all other British tanks of the period, the Centaur IV had a 51-millimetre smoke bomb thrower (for localized smoke protection) mounted in the turret roof, with stowage inside the tank for 24 bombs, and was also equipped with a No. 19 wireless set (radio), which was housed in the turret. The No. 19 wireless set included an “A” set for general use, a “B” set for short range inter-tank work at troop level, and an intercommunication unit for the crew, so arranged that each member could establish contact with any one of the others. There was also an armoured box attached to the rear hull plate, which contained an “Infantry Telephone,” by which targets could be indicated to the crew commander from those being supported.

image 2 IWM (B5457)

A 95-millimetre howitzer equipped Centaur IV, seen here in service with “H” Troop, 2nd Battery, 1st Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment, Royal Marines Armoured Support Group. (IWM (B5457))

By August 1944, it had become necessary for the British to withdraw these reinforcement personnel from the ad hoc “X” Armd Bty, RA, to be employed as Royal Artillery reinforcements elsewhere, and they informed First Canadian Army, that they could no longer maintain this supplementary battery to the 6th Airborne Divisional Artillery, and that they would be withdrawing their personnel as of 8 August 1944. Since it was felt that the continued existence of this ad hoc battery was of an operational necessity at this time to provide artillery support within the 6th Airborne Divisional area of operations, Staff Duties, General Staff Branch, Headquarters First Canadian Army, on 4 August, drew up a request for the approval of Lieutenant-General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief First Canadian Army, for the authorization to form a temporary Canadian unit to man the 12x 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipments of the battery. This request was duly authorized by Crerar, on 6 August 1944, with a note that the continued authorization of this temporary Canadian unit, was to be reviewed monthly.

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The submission of 4 August 1944, to the GOC-in-C First Cdn Army from Staff Duties for the authorization to form 1st Canadian Centaur Battery.

Details of the organization of this proposed unit were attached to the Staff Duties request of 4 August, as Appendix “A,” under the heading of “Temporary SP Bty RCA (95mm CENTAUR),” under which, the proposed title of the unit was given as “1 Centaur Bty RCA,” with the proposed personnel strength of the unit given as 11 officers, and 100 other ranks, and that the 12x 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipments, and ammunition were already available. It also went on to state that administrative personnel and vehicles were not included in the proposed War Establishment, as the administration of the proposed unit was to be entirely undertaken by the British 6th Airborne Division, and that the formation of the unit would be made under the arrangements of First Canadian Army, with effect from 6 August 1944, and that the unit was to operate under the command of 1st British Corps. Lastly, it was stated that the unit would be disbanded as soon as its present operational necessity ceased (which was forecasted as within three to four weeks).

 

image 4

Appendix “A” to the Staff Duties submission of 4 August 1944, to the GOC-in-C First Cdn Army from Staff Duties for the authorization to form 1st Canadian Centaur Battery.

With Crerar’s authorization of 6 August for the formation of 1 Centaur Battery, RCA, things followed along quickly. Under Canadian Section General Headquarters 1st Echelon, 21 Army Group Administrative Order No. 5, dated 7 August 1944, the authorization for the formation of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 6 August 1944, in the North-Western European Theatre of Operations, under instructions of Headquarters First Canadian Army, and the approved Table of Organization for the battery was published. This was followed on 8 August by a letter from the Canadian Section General Headquarters 1st Echelon, 21 Army Group, to Canadian Military Headquarters (London), with an attached copy of the approved Table of Organization, informing them that the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief First Canadian Army (Crerar), had authorized the formation of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 6 August 1944. Subsequently, and after having received Privy Council authorization from National Defence Headquarters (Ottawa), the formation of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 6 August 1944, was notified under Canadian Military Headquarters Administrative Order No. 139, dated 18 August 1944.

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Cdn Sec GHQ 1 Ech 21 A Gp Admin Order No. 5/44, under which the authorization for the formation of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 6 August 1944, was published.

 

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CMHQ Admin Order No. 139/44, under which the authorization for the formation of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 6 August 1944, was published.

Under the Table of Organization that was published under both Cdn Sec GHQ 1 Ech 21 A Gp Admin Order No. 5/44, and CMHQ Admin Order No. 139/44, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, was to consist of 11 officers, and 103 other ranks, organized into a Battery Headquarters (two officers, and ten other ranks), and three Troops, with each Troop consisting of a Troop Headquarters (three officers, and 11 other ranks), and two Sections (each of ten other ranks), for a total Troop strength of 34 all ranks. Each Troop was to be equipped with one motorcycle, one Car 5-cwt (a Jeep), one Truck 15-cwt (fitted for Wireless (Radio)), one Observation Post Tank, and four (two per Section) 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipments, for a total battery strength of 12x 95-millimetre Centaur IVs.

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‘Section (i) Personnel’ of the Table of Organization for Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, that was attached to CMHQ Admin Order No. 139/44, as Appendix “A,” showing the distribution of personnel throughout the battery.

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‘Section (iii) Transport’ of the Table of Organization for Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, that was attached to CMHQ Admin Order No. 139/44, as Appendix “A,” showing the distribution of vehicles throughout the battery.

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‘Section (v) Organization’ of the Table of Organization for Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, that was attached to CMHQ Admin Order No. 139/44, as Appendix “A,” showing a breakdown of the battery’s organization.

On 9 August 1944, Captain F.D. Miller (Royal Canadian Artillery) arrived at “X” Armoured Battery, Royal Artillery, 6th Airborne Division, to begin the process of the handover of the battery to 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, and found that it was going to be necessary to keep the 95-millimetre Centaur IVs in action during the handover of the battery’s equipment from British to Canadian hands. The next day, Captain Miller met the incoming Battery Commander, Major D.M. Cooper (Royal Canadian Artillery), and a draft of Royal Canadian Artillery personnel, who were drawn from No. 12 Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion (No. 2 Canadian Base Reinforcement Group), consisting of six Lieutenants, six Sergeants, and three other ranks. After meeting with the Brigadier, Royal Artillery, Headquarters First Canadian Army, from where three 15-cwt trucks were obtained, Major Cooper, Captain Miller, and the nine-member draft proceeded to join “X” Armd Bty, RA. Upon arriving in the battery area, Major Cooper, assigned two Lieutenants, and two Sergeants, to each of 1st Canadian Centaur Battery’s three Troops, and appointed Captain Miller “C” Troop Leader, following which, Major Cooper met with Major Marchand (Royal Artillery), the Battery Commander, “X” Armoured Battery, RA. Marchand informed Cooper, that his battery was nothing more then predicted shooting on counter mortar, counter bombardment, and harassing fire tasks, and that the current policy of Headquarters 6th Airborne Divisional Artillery, because the position of the division was static, was maximum harassing fire on the enemy’s administrative areas, and vigorous and immediate retaliatory fire, to that of the enemy.

image 10 IWM (B5458)

Another image of a 95-millimetre howitzer equipped Centaur IV, seen here in service with “H” Troop, 2nd Battery, 1st Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment, Royal Marines Armoured Support Group. (IWM (B5458))

From 11 to 14 August, the men of 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, learned their respective jobs, and duties from their British counterparts of “X” Armoured Battery, and familiarized themselves with the 95-millimetre Centaur IVs. The battery’s Gunners were also greatly aided by three Instructors in Gunnery who were rushed over to Normandy from No. 1 Canadian School of Artillery (Overseas) in the United Kingdom to help the gunners in mastering the workings of the 95-millimetre tank howitzer. Also, during this period, another 22 personnel of the Royal Canadian Artillery, were brought forward to the battery from No. 12 Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion, and the three Troops of the battery were organized with one Sherman Observation Post Tank, four (two per Section) 95-millimetre Centaur IVs, and one Truck 15-cwt. On 14 August, another 38 personnel of the Royal Canadian Artillery, arrived from No. 12 Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion, and as of 8:00 P.M., that evening, Canadian personnel took over completely from their British counterparts. This was followed by the next day being spent in fine tuning the organization of 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, and also saw the establishment of Battery Headquarters, in rear of “A” Troops position, and the move of Major Cooper up to the battery position from Headquarters 6th Airborne Divisional Artillery. Captain E.J. Leapard (Royal Artillery), who had served with “X” Armoured Battery, RA, since its formation, was attached to 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, and was appointed Battery Captain. Also, 15 members of the British Royal Corps of Signals, and one mechanic (gun) from the British Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, who had served with “X” Armoured Battery, RA, were attached to 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, fulling the earlier stated commitment of the British in undertaking the administrative needs of the battery. 16 August saw the withdrawal of the remaining Royal Artillery members of “X” Armoured Battery, RA, and the arrival of Captain W.A. Walker, and Captain J. Else (both Royal Canadian Artillery), who respectively, were appointed “A” Troop Leader, and “B” Troop Leader. At 11:00 P.M. that evening, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery was warned to be prepared to move the next morning, as 6th Airborne Division began their advance toward the mouth of the River Seine along the coast, as part of First Canadian Army’s push to the River Seine, with 1st British Corps on the left, and 2nd Canadian Corps on the right.

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A ‘Sketch’ map showing First Canadian Army’s push to the River Seine, with the 6th Airborne Division on the left (coastal) flank, as mentioned in the text.

On 17 August 1944, under command of Headquarters 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery came into action near Troarn, France, in support of the British 6th Airlanding Brigade. From 17 to 27 August, the battery continued in support of elements of the 6th Airborne Division, which included 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, and Dutch infantrymen of the Royal Netherlands Brigade (Princess Irene’s), and of elements of the British 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, as 1st British Corps continued their advance toward the River Seine. By the morning of 27 August, the battery had only one Sherman Observation Post Tank, three 95-millimetre Centaur IVs, and one 95-millimetre Cromwell VI[2] left in action due to enemy action, accidents and mechanical breakdowns, which had occurred along the way since first going into action on 17 August, and had taken up gun positions to the rear of Toutainville, France. During the afternoon of 27 August, the 15 members of the British Royal Corps of Signals, who had been attached to the battery, were released and sent back to British 31 Reinforcement Holding Unit, and the battery’s tank crews who had accompanied their broken down, or damaged Sherman Observation Post Tanks, and 95-millimetre Centaur IVs, to workshops, rejoined the battery, leaving only the individual drivers behind.

TANKS AND AFVS OF THE BRITISH ARMY 1939-45

An example of a 95-millimetre Cromwell VI. (IWM (KID 961))

Earlier, on 24 August, while 1st Canadian Centaur Battery was out of action in a concentration area pending deployment for an attack beyond Pont-l’Évêque, France, the Brigadier Royal Artillery, Headquarters First Canadian Army, and the Officer Commanding, 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery, met with the Battery Commander, Major D.M. Cooper. During this meeting they suggested to Major Cooper that he endeavour to operate the battery as a six-gun battery, instead of that of a 12-gun battery, due to the battery’s losses (in both personnel and equipment) from enemy action, accidents and mechanical breakdowns, and that the battery would probably only be in operation for another two weeks, with the pending withdrawal of the 6th Airborne Division from 1st British Corps. Major Cooper was also informed at this time, that the 15 members of the British Royal Corps of Signals, were to be withdrawn from their attachment to the battery on 27 August (as noted in the paragraph above).

From their gun positions to the rear of Toutainville, France, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery remained in action until 12:00 P.M., 28 August 1944, at which point they ceased fire for the last time. During the afternoon, the battery moved back to a concentration area, and the reorganization from a 12-gun, to a six-gun battery took place. This reorganization lead to the release of Captain Walker, Captain Miller, two Lieutenants, and the gun crews (24 other ranks) of six 95-millimetre Centaur IVs (less drivers), who were all sent back to No. 2 Canadian Base Reinforcement Group, as Royal Canadian Artillery reinforcements. On 29 August, Major Cooper, Captain Leapard (Royal Artillery), and Captain Else, went to Headquarters Army Troops Area First Canadian Army, where Major Cooper received authority to disband 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, with effect from 30 August 1944, and also instructions on the disposal of the battery’s guns, vehicles, equipment, and personnel.

Solent News & Photo Agency

Another example of a Centaur IV, seen here in service with “S” Troop, 5th Royal Marine Independent Armoured Support Battery, Royal Marines Armoured Support Group. (Authors’ Collection)

On 30 August, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery moved to a concentration area near Pont-l’Évêque, France, where the process of the disposal of the battery’s guns, vehicles, equipment, and personnel began on the morning of 31 August. Between 31 August – 2 September 1944, the battery’s vehicles, and equipment were returned to the applicable Canadian Army Vehicle Park, or Ordnance Stores. The battery personnel themselves, were dispatched to No. 13 Canadian Base Reinforcement Battalion (No. 2 Canadian Base Reinforcement Group), as Royal Canadian Artillery reinforcements.

Having learned of the planned withdrawal of the 6th Airborne Division from 1st British Corps with effect from 30 August, Staff Duties, General Staff Branch, Headquarters First Canadian Army, drew up a request (dated 29 August 1944) for the approval of Lieutenant-General H.D.G. Crerar, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief First Canadian Army, for the authorization to disband Serial CM 802, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 30 August 1944, which was duly authorized by Crerar. Notification of the authorized disbandment of Serial CM 802, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, under instructions of Headquarters First Canadian Army, was published under Canadian Section General Headquarters 1st Echelon, 21 Army Group Administrative Order No. 10, dated 9 September 1944. This was followed by a message from Canadian Section General Headquarters 1st Echelon, 21 Army Group, to Canadian Military Headquarters (London), with an attached copy of the submission authorizing the disbandment of 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA (signed by Crerar), and a copy of Cdn Sec GHQ 1 Ech 21 A Gp Admin Order No. 10/44, under which it was notified. Subsequently, the disbandment of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 30 August 1944, was notified under Canadian Military Headquarters Administrative Order No. 149, dated 13 September 1944.

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The submission of 29 August 1944, to the GOC-in-C First Cdn Army from Staff Duties for the authorization to disband 1st Canadian Centaur Battery.

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Cdn Sec GHQ 1 Ech 21 A Gp Admin Order No. 10/44, under which the authorization for the disbandment of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 30 August 1944, was published.

image 16

CMHQ Admin Order No. 149/44, under which the authorization for the disbandment of Serial CM 804, 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA, with effect from 30 August 1944, was published.

Of the three Sherman Observation Post Tanks, and 12x  95-millimetre Centaur IVs, that 1st Canadian Centaur Battery had originally taken over from “X” Armoured Battery, Royal Artillery, only one Sherman Observation Post Tank (Census No. T149788), and four 95-millimetre Centaur IVs (Census Numbers T185007, T185107, T185373, and T185387) were in serviceable and operational condition when turned into 259 Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps (the ‘Corps’ delivery squadron for 1st British Corps), on 4 September 1944. These five vehicles were duly turned over to “F” Squadron, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), Canadian Armoured Corps (the ‘Army’ delivery squadron for First Canadian Army), on 5 September 1944, from where they were returned to the applicable Ordnance facility. The remaining two Sherman Observation Post Tanks, and eight 95-millimetre Centaur IVs, having been struck-off-charge of 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, were in various workshops throughout the 1st British Corps area, undergoing repairs, of one sort or another.

image 17

The ‘Vehicles Received’ portion of the daily balance sheet for 259 Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps, dated 4 September 1944, showing the receipt of four Centaur IVs, and one Sherman Observation Post tank from 1st Canadian Centaur Battery.

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The ‘Vehicles Issued’ portion of the daily balance sheet for 259 Delivery Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps, dated 5 September 1944, showing the issue of one Sherman Observation Post tank, and four Centaur IVs to “F” Squadron, 25th Canadian Armoured Delivery Regiment (The Elgin Regiment), Canadian Armoured Corps.


Notes

  1. The Royal Marines Armoured Support Group (equipped with 80x 95-millimetre Centaur self-propelled equipments) consisted of the 1st Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment (1st Battery (“A,” “B,” “C,” and “D” Troops) and 2nd Battery (“E,” “F,” “G,” and “H” Troops)), the 2nd Royal Marine Armoured Support Regiment (3rd Battery (“J,” “K,” “L,” and “M” Troops) and 4th Battery (“N,” “O,” “P,” and “Q” Troops)), and the 5th Royal Marine Independent Armoured Support Battery (“R,” “S,” “T,” and “V” Troops). Its five batteries were divided up between the British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, and the British 3rd Infantry Division, for the assault phase of the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, and continued to support British and Canadian troops in Normandy, until the Group was withdrawn.
  2. The 95-millimetre Cromwell VI, was based on the British designed and built Cruiser Tank, Mark VIII, Cromwell (A27M), and was the close support version of the Cromwell (A27M) tank, mounting a 95-millimetre tank howitzer in the turret, in place of the standard armament of a 6-pounder gun, and was simply known, as the ‘Cromwell VI.’ This particular 95-millimetre Cromwell VI, had been acquired by 1st Canadian Centaur Battery from the 8th Kings’s Royal Irish Hussars, the armoured reconnaissance regiment of the British 7th Armoured Division on 24 August 1944, and was returned to them during the disbandment process of the battery.

Sources:

– Library and Archives Canada – RG24, C2, Vol. 12245, and Vol. 12249.

– Library and Archives Canada – RG24, C3, Vol. 14248, and Vol. 14640.

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The Career Private

by Capt. Richard JS Law

From time to time Regimental museums hold artifacts that are sometimes overlooked, perhaps sitting in a dusty cabinets, or drawer and forgotten to the annals of history. These medals, held by The Brockville Rifles Regimental museum, tell an interesting tale; a tale of a painter by trade who sought military adventures around the globe. From left to right they are the Canada General Service Medal (1866-1870) with Fenian Raid 1870 clasp, the Queen’s South Africa Medal with Cape Colony clasp, the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, and the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal – each one is named to T. Glazier with various Regimental numbers and Regimental affiliations. On its own this grouping would indicate at a minimum 45 years of service and conflict on three continents. Perhaps even more impressive is that throughout the span of this time, this humble man remained at the rank of Private.

1

Private Glazier’s medals, now in the collection of The Brockville Rifles museum

Brockville native Torrence (also found as Torrance and Torence) Glazier fought during the Fenian Raids as a member of the 42nd Battalion of Infantry, a Brockville based Line Infantry unit formed on 5 October 1866, simultaneously to the 41st Battalion of Rifles. Evidence supports that he also participated in the Red River Rebellion as a member of the Provisional Battalion of Infantry despite not being awarded the Red River clasp[1]. For his service at Red River the Government provided him with a land grant which he transferred shortly after.[2] Later, he traveled to New Orleans on his own means to sail to South Africa where he joined the Scott’s Railway Guards (regimental number 351) with whom he served in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1901. This small unit consisted of roughly 500 all ranks under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.G. Scott, VC, DSO and was a South African Colonial Corps tasked with defending railways which were under threat of the Boers.

There are also allegations, according to the third issue of The Legionary magazine from 15 June 1926 that Glazier had fought in the American Civil War; however no further evidence supports this claim. He allegedly attempted to join the Japanese in fighting the Russians during the Russo-Japanese war in 1907 when he traveled to the Pacific, again of his own means, but was unsuccessful in joining their forces. He received his Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal as a member of the 41st Regiment (Brockville Rifles) in 1921.[3]

Twice, in 1914, Glazier attempted to join the 21st Battalion (Eastern Ontario) Canadian Expeditionary Force, but was rejected.[4] He attested with the 92nd Battalion (48th Highlanders) Canadian Expeditionary Force in Toronto on 13 August 1915 being assigned Regimental number 194971, but was subsequently discharged being found unfit for duty on 2 September 1915 due to “overage”.[5] On his attestation he divulges his military experience with the Scott’s Railway Guards as a Private in the Anglo-Boer War but nothing is listed regarding the Fenian Raids of 1870, likely in effort to avoid being rejected due to his advanced age. Interesting to note, his attestation papers list his year of birth as 1871, despite the fact he was 71 years old at the time he joined the CEF.

2

Attestation papers clearly showing the notation “Discharged” Library & Archives Canada

In order to qualify for the 1914-1915 Star he would have had to be in continental Europe prior to 1916. He seems to have completed his wartime service as a Pioneer, Regimental number 125495, with the 11th Pioneer Battalion, Royal Engineers of the British Army whom he joined 24 October 1915 after traveling to the United Kingdom, once again by his own means. Within a week he of joining he was in France where he spent nearly two months in the trenches.[6] Upon being affected by rheumatism he was returned to England in January of 1916 where his age was revealed upon inspection by a Medical Officer at the Bagthorpe Military Hospital.

4

February 1916 account of Glaziers storied past and his challenges in joining the Colours.

Once again he was discharged due to his age, but undeterred he allegedly attempted to join the CEF upon his return to Canada. He died 25 March 1930 and is buried in the Oakland cemetery in Brockville, Ontario. His grave is marked by a humble head stone inscribed “Private Torrence Glazier RE CEF 25th March 1930.” No plaques or flowers surround it.

7

Glazier’s tombstone. He is buried in Oakland cemetery in Brockville

He is undoubtedly one of the more interesting characters of Canadian military history, and most likely, the oldest Canadian veteran to attest during the First World War which has seemingly been forgotten for years as a footnote of a proud Nation’s history. All told, he is confirmed to have fought in three separate wars, with three different Armies, on three continents.


Notes

[1] Red River Expeditionary Force 1870-1877: Appendix II

[2] LAC, RG15-D-II-9-a File no 3362, Private Torrance Glazier of the Provisional Battalion of Infantry, 1875-10-09

[3] General Order 21/233

[4] Clarke, Nic, Unwanted Warriors : Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, UBC Press, 2015.

[5] LAC, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3580-11, item 420432, GLAZIER, Torrence (125495)

[6] Patriotism of a Veteran Fighter Shames Slackers, The St Lawrence Republican, Ogdensburg NY, 16 February 1916

Captain Law, The Royal Canadian Regiment, is currently serving as the Regimental Adjutant to The Brockville Rifles

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COLOURED FIELD SERVICE CAPS OF THE EDMONTON REGIMENT AND LOYAL EDMONTON REGIMENT

by James J. Boulton

The coloured field service caps of this regiment are of particular interest because most officers did not wear the regulation pattern and added a badge that had not been approved, and finally many of the caps worn by other ranks were of higher quality than normally seen.

With the introduction of the 1937 pattern field service cap to the British and Canadian armies, the officers of each regiment and corps were invited to submit proposed patterns for officers and other ranks up the chain of command to National Defence Headquarters where final approval was given by the Master-General of the Ordnance.

Officers

Officers’ caps were generally distinguished by superior, quality fabric, fine construction and satin or silesia linings with a velvet sweatband. Metallic French braid (circular in cross section) was restricted to officers’ caps. Both gold wire and metallized celluloid braid are seen.

The pattern selected by officers of the Edmonton Regiment was blue and scarlet, corresponding to the officers’ blue undress forage cap with scarlet piping on the crown. It was finished with gold French braid.

While some cap patterns were unique to the unit, the pattern selected by the regiment was similar to that of generals, brigadiers and substantive colonels of both the British and Canadian armies and shared with the officers of the Prince Edward Island Light Horse and Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke.

The approved regulation patterns consisted of:       TableEdmonton Regt. Officer's CFSC rev

The regulation pattern coloured Field Service cap and badge for officers. The gold metalized celluloid French braid on the curtain is to be noted. (JJB collection, courtesy WG Hughes

The regulation pattern for officers was included in the Dress Regulations 1943, specifying gold French braid on the crown, front and back seam and the curtain.

Numerous examples and the photographic record show, however, that scarlet piping on the curtain was commonly substituted, creating a handsome and distinctive pattern. This notwithstanding, the Dress Regulations 1947 continue to specify gold braid throughout.

The reason for this unauthorized change is so far unknown. It is not likely, but possible, that the British manufacturer, Hobson and Sons, suggested the alteration because of the resemblance of the regulation pattern to that of generals and senior staff officers and may indeed have been reticent to produce it for the regiment.

It is, however, curious that the change was not presented to the Master-General of the Ordnance, given the considerable correspondence on coloured field service caps at every level of the army throughout the war.

CFSC.LER.off

Officer’s cap, attributed to Lt. T.P.H. Darlington. A common variation with the substitution of scarlet piping on the curtain. (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum collection)

Caps for the Edmonton Regiment were made in both Britain and Canada. It  is believed that all Canadian-made caps were the regulation pattern.

Other Ranks

Many examples of the caps for the other ranks of the regiment are unusual in that they approximate officers’ quality interiors, including the velvet sweatband, whether of Canadian or British manufacture and whether with quality or standard shell fabric.

The other ranks’ pattern resembles the coloured field service caps for officers of the Midland Regiment, the Prince of Wales Rangers and the Westminster Regiment.

 

CFSC.LER.or

An other ranks’ cap by Hobson and Sons, London. Officers’ quality construction with a black satin lining and black velvet sweatband. British bright gilt General Service buttons. (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum collection)

Badges

Officers of the regiment generally used issue brass badges available through the Quartermaster, but the coloured field service caps were attractive, expensive and often great care taken in finishing them with handsome badges.

Occasional, costly fire gilt (gold frosted) officers’ badges are seen. Many officers’ caps bear gold wire embroidered badges made in England reflecting homage to the 49th Battalion, CEF, but not yet officially approved. A War Office order in March 1941 actually prohibited embroidered badges.  In 1943, the regiment was re-designated the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, the change reflected in a revised badge.

ER.BDG.gilt

Left, rare fire gilt officers’ badge. Center , a fine wire-embroidered  badge. Right, a brass badge. The scarlet backing was added pursuant to orders in July 1944 and March 1945.

Buttons  

British General Service buttons are common on caps made in England. Canadian made caps usually were finished with Canadian general service buttons.  A regimental pattern is known. One British-made example curiously bears 1901 pattern Canadian Militia buttons that the maker had available.

The regulation size was 20-ligne (1/2 inch, 13 mm) but there was a small range of sizes seen in use.

BTN.Brit.GS

Left to right, British GS, Canadian GS, regimental, Canadian Militia buttons

 

LER.officer.2

Lt. Colonel W.G. Stillman in July 1941. He commanded the regiment when it was mobilized. (MilArt Photo Archives)

FSC.LER.rev.

The very fine appearance of the most common officers’ cap pattern and badge.  (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum collection)

LER.officer.1

Major A.F. McDonald, pictured in England in May 1943.  The buttons are British general service and the badge is embroidered wire. There is gold braid on the crown and seams and red piping on the curtain. (Milart Photo Archives)

1989.2.96 cropped

Officers of the regiment pictured in Britain in 1941. All are wearing coloured field service caps. Included in the group are an officer of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and one of the Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, wearing their respective corps coloured caps. The chaplain at far right, a honorary captain, is wearing a khaki field service cap. (Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum archives)

 

CFSC cover option 2a

Reference:  Boulton, J.J. and C.M. Law – Canadian Field Service Caps Service Publications 2014

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What is Old is New Again: Formation Signs of the Canadian Army 2015

by Bill Alexander

In 2011, the Land, Sea or Air Elements of the Canadian Forces were re-designated as the three traditional services, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Canadian Army. Unification of the Canadian Forces was officially ended. The Canadian Army continued with re-structuring and in 2013 the LAND FORCE (LF) Areas of Canada were renamed divisions, with each of the four land force areas named after one of the overseas divisions of the Second World War.

Under the new structure, 1 Canadian Division, re-organized in 2010 as a regular force command and control headquarters retained its designation while the other four divisions were distributed across Canada by renaming the existing LF areas:

  • LF Atlantic Area became 5 Canadian Division,
  • Secteur du Quebec de la Force Terrestre (SQFT)/LF Quebec Area, 2e Division du Canada,
  • LF Central Area, 4 Canadian Division, and
  • LF Western Area was re-named 3 Canadian Division.

Concurrent with this re-designation, formation signs were authorized for wear by each division.[i]

Following the army precedent for formation patches since the First World War, the new division signs are made in the standard size of two by three inches. The patches were to reflect the colours used for the Second World War division signs. Using a Pantone system, colours were selected based on the historic division signs. The new division formation signs are made of a Melton material with an embroidered border bonded to a second layer of plastic backing.  The patches are trimmed along the embroidered edges.

1-cdn-div-1990-2011

1 Canadian Division had been organized and disbanded twice between 1950 and 1999 and it was reactivated for a third time in 2010. With the 2014 re-organization, it was indicated that the new pattern division signs would be provided for 1 Cdn Division shortly. The implication was that the latest incarnation of 1 Cdn Division was not wearing a patch or they were using another pattern. The division sign was the traditional crimson red worn by all previous iterations of 1 CID. 2e DC adopted a medium blue colour, more similar to the Second World War pattern than the dark blue of the First World War division patch. Some problems crept into the grey colour selected for 3 Canadian Division. The initial choice was determined to be incorrect in the shade of grey and a second slightly darker grey was selected; only a small number of the incorrect patches were issued. 4 Canadian Division adopted a medium green patch and 5 Canadian Division, a shade of maroon. The new melton materials reflect different shades of the chosen colours depending on lighting. The new formation signs came into wear in 2014 and the issue was to be complete by 2015.

2e-dc3-cdn-div-15

The new division signs are worn on the army DEU and the introduction of the new signs required some modifications to dress regulations.  The Land Force Areas had been organized into ten brigade groups in 1997. The brigade structure continued under the new division organization and personnel wear both their appropriate brigade patch and the new division sign. The brigade patches are worn 7 cm below the shoulder seam on the right sleeve of the army DEU uniform. The division signs are to be worn 7 cm below the shoulder seam on the left sleeve.

4-div-145-div-14

At the same time that new division signs were approved, the Canadian Army HQ (CA HQ) and the Canadian Army Training and Doctrine Centre (CATDC) were also authorized formation signs. Drawing on historic precedent, the Second World War First Canadian Army formation sign, a diamond shape with a central blue bar on a red field became the basis of the new CA HQ sign and the CADTC uses the sign of 1 Cdn Corps, a plain red diamond. Manufactured in the same manner as the division signs, with embroidered cut edges and, a fully embroidered blue bar for the CA HQ, these formation signs are worn on the left sleeve of the DEU. New formation signs are strictly controlled and issued in limited numbers to personnel.  In the last year (2016), Level 1 and Level 2 formation headquarters commanders and RSM began wearing the Div patch on the right arm of the CADPAT uniform.[ii]

cadtc-1ca-hq

The new patches are an interesting revival of formation signs and provide continuity for the historic formations of the Canadian Army. Though somewhat arbitrary in the assignment to geographic areas, the new division signs recognize the past organization of the Canadian army and perpetuate their insignia in the contemporary army.


Notes

[i] 1 Canadian Division could be the formation that refused to die. First organized in World War One, the division was reformed in World War Two, again disbanded and reformed in the 1950’s and again in the 1990’s. The latest incarnation was authorized in 2010.

The re-designation of LF areas to Divisions creates some interesting anomalies. During the war, the order of battle of the overseas divisions was not drawn on a regional basis. Today, each of the regions has regiments that served in several of the five overseas divisions. For example, in the Maritime provinces, the Princess Louise Fusiliers and Cape Breton Highlanders served in 5 Canadian Armoured Division, while the Royal New Brunswick Regt (Carleton & York Regiment) and West Nova Scotia Regiment were in 1 Canadian Infantry Division, the North Shore Regiment (New Brunswick) and North Nova Scotia Highlanders were in 3 Canadian Infantry Division and the New Brunswick Rangers perpetuated by the Royal New Brunswick Regiment served in 4 Canadian Armoured Division.

[ii] Level 1 includes the army HQ and CADTC and Level 2 includes division headquarters command officers and RSM’s.

Cold Signs: Winter Exercise Patches 1944-1950

© B.Alexander 2016

Over time, cloth sleeve insignia has evolved from identifying positions of authority and membership in units, regiments or formations to incorporate other purposes, including participation in short term operations or taskings. Intended to be worn only for the duration of the particular deployment, this use for Canadian insignia appeared during the Second World War. Unique formation patches were worn by some Canadian personnel participating in Task Force 9, the invasion of Kiska.  Ordered taken down when these units returned to Canada, their issue had established a precedent. Unique patches for a short term deployment were issued for personnel participating in winter exercises held in northern Canada.

image09

Formation patches worn by Canadians of the 13th Infantry Brigade participating in Task Force 9, the invasion of Kiska. Author’s collection

Defence of the northern reaches of Canada took on a new priority towards the end of the Second World War. The spectre of Soviet Russian expansionism impacted strategy and operations; developing the capability to defend Canada’s northern territory in the event of an incursion or invasion figured prominently in NDHQ planning. The army recognized the need to develop winter warfare capabilities and staged several exercises for this purpose. Over the winter of 1944-45, Exercise Eskimo was held in northern Saskatchewan to test equipment and develop doctrine for dry cold conditions. Two other exercises were held the same winter; Exercise Polar Bear and Exercise Lemming. Exercise Polar Bear, a corollary to Ex Eskimo was held in northern British Columbia and was intended to test equipment and doctrine for wet cold conditions. Exercise Lemming, conducted in late winter, focused on operating vehicles in barren lands of the far north.  Approximately 1750 personnel were committed to Ex Eskimo, another 1150 to Ex Polar Bear, but only 17 personnel were assigned to Lemming.[1]

image07

The exercise patch created for Exercise Eskimo held in northern Saskatchewan over the winter of 1944-45. Author’s collection

A special patch was made for Ex Eskimo. In white embroidery on a blue Melton circle, it shows an igloo with a plume of smoke and the North Star in the upper right quadrant. A white half circle border is embroidered around the upper half of the tasking sign. The patch was intended to identify participating personnel only for the duration of the exercise. Consistent with contemporary formation sign policy, the patches were worn on both sleeves. Photo evidence indicates that they were worn both on battledress and winter parkas. It is not known if the patch was also worn by the personnel of Ex Polar Bear, the wet cold scheme held in British Columbia.  The small size of Ex Lemming and its remote location make it unlikely the patches were issued to this group. Along with the exercises’ stated purposes of testing uniforms and equipment, the patches were subjected to evaluation. At the end of the scheme the patches were deemed acceptable.

image08

The Ex Eskimo patch was worn in battledress as well as on the parka and was displayed on both sleeves.

In the winter of 1946, a far more ambitious non-tactical exercise was mounted. Designated Exercise Musk Ox, it was “intended to study the problems of living and moving with over-snow vehicles in the Arctic barrens in winter”. A team of army personnel would navigate the Arctic barrens, starting in Churchill Manitoba, proceeding north, circumventing the Northwest Territories, and finally heading south to end in Edmonton Alberta, 3100 miles later. The convoy was manned by 48 officers and men plus some observers, with an additional 221 army personnel in supporting roles. Resupply of the expedition was by 1 Air Supply Unit No 9 Transport Group RCAF. [2]

image05

Patch worn for Exercise Musk Ox, held over the winter of 1946. Author’s collection

As with the previous year’s exercise, Ex Musk Ox personnel wore a unique tasking patch. Reflecting the land, sea and air elements, and their round, fully embroidered, cut edge, patch had representations of an aircraft, a naval vessel and once again an igloo. These were placed on a background of arctic mountains and a fjord. The fully embroidered patch was made with field colours in white and pale blue, with details picked out in black embroidery and a black embroidered border. Photo evidence indicates the patch was worn on both sleeves of the battledress tunic. The patches were worn by both the convoy team and supporting elements.  The patches became redundant with the successful conclusion of Ex Musk Ox in the spring of 1946.[3]

image01

After 1946, dedicated arctic exercises fell off the agenda for NDHQ.  Demobilization of the army and setting and implementing post war defence policy pushed arctic adventures to the back-burners of the planners in Ottawa. That abruptly changed. The growing Soviet threat and the strategic importance of the north necessitated a military capability to defend Canadian sovereignty. The US Army, already interested in northern operations, had staged Exercise Yukon, held only in Alaska, from late 1947 into March 1948. Concepts and doctrine for winter warfare were tested.  For the participating elements of 2nd Division, US Army, a special fully embroidered shoulder arc reading Exercise Yukon, in white on black was issued. With no Canadian military participation in this exercise, no Canadians were issued the arc.

image03

No Canadians participated in Ex Yukon. Author’s collection

A year and a half later, in February and March 1950, a joint US-Canadian scheme named Exercise Sweetbriar was held in Alaska and the Yukon. Based on the premise of an enemy incursion into an area along the Alaska Highway, a combined operations response was launched to eliminate the threat. Elements of the US 5th Army and the Canadian army including 1 PPCLI, an artillery troop from the RCHA, an Air OP Section, detachments from the RCE, RCCS, RCAMC, RCASC, RCEME, and the C Pro C, supported by elements of the RCAF conducted tactical exercises to test winter warfare doctrine and the equipment of both armies. As part of the exercise, a company of the PPCLI staged an air assault on an objective in extremely cold weather.

image04

Cover page of the post-exercise report for Exercise Sweetbriar. Author’s collection

To mark participation in Exercise Sweetbriar, a shoulder arc, (called a “blaze” in period documentation, but more commonly called tabs), was issued. The fully embroidered cut edge title read US ARCTIC CAN embroidered in white on a blue field with a red embroidered border. The US 5th Army components were issued the blaze, to be worn above the army formation sign. Evidence shows some Canadian personnel wearing the titles, but it is not clear if the entire contingent wore the arc during the exercise. It has been suggested that the tabs were given to Canadian participants as a souvenir.[4]

image02

Two variants of the shoulder title worn by some Canadians at Exercise Sweetbriar, held in February and March 1950. Author’s collection

The patches worn for Exercises Eskimo, Musk Ox and Sweetbriar marked a transition in the purpose of formation signs worn by the Canadian army.  In addition to identifying a formation or unit, the signs now marked participation in an exercise and served to show the short term tasking of the personnel. Ultimately they became a souvenir for the participants. This would become a common practice for many future deployments.


Notes

[1]Halliday, Hugh A. (1997) “Recpaturing the North: Exercises “Eskimo,” “Polar Bear” and “Lemming,” 1945,” Canadian Military History: Vol. 6: Iss. 2, Article 4. Available at: http://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol6/iss2/4

[2] “Exercise Musk-Ox”, Reports Re, Dept of External Affairs, General File No. 8458-40. RG 25 Vol. 3811. And Thrasher K.M. Exercise Musk Ox: Lost Opportunities, M.A. Thesis Submission, Dept of History, Carleton University, 1998. LAC distribution.

[3] Halliday, Hugh A. (1998) “Exercise “Musk Ox”: Asserting Sovereignty “North of 60”,” Canadian Military History: Vol. 7: Iss. 4, Article 4.Available at: http://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol7/iss4/4

[4] Rottman, Gordon L., SFC. “The US and Canadian Arctic Blaze” publisher unattributed and undated. Clipped article found in an LAC file.

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