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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).

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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

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

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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)

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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)

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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]

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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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Marksmanship Badges of the Canadian Militia

Clive M. Law

Napoleon famously stated that an army marches on its stomach. It can also be said that an army is motivated by peer-recognition and nowhere is this more evident than in the awarding of insignia – ‘bling’ in modern parlance.

The Canadian Militia in the early 1900s certainly recognized this and, emulating the British Army, instituted a number of skill and prize badges which could be worn by Militiamen of Permanent Force. At the time the PF consisted of the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD), Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles (RCMR), Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA), Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery (RCGA), the Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE) and The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR). The various Corps (Service Corps, Veterinary Corps, Ordnance Stores, etc..) were not eligible.

Most recognizable are the badges awarded for shooting and the 1905 Musketry Instructions outlined criteria for several levels of skill badges (awarded to all who met a standard) as well as prize badges (awarded to the top competitors).

Several years establishing the criteria, the Department of Militia and Defence (M&D) issued the “Regulations for the Clothing of the Canadian Militia – Permanent Force” which provides the modern researcher with details of the competitions and descriptions of the awards.

The basic badge was that of the Marksman. This consisted of a pair of crossed rifles and was awarded to each man who qualified by attaining a set score. This was a skill at arms badge.

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Marksman’s badge

The remaining shooting badges are prize badges which required the winner to be the top shooter within his Company, Battery or Squadron. Only marksmen were able to compete for these badges.

Best shot in company, etc…  A badge consisting of crossed rifles and star. Limited to a squadron, battery or company in which not less than thirty men have competed, and will be awarded to that marksman who makes the highest score. Casuals or men attached from other units or companies were not eligible.

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Best shot in Company, Battery or Squadron

Best shot of Sergeants and Lance Sergeants. In the RCA, RCE, and RCR*, a badge of crossed rifles and crown surrounded by a wreath of bay leaves. This badge was awarded to the winner of a competition agreed to by the Officers Commanding RCA, or RCR, as well as the officer administering R.C.E., with a view to test all round shooting skill, and was open to all Sergeants and Lance-Sergeants of these arms of the service who were marksman.

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Best shot of Sergeants and Lance Sergeants

Best shot of Corporals and Privates, in RCA, RCE, and RCR*  A badge consisting of crossed rifles and star surrounded by a wreath of bay leaves. The terms were the same as for Sergeants and Lance-Sergeants (above).

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Best shot of Corporals and Privates

For the prize badges a winner was selected from each company.

Once awarded, they were to be taken into wear as soon as possible after they had been won, and would be worn until the next year’s awards had been published in unit orders. The badges were ordered to be worn on the left fore-arm.  When a soldier had won a prize badge he would no longer wear the marksman’s badge but he could, if earned in the same year, wear any combination of the three prize badges concurrently.

By 1909, when Service Dress had been fully issued to the PF, badges were of worsted material but the badges were also available for the coloured serge frock and tunic, in gold embroidery for Sr. NCOs and worsted yellow embroidery for the rank and file. This was later changed to gold embroidery for all ranks.

Commanding officers were responsible to ensure that the badges were only issued to or worn by men whose names were published in the unit’s orders, a copy of which was to be attached to the issue roll for the month in which the issue is made.

As the rate of issue was a single badge to each qualifier (others could be privately purchased by the soldier) Commanding officers would indent in the usual way on nearest ordnance depot for only such badges as have been qualified for.

  • No mention is made in the instructions concerning the RCD or RCMR but it is assumed that they qualified on a similar basis.

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The Albert Pattern Helmet and the 1st Hussars

Maj (ret’d) MR McNorgan

In 1843 the dragoon regiments of the British army adopted a steel helmet termed the ‘Albert pattern.’ This headwear had front and back peaks and was held on the wearer’s head by means of a metal chin strap backed with leather. The front of the helmet carried a unit badge, while the top had a plume-stem from which emanated a horse-hair plume of appropriate colour or colours.

Canadian cavalry regiments were quick to adopt the stylish new item. Although worn primarily by regiments of dragoons and dragoon guards, it was also used by regiments of horse and even by some hussars in lieu of the busby. In the 1870s the design was somewhat simplified with some of the elaborate embellishments on the front peak being removed while brass was substituted for steel as the principal material of the helmet’s body (see A Cavalry Helmet to the 6th Canadian Cavalry Regt. (Hussars) for an example of this later pattern). Today Albert pattern brass helmets can be seen on the heads of soldiers in full dress from The Royal Canadian Dragoons, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (RC) and the Governor General’s Horse Guards, to name but a few.

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One of two surviving examples of the helmet can be found at the Canadian War Museum. Courtesy CWM

The 1st Hussars date their origins from the year 1856 when two volunteer cavalry troops were raised under the terms of the Militia Act of 1855. This act provided for Militiamen to be paid whereas prior to this they served at their own expense. The elder unit, in St Thomas, dates from 20 March 1856 and would eventually become ‘A’ Squadron of the 1st Hussars, while the next was raised in London on 24 July 1856, becoming in the fullness of time the Hussars’ ‘B’ Squadron. However, there were two Militia cavalry units in the area before 1856 and they are also a part of the Regiment’s history. The older of these two units was the ‘1st London Independent Troop of Cavalry’ raised on 9 May 1851 (General Order (3) 9/5/51) and drawing its personnel from Middlesex County. The next was ‘The First Middlesex Light Dragoons’, raised on 24 April 1853 (General (1) 24/4/53) and drawing on the Town of London for its recruits. It would appear to be typical military logic that the unit with the name Middlesex would recruit in London while the unit with London in its title recruited in the county! Either that or the compiler of the records transposed information between the two files!

The 1st London Independent Troop of Cavalry was issued with an Albert pattern steel helmet, 1847-pattern. The unit badge shows a numeral 1 in front of the name LONDON with the initials CW below. CW stood for Canada West, the name by which what is now Ontario was known between the years 1841 and 1867. Above the designation 1 LONDON is a beaver facing left. The beaver was a common symbol on Militia badges of the time. The Queen’s cipher ‘VR’ for Victoria Regina is at the top of the badge. The horse-hair plume is black.

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The helmet obtained by the 1st Hussars at auction. Sadly this distressed example is both cracked and holed. Courtesy 1H Museum

On 24 March 2007 an example of this helmet was put up for auction in Paris Ontario. The Regiment’s Don Bondy, accompanied by Mike Steele, attended the auction with the intent of securing this piece of regimental history. Unfortunately, there was an American militaria collector also bidding on the item, by telephone, and the price climbed high before the two Hussar representatives were successful. In researching their prize they would discover that there is only one other example known, a helmet held by the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The War Museum’s version is in excellent condition, which unhappily the Regiment’s version is not. The helmet purchased in Paris has a large hole in its right side and several cracks in the metal. Nevertheless, for an object so old and rare it is a prized find.

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A recently discovered portrait of Captain Rivers who was the first commanding officer of the 1st Troop of Volunteer Militia Cavalry of London. The portrait clearly shows the Albert-pattern helmet by his side. Courtesy Rivers family.

In 2016 the 1st Hussars were contacted by a local family who were doing genealogical research. They had two Victorian-era ancestral portraits depicting one Captain James W.B. Rivers and his wife. They were hoping that the Hussars could give them more information on Captain Rivers, who was shown wearing a cavalry uniform. This chance request proved to be a gold mine of information for the Regiment. Captain Rivers was none other than the first commanding officer of the 1st Troop of Volunteer Militia Cavalry of London, raised on 24 July 1856 and the direct progenitor of ‘B’ Squadron, 1st Hussars. We now have a direct link between what is officially recognised as one of the Regiment’s two founding units and the 1851-era 1st London Independent Troop of Cavalry. We now have a portrait, in colour no less, of one of the first two commanding officers of the antecedent units. We have a rare image, again in colour, of a mid-Victorian Canadian cavalry uniform. And finally, we have a link showing the provenance of the Regiment’s Albert pattern helmet.

There are more questions to be asked and researched once a clear copy of the painting is obtained. The details of the uniform and its badges will add to our meagre store of knowledge on these matters. This painting is a gold mine indeed.


Notes

Note 1: What was called a cavalry troop in Victorian times would today be called a squadron. These various troops should be therefore thought of as independent squadrons to better understand their role.

Note 2: The reader may be getting confused by the similar sounding titles and so they are listed here for ease of comprehension. Captain James Rivers commanded both of these units:

  • 1851 – 1st London Independent Troop of Cavalry
  • 1856 – 1st Troop of Volunteer Militia Cavalry of London

Editor’s note. An earlier version of this article appeared in the 1st Hussars’ “The Bulletin”.  McNorgan, Mike.  “The Albert Pattern Helmet and the 1st Hussars.”  The Bulletin Sept 2015 Vol 15 No 2: 7-8.  Print.

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Cap Badges of the Canadian Armed Forces Pipes and Drums

by Mark Passmore

A while back, on a military collecting social media site, a new variation of cap badge the CFB Borden Pipes and Drums Badge was posted. A member of the site stated “it looks like Pipers are taking liberties again.” This is to share a little history on the design and adoption of these badges and to address the specific comment.

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Current Badge of the CFB Borden Pipes and Drums 2012. “Bho Thoisesch” is Gaelic for “In the Beginning”. This is the base motto (usually in Latin “E Principio”) for CFB Borden

I understand that in the Regular Force the Black Watch of Canada (Royal Highlanders) and the Canadian Guards  were the only ones that had “proper” authorization for their pipe bands’ cap badge (since then, the Regular Force battalions of the Black watch were disbanded and the Canadian Guards were reduced to “nil strength”). This authorization stemmed from the heraldic and Dress authority at  DND (at the time this was the Directorate of Ceremonial, now the Directorate of History and Heritage).

This was probable an easier task for the Canadian Guards as the entire unit, including the band, was stood up all at once (see “Pipers Distinctions in the Regiment of Canadian Guards“) and even their original badge was altered slightly after time, and the Black Watch wore their Regiment’s badge.

 

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Canadian Guards Pipes and Drums 1954 – 1970

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Canadian Guards Pipes and drums variation (Usually created for cost savings). This was the regiment’s regular enlisted soldiers badge adhered to a separate buckle. The band could buy the buckle part in greater numbers and would have to only go to the regiments badges readily available from the QM, you will see the same thinking with The Royal Canadian Regiment Pies and Drums and the Royal Military College.

In the 1970s the two Regular Force regiments, the Black Watch of Canada (Royal Highlanders) and the Canadian Guards were disbanded and with them went their Pipe Bands. The remaining regular regiments only had brass and reed bands. This almost wiped out piping in the regular army. This created a ripple effect throughout the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the bases complained that they lost their pipes and drums, and therefore their musical support for Mess dinners, graduation parades, Church parades, change of commands and so on. This is what partly created the new “volunteer” band system we have today. The positions for P&D personnel were now under the control of the “Music Branch” now instead of the regiments. The pipers and drummers were offered other jobs within the CAF, such as clerks, cooks and so on. Throughout the mayhem a few were able to keep their jobs and join the ranks of the Music branch.

The end result was the modern setup, where the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch at CFB Gagetown became the RCR Pipes and Drums, and, in 1993 the CFB Gagetown base P&D. The Canadian Guards P&D became the Special Service Force Pipes and Drums (now 2 CMBG, CFB Petawawa). The RCAF were already using this model of the volunteer bands and the Army followed suit.

CFB Borden Pipes and Drums was created when the CAF amalgamated the two schools of music (RCAF Station Rockcliffe) for pipes and drums and CFB Esquimault, or brass and reed).

The “Volunteer Band” model is (for the most part) one piper and one drummer (Sgt up to CWO) from the regular force posted to a base to provide musical support. The two members are trained to run and train music, logistics and administration of their respective volunteer bands and the volunteers are made up of other military personal (sometimes as a secondary duty), augmentees from the Reserve Force and even civilians. These bands work directly for base HQ.

Because of the base Pipes and Drums were an  identity of their own now, they had to create a uniform. The RCAF bases were easy but now bands at CFB Petawawa, CFB Gagetown, and CFB Borden had to decide what kilt and badge to wear as a Highland Pipe Band.

At CFB Petawawa (the SSF) wore the black Stewart tartan. Oral history tells us the reasons for this is the Base Commander at the time was a Stewart. The Canadian Guard pipers wore the Royal Stewart as did all Guard’s units. The “black” Stewart was chosen to represent the lineage of the Black Devils (better known as the Devils Brigade from WW2) and the badge was to be a metal version of the unit’s brigade arm patch, When that unit was re-organized as the 2 CMBG they used the same idea  for their badge and kept the same tartan.

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Special Service Force Pipes and drums 1977-1980. A nice badge W Scully maker marked.

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Pipes and drums of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group 1995. This badge was short lived due to its weight and that it was attached by a slider. W Scully marked

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Pipes and drums of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (Current Badge).

At CFB Gagetown, The RCR pipes and drums (later the Base Gagetown P&D) wore the Canadian Army’s government tartan the “Maple Leaf”. The badge of the RCR, P&D was the regimental badge attached to a traditional Scottish buckle.

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Pipes and drums of the Royal Canadian Regiment 1971-Pressent. The band now wears a cloth version. It’s worth mentioning that the RCR P&D is the only regiment left to have infanteers as pipers and drummers and do not hold any (0817 or 00160) musicians’ positions on their establishment.

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Combat Training Centre (CTC) Camp Gagetown Pipes and Drums 1993

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Pipes and Drums of the 3 Area Support Group (3ASG). CFB Gagetown

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5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown 2011. (Current badge of the Band)

CFB Borden, P&D wear the Hunting Stewart Tartan because of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters regiment whom built the base in 1916 for the training of the CEF. The cap badge was the same as that for CFB Gagetown where they took the base crest and put it into the same belt style.

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CFB Borden Pipes and Drums 1992-2012. This was a very poorly made badge. There was a need to create an improved badge.

The Pipe Majors and Drum Majors who formed these bands initially came from either the Canadian Guards or the Black Watch so it makes sense that the style of badges look similar to those of the original regiments. Although they were not authorized by DHH the designs were approved by the base commanders at the time and significant research was put into the final designs. No one yet has challenged these badges.

RCAF bases, such as CFB Trenton, Shearwater, Ottawa, Greenwood, North Bay, Cold Lake, Lahr (Germany) and others, wear the RCAF tartan and the Air Element badge. In the early years the bands, both Brass and Reed and Pipes and Drums, wore a silver badge to identify them as musicians. To this day the Pipes and Drums of 400 Squadron continue to wear the “kings crown” cap bade. This practice was challenged in the 1970’s and it was agreed that the band could wear these obsolete badges until supplies ran out. This will explain why so there exists so many different makes of the badge. While some collectors see these as fake, they’re just from different manufacturers.

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Bonnet and Glengarry badge for the RCAF Pipes and Drums

The badge for the Royal Military College pipes and drums was developed along the same style as the base badge.

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Pipes and Drums of the Royal Military Collage of Canada

In closing, although liberties existed throughout the CAF in the design and adoption of badges for the Pipes and Drums these can also be viewed as legitimate and authorized by Base Commanders.

Sgt Mark Passmore is a Regular Force (RCAF) Highland Musician and currently serving in the trade at CFLTC Music Division CFB Borden. He is an accomplished musician and an advanced collector of Highland cap badges.

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In Support of Games: Canadian Army Identification and the Pan-Am Games 1967

© Bill Alexander 2016

The Canadian Forces have frequently been required to assist in emergencies, natural disasters or special events. Most short term call outs in response to emergencies and disasters are not marked by any special insignia. Other situations, such as peace-keeping, aid to the civil power or aid in support of special events have necessitated unique identification for the duration of the deployment. Distinct insignia may range from special head dress and cap badges through shoulder titles, patches, armlets or brassards. These insignia worn for short durations of the tasking serve the purpose of identifying the personnel and their role in each particular deployment.

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The official logo for the Pan-American Games. (Wikipedia)

In 1967, Canada’s Centennial was marked by a whole range of celebrations and special events across the nation. In the west, Winnipeg hosted the Pan-American Games, the athletic competition for nations of the Western Hemisphere. With large numbers of athletes and spectators attending this international event, the Canadian Forces was tasked with specific support, security and administrative duties. Preparations for the tasking were initiated in late fall of 1966.The main component of the armed forces contribution was to come from 3 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (3 RCHA), stationed at Shilo. Concerns were immediately raised about distinguishing the Pan-am military personnel from other military personnel in the area of the games.

After consultations with Lt.-Col. Harber, the Canadian army observer at the Innsbruck Olympic Games, the commanding officer of 3 RCHA, Lt.-Col. J.E.G. de Domenico offered suggestions to address the problem. He concluded that the civilian organizers would need some method of clearly recognizing the military personnel assigned to support the games. Additionally, experience with civilians during flood emergencies revealed that the public was not aware of the rank structure of the military and often were confused about which personnel were in positions of authority. Some method of identifying those in positions of authority was needed. Domenico proposed some alternatives:

The most practical and economical solution to this problem is for all members of the Pan Am Force to wear a beret, and for officers/Sr NCOs in charge of specific tasks to wear an armband when it is necessary for their authoritative position to be easily recognizable. The Pan Am Society seems to have adopted red as its official colour. Hence the berets should be red and the armbands be of white cloth with the Society symbol stamped or embroidered on it. Allowing for sizing approximately 2000 berets and about 200 armbands would be required.[1]

It was quickly pointed out that infantry regiments (except rifles and light infantry) and their affiliated cadet corps wore the scarlet beret. As a method of identification, the red beret was not suitable. Instead, it was suggested that an armband could be designed for the entire contingent, with some appropriate markings added to denote positions of authority.

Referred to Canadian Forces Headquarters, it was agreed that the beret would not be appropriate. The question of the armband was received favourably, with requests for the design to be submitted to the Directorate of Ceremonial. A design was prepared and forwarded through channels, but the purpose was significantly altered. Instead of being the Pan Am Force identifier, the proposed armband would be used to specifically identify officers or NCOs in command of groups or on certain official duties.

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Brassard design as approved for the Pan Am Force. LAC RG 24 Box 8 File 5250-4 Vol. 1 Service Personnel Dress Instructions: Wearing of Uniforms at Ceremonies and Celebrations.

The Pan-Am Force armband was officially described as:

A white armband enfaced with the Pan-Am crest in red, dimensions to be 3 ½” x 17” fastened by the means of Vilok. The symbol of the Society to be stamped or embroidered on the armband in red.[2]

The authorization also noted that 200 brassards were to be provided, only to be worn by personnel in positions of authority. It was cautioned that the brassards should not be worn in a manner that obscured senior NCO rank badges.

In late April a contract for the armbands was let; on May 31st the order of 200 armbands was forwarded to 3 RCHA. The armbands were worn to distinguish the personnel in positions of authority for the duration of the tasking. The unique distinguishing brassard established a precedent for similar insignia to be employed in future taskings.


Notes

[1] de Domenico J.E.G. Lt.-Col. 3 RCHA, Letter, Pan Am Force, Distinguishing Marks, November 3, 1966. LAC RG 24 Box 8, File 5250-4 Vol. 1 Service Personnel Dress Instructions: Wearing of Uniforms at Ceremonies and Celebrations. Marking of vehicles was also addressed. It was noted that all the vehicles involved were marked with Mobile Command signs. It was felt this would suffice, but if necessary an additional markings could be added.

[2] Watson R.C. Air Commodore DGA, Memorandum DND Support – PAN AM GAMES 1967 DISTINGUISHING ARM BANDS April 20, 1967. And, N.A. Buckingham Lt.-Col. Director of Ceremonial, Letter, DND Support – PAN AM GAMES 1967, DISTINGUISHING ARMBAND. LAC RG 24 Box 8, File 5250-4 Vol. 1 Service Personnel Dress Instructions: Wearing of Uniforms at Ceremonies and Celebrations. Vilok fastenings were not explained and may have been an early type of velcro.

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The Churchill Mark III infantry tank in service with the Canadian Army Overseas, 1942-43

by Mark W. Tonner

Introduction

This article is the third in a series of articles on the various ‘Marks’ of the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22), which saw service with the Canadian Army Overseas between 1941 and 1943. The earlier articles being “The Churchill Mark I infantry tank in service with the Canadian Army Overseas, 1941-43” of August 28, 2015, and “The Churchill Mark II infantry tank in service with the Canadian Army Overseas, 1941-43” of September 7, 2015.

The Churchill Mark III was the third ‘Mark’ (the term (‘Mark’) used to designate different versions of equipment) of the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22), which was an ‘Infantry Tank’ specifically designed for fighting in support of infantry operations. The Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22) was the fourth in the family of infantry tanks that had been developed by the British, and was designed by Vauxhall Motors Limited of Luton, Bedfordshire, England, who also acted as parent to a group of companies charged with the tanks production. Approximately 52 Churchill Mark III tanks saw service with the Canadian Army Overseas, with the units of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade being the main Canadian user of Churchill infantry tanks. Between July 1941 and May 1943, the brigade was equipped with Churchill Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV tanks.

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In the foreground, a Churchill Mark III of 13 Troop, “C” Squadron, The Calgary Regiment, on a regimental parade in June 1942. Source: MilArt photo archives

The British development of the Churchill Mark III

When the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22), was initially designed and went into production, it had been agreed that the 2-pounder gun mounted in the turret would be replaced by a 6-pounder gun when it became available. According to the British War Office policy of up-gunning cruiser and infantry tanks, the Churchill Mark III, which began coming off the production line in March 1942, was the first ‘Mark’ of the Churchill to mount the 6-pounder gun as its main armament, as opposed to the 2-pounder gun with which both the Churchill Mark I and Mark II had been equipped with. Also, this version standardized the Churchill’s secondary armament as one coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the turret, and another Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the front hull plate beside the driver.

A brief description of the Churchill Mark III

The Churchill Mark III (like the Churchill Mark I and Mark II) had 102-millimetre thick armour (with a minimum thickness of 16-millimetres), making it one of the most heavily protected tanks built to that time. It weighed approximately 39-tons, and was 7.7-metres in length, by 3.3-metres in width, and stood at a height of 2.5-metres. It was powered by a 350-brake horsepower, 12-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine, which could produce a road speed of 25-kilometres per hour and a cross-country speed of 13-kilometres per hour. It had an onboard fuel capacity of 682-litres, carried in six interconnected fuel tanks, three each side, located within the engine compartment, and also had an auxiliary fuel tank mounted on the outside rear hull, which carried an additional 148-litres. This auxiliary tank was connected to the main fuel system, but could be jettisoned from the tank in an emergency. This gave the Churchill Mark III a total fuel capacity of 830-litres allowing for a cruising range of 145 to 201-kilometres.

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A reworked Churchill Mark III of 11 Troop, “C” Squadron, The Calgary Regiment, seen during combined operations training in January 1943. Note the driver’s large vision aperture. Source: MilArt photo archives

The Churchill Mark III had a 6-pounder gun (capable of penetrating 81-millimetres of armour at 457-metres) and a coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the turret, along with a 51-millimetre smoke bomb thrower (Mark I) mounted in the turret roof, and a second Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the hull front plate alongside the driver. The 6-pounder gun had an elevation of minus 12.5-degrees to plus 20-degrees. The Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the hull front plate, suffered from the same restricted traverse as that of the 3-inch howitzer mounted in the hull front plate of the Churchill Mark I, and the Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the hull front plate of the Churchill Mark II, due to the width of the hull between the horns. It had a crew of five (a commander, a gun layer, a loader/(radio) operator, a driver, a co-driver/hull gunner) men, all of whom was cross-trained. The hull was divided into four compartments. At the front, the driving compartment also housed the gunner for the Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the front hull plate. Behind that was the fighting compartment containing the electrically-operated three-man (commander, gun layer, and the loader/(radio) operator) turret. Further to the rear was the engine compartment, followed by the rear compartment housing the gearbox, main and steering brakes, an air compressor, auxiliary battery charging set, and a turret power traverse generator. The hull was constructed of flat steel plates connected together with heavy steel angle irons, with rivets being used to secure the plates to the angle irons. The floor was flat and free from projections, and panniers were provided at each side between the upper and lower runs of the track for storage of equipment. The construction of the panniers was described as a double box girder, because each pannier formed a rectangular structure on each side of the hull, which created a hull of immense strength. The whole hull structure was suitably braced by cross girders and by the bulkheads that separated the various compartments.

The large square door (escape hatch) provided in each pannier just behind the driver and hull gunner positions was an unusual provision for British armoured fighting vehicles of this period, but was also very welcome by crews. Many a crewman who served as a driver or hull gunner on a Churchill is alive today because of these pannier doors. These doors could be opened or closed only from the inside, but the locking handles were designed so that the doors were automatically secured when they were closed. Each of these doors was provided with a circular pistol port, and two pistol ports were also provided in the turret. Double-hinged doors were provided in the hull roof above the driver and front gunner. They were normally operated from inside, but could be opened or secured from the outside by using a suitable key.

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An unidentified Churchill Mark III of The Three Rivers Regiment, photographed during training with other Churchill tanks of the regiment. Source: MilArt photo archives

The newly designed turret of the Churchill Mark III (to fit the 6-pounder gun) was of welded bullet proof steel plate construction, as opposed to the one piece bullet proof steel cast turret of the Churchill Mark I and Mark II. The turret could be controlled electrically when the engine was running, or it could be rotated by hand when the engine was stopped. When controlled electrically, the turret could be rotated at a fast speed of 360-degrees in 15 seconds, or at slow speed in 24 seconds. A cupola that could be rotated by hand independently of the turret was mounted in the turret roof for the use of the tank commander, which was rotatable by hand independently of the turret. A large hatch, closed by steel doors, was provided for the loader and gunner. A No. 19 wireless set (radio) was housed in the turret. This 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.

For optics and viewing, the driver was provided with a large vision aperture, which could be reduced to a small port protected with very thick glass. When necessary, this small port could also be closed. The driver and hull gunner both had periscopes, and there were two other periscopes mounted in the front of the turret for the loader and gunner. The commander’s cupola was fitted with two periscopes. A Churchill tank driver’s vision was more restricted than on other tanks, because the driving compartment was set back so far from the forward track horns. Churchill drivers could see ahead, but could see very little on either side of the vehicle, and they relied on the tank commander to warn them of obstacles.

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In the foreground, a newly issued (evidenced by the absence of the air intake louvre) reworked Churchill Mark III of The Calgary Regiment, on a regimental parade in June 1942. Source: MilArt photo archives

As with the Churchill Mark I and Mark II, there was adequate provision for stowage of ammunition and equipment, with the Churchill Mark III able to accommodate 85 rounds of 6-pounder ammunition, 6,975 rounds of 7.92-millimetre ammunition (in 31 belts of 225 rounds each), and 30 smoke bombs. Additionally, each tank also carried one .303-inch Bren (Mark I or Mark II) light machine gun with an anti-aircraft mounting and six 100-round drum type magazines, two .45 calibre Thompson sub-machine guns with 21, 20-round box type magazines each, 12 hand grenades, and one Signal Pistol, No. 1, Mark III (or Mark IV), with twelve cartridges (four red, four green, four white). Designated stowage locations for vehicle tools, spare parts, and equipment, and the crew’s personnel equipment, were also provided.

Churchill Mark III tanks produced before May 1942 retained the original type of air intakes (louvres) on the side of the hull and fully exposed tracks, but those produced from May 1942 onwards had modified and improved air intakes (louvres) and track guards fitted. The distinctive welded turret for the 6-pounder on the Churchill Mark III greatly altered the external appearance of the Churchill tank.

The Churchill Mark III in Canadian service

The Churchill Mark III entered service with the Canadian Army Overseas in April 1942, when on 5 April, No. 1 Sub Depot of No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (who handled all receipts and issues in the United Kingdom of Churchill tanks for the Canadian Army Overseas), began receiving Churchill Mark III tanks from the British. No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot began to issue this latest version of the Churchill tank (which were either new or reworked Mark III tanks) in exchange for Churchill Mark I and Mark II tanks to units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, on 15 April 1942. At this time, the brigade consisted of Headquarters, 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, Canadian Armoured Corps, the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade Headquarters Squadron (The New Brunswick Regiment (Tank)), Canadian Armoured Corps, the 11th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Ontario Regiment (Tank)), Canadian Armoured Corps, the 12th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Three Rivers Regiment (Tank)), Canadian Armoured Corps, and the 14th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Calgary Regiment (Tank)), Canadian Armoured Corps. On 15 May 1942, the three tank battalions of the brigade were redesignated tank regiments. By the end of June 1942, 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade held 47 6-pounder-armed Churchill Mark III tanks, with the Ontario Regiment holding six (all new), the Three Rivers Regiment with three (all new), and the Calgary Regiment with 38 (26 of which were reworked).

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A Churchill Mark III of 7 Troop, “B” Squadron, The Three Rivers Regiment, which clearly shows the distinctive welded turret of the Churchill Mark III. Source: MilArt photo archives

By the time of Operation Jubilee, the ill-fated combined operations raid carried out against the port of Dieppe, France, on 19 August 1942, the Calgary Regiment held 37 Churchill Mark III tanks (26 of which were reworked). Of these 37 Mark III tanks, 18 (12 of which were reworked) were lost at Dieppe, 12 while serving with “B” Squadron, and six with “C” Squadron. The 19 remaining Churchill Mark III tanks serving with “A” Squadron returned to England, with the squadron not having landed. It would not be until 23 October 1942, that these losses to the Calgary Regiment would be replaced. Although not part of this story, three Churchill Mark III tanks (one with “C Squadron, and two with “B” Squadron) which were fitted with a rudimentary apparatus (called a “Carpet Laying Device”) for forming a track way carried on a bobbin on the front of their hulls, were also lost at Dieppe. For more information on these three tanks, please see the MilArt article “Tank-based Devices used by the Calgary Regiment at Dieppe, on 19 August 1942” (of November 10, 2013).

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A reworked Churchill Mark III of 6 Troop “B” Squadron, The Calgary Regiment, immobilized with her left track broken by enemy fire on the Promenade at Dieppe. Source: MilArt photo archives

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A reworked Churchill Mark III of 10 Troop “B” Squadron, The Calgary Regiment, immobilized on the beach at Dieppe. Source: MilArt photo archives

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A Churchill Mark III of 10 Troop “B” Squadron, The Calgary Regiment, on the beach at Dieppe. Source: MilArt photo archives.

As of 5 November 1942, the Canadian Army Overseas held a total of 33 Churchill Mark III tanks, all of which were on charge of the three army tank regiments of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade. Starting in December 1942, with the Ontario Regiment, and continuing through the first three months of 1943, the army tank regiments of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade began to be issued with the Churchill Mark IV tank, while the older Churchill Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III tanks, which had covered many miles and were generally in very poor condition, were withdrawn from service with the brigade. By 5 January 1943, 31 Churchill Mark III tanks were held within the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, with the Ontario Regiment holding one, the Three Rivers Regiment six, and the Calgary Regiment holding 24 (10 of which were reworked). One month later, on 3 February, 22 Churchill Mark III tanks were held within the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, with the Ontario Regiment holding one, the Three Rivers Regiment three, and the Calgary Regiment holding 18 (14 of which were reworked). Also, at this time, another 11 Churchill Mark III tanks were held as stock by No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, but were subsequently issued to units of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade. As of 1 March 1943, a total of 21 Churchill Mark III tanks was held by units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, with the Ontario Regiment holding one (reworked), the Three Rivers Regiment three, and the Calgary Regiment holding 17 (13 of which were reworked), while the brigade’s remaining 12 Churchill Mark III tanks, were at No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Workshop, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, located at Bordon Camp, Hampshire, undergoing various degrees of repair.

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A reworked Churchill Mark III of 14 Troop “C” Squadron, The Calgary Regiment, shown about to reverse up the ramp of a Landing Craft Tank during combined operations training in January 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives.

By the beginning of March 1943, the British War Office intended that 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade should retain their Churchill Mark IIIR (reworked) and Mark IV tanks, and also keep their Churchill Mark IR (reworked) tanks as close support tanks, but this never happened. By 19 March 1943, the Canadian Army had decided to immediately re-equip 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade with the Canadian-built Cruiser Tank, Ram Mark II for their Churchill tanks on a one-for-one basis. Starting on 22 March 1943, the Churchill Mark III (along with the other Marks of the Churchill tank) began to be withdrawn from units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, with the Calgary Regiment turning in eight (five of which were reworked) Churchill Mark III tanks to No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, for return to the British. This was followed on 29 March 1943, with the Three Rivers Regiment turning their three Churchill Mark III tanks, and the Calgary Regiment their remaining nine (eight of which were reworked). Earlier, on 19 March 1943, before the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade began to re-equip with Ram Mk II tanks, “B” Squadron of the Ontario Regiment with eighteen Churchill tanks (one of which was a Mark III) was sent to the British School of Infantry at Catterick, North Yorkshire, to assist in training infantry for a period of two months. These tanks were operated by Ontario Regiment crews on a rotational basis until 11 May 1943, when they were handed over to the British 148th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, at Catterick, and struck-off-change of the Canadian Army Overseas.

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A Churchill Mark III of Regimental Headquarters, The Three Rivers Regiment, photographed on Exercise Spartan, in March 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives.

By 12 April 1943, all Churchill Mark III tanks (except for the one with the Ontario Regiment squadron at the British School of Infantry, Catterick, North Yorkshire) had been struck-off-charge of the Canadian Army Overseas, and returned to the British through No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps. In all, between 5 April 1942 and 29 March 1943, approximately 52 Churchill Mark III tanks (of which 27 were reworked Mark III tanks) saw service with the Canadian Army Overseas.

More information on the Churchill Mark IIIs which served with the Canadian Army Overseas can be found at Ram Tank under the Churchill Registry heading.


 

Acknowledgements:

The author wishes to thank Clive M. Law, for providing photos from the MilArt photo archives, and for publishing this article. Any errors or omissions, is entirely the fault of the author.

Bibliography:

Churchill III and IV Instruction Book, T.S. 182, First Edition, July, 1942 (Chilwell Catalogue No. 62/426)(with Amendment No. 1 (October, 1942), Amendment No. 3 (November, 1942), Amendment No. 4 (February, 1943), Amendment No. 6 (August, 1943) and Amendment No. 8 (December, 1943)).

Tonner, Mark W., The Churchill in Canadian Service (Canadian Weapons of War Series), 2010, Service Publications; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-894581-67-7.

Tonner, Mark W., The Churchill Tank and the Canadian Armoured Corps, (Canadian Weapons of War Series), 2011, Service Publications; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-894581-66-0.

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The Churchill Mark II Infantry Tank in Service with the Canadian Army Overseas, 1941-43

by Mark W. Tonner

Introduction

This article is a follow-up to my earlier article “The Churchill Mark I infantry tank in service with the Canadian Army Overseas, 1941-43,” of August 28, 2015.

The Churchill Mark II was the second ‘Mark’ (the term ‘Mark’ used to designate different versions of equipment) of the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22), which was an ‘Infantry Tank’ specifically designed for fighting in support of infantry operations. The Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22) was the fourth in the family of infantry tanks that had been developed by the British, and was designed by Vauxhall Motors Limited of Luton, Bedfordshire, England, who also acted as parent to a group of companies charged with the tanks production. Approximately 182 Churchill Mark II tanks saw service with the Canadian Army Overseas, with the units of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade being the main Canadian user of Churchill infantry tanks. Between July 1941 and May 1943, the brigade was equipped with the Churchill Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV.

A Churchill Mark II of the Ontario Regiment on a field training exercise somewhere in England. Source: MilArt photo archives

A Churchill Mark II of the Ontario Regiment on a field training exercise somewhere in England. Source: MilArt photo archives

The British development of the Churchill Mark II

The original Churchill Mark II tank was to have been a Close Support tank, bearing the designation Churchill Mark II Close Support, which was based on the Churchill Mark I (which had a 3-inch howitzer mounted in the front hull plate next to the driver, and a 2-pounder and a coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the turret), but with a 3-inch howitzer and a coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the turret, and a 2-pounder mounted in the front hull plate. However, because of production delays, deliveries of 3-inch howitzers had fallen behind schedule, causing delays in Vauxhall Motors’ production of Churchill Mark I and Churchill Mark II Close Support tanks. This delay led to the decision being taken of mounting a second Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun into the front hull plate, in lieu of the 3-inch howitzer, on in production Churchill Mark Is, which was followed shortly afterwards by the decision to cancel production of Churchill Mark II Close Support tanks (with only a few having been produced), so that when supplies of 3-inch howitzers became available, they could be mounted in Churchill Mark Is. While the delays in deliveries of 3-inch howitzers continued, and production of Churchill tanks continued, those with a 2-pounder gun and a coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the turret, and a second Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the front hull plate, were now designated the Churchill Mark II.

The Churchill Mark II was designed and built to the same specifications as the Churchill Mark I, except for the mounting of a second Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun in the front hull plate, in lieu of the 3-inch howitzer. Because it was built to the same specifications as the Churchill Mark I, and since issue of the first production models of the Churchill to units was to begin in June 1941, the Churchill Mark II suffered the same “teething troubles” as the Churchill Mark I, and was subject to the rework programme later carried out to correct some of the tank’s more glaring faults. Under this rework programme (starting for Canadian units in the spring of 1942) many Churchill Mark I and Mark II tanks were brought up to the standard of the Churchill Mark III (which Canadian units also started to receive in the spring of 1942) by having their tracks fully covered, their hull side engine air intakes changed to top opening to prevent engine flooding when wading (and so that deep wading, trunks could be fitted to the top of the air intake louvres), fitting strengthening plates in the front horns.

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Note the placement of the second Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun in the front hull plate of this Canadian crewed Churchill Mark II. Source: MilArt photo archives

A brief description of the Churchill Mark II

The Churchill Mark II (like the Churchill Mark I) had 102-millimetre thick armour (with a minimum thickness of 16-millimetres), making it one of the most heavily protected tanks built to that time. It weighed approximately 39-tons, and was 7.4-metres in length, by 3.3-metres in width, and stood at a height of 3.8-metres. It was powered by a 350-brake horsepower, 12-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine, which could produce a road speed of 25-kilometres per hour and a cross-country speed of 13-kilometres per hour. It had an onboard fuel capacity of 682-litres, carried in six interconnected fuel tanks, three each side, located within the engine compartment, and also had an auxiliary fuel tank mounted on the outside rear hull, which carried an additional 148-litres. This auxiliary tank was connected to the main fuel system, but could be jettisoned from the tank in an emergency. This gave the Churchill Mark II a total fuel capacity of 830-litres allowing for a cruising range of 145 to 201-kilometres.

The Churchill Mark II had a 2-pounder gun (capable of penetrating 57-millimetres of armour at 457-metres) and a coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the turret, along with a 51-millimetre smoke bomb thrower mounted in the turret roof, and a second Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the hull front plate alongside the driver. The 2-pounder gun had an elevation of minus 15-degrees to plus 20-degrees. The Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun mounted in the hull front plate, suffered from the same restricted traverse as that of the 3-inch howitzer mounted in the hull front plate of the Churchill Mark I, due to the width of the hull between the horns. It had a crew of five (a commander, a gun layer, a loader/(radio) operator, a driver, a co-driver/hull gunner) men, all of whom was cross-trained. The hull layout, turret, and the optics provided for the crew, were exactly the same as that of the Churchill Mark I. A No. 19 wireless set (radio) was also housed in the turret of the Churchill Mark II, which 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.

As with the Churchill Mark I, there was adequate provision for stowage of ammunition and equipment, with the Churchill Mark II able to accommodate the stowage of 150 rounds of 2-pounder ammunition, 9,675 rounds of 7.92-millimetre ammunition (in 43 belts of 225 rounds each), and 25 smoke bombs. Additionally, each tank also carried one .303-inch Bren (Mark I) light machine gun with an anti-aircraft mounting and six 100-round drum type magazines, two .45 calibre Thompson sub-machine guns with six 50-round drum type and ten 20-round box type magazines each, and one Signal Pistol, No. 1, Mark III, with twelve cartridges (four red, four green, four white). Designated stowage locations for vehicle tools, spare parts, and equipment, and the crew’s personnel equipment, were also provided.

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Note the Bren light machine gun in its anti-aircraft mounting on the turret roof of this Canadian crewed Churchill Mark II. Source: MilArt photo archives

The Churchill Mark II in Canadian service

The Churchill Mark II entered service with the Canadian Army Overseas on 10 July 1941, when No. 1 Sub Depot of No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, located at Bordon Camp, Hampshire, England, began to receive Churchill Mark II tanks straight from the Vauxhall Motors production line. These, in turn, on the same day, were issued to the 11th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Ontario Regiment (Tank)) of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade.

Prior to arriving in the United Kingdom at the end of June 1941, and before leaving Canada, the three army tank battalions (later renamed army tank regiments on 15 May 1942) of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade (which was the first formation of the Canadian Armoured Corps sent overseas), were to have been equipped with the Canadian-built Infantry Tank Mark III, Valentine. However, because of delays in Canadian tank production, the British War Office was asked to lend tanks to the incoming brigade. These would be replaced with Canadian-built tanks when Canadian production problems were overcome. With the support of the British Army’s Commander of the Royal Armoured Corps, this endeavour was successful, and immediately upon arrival in the United Kingdom, 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade was able to draw equipment on a respectable training scale. Under these arrangements with the British, the 11th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Ontario Regiment (Tank)) was to be equipped with Churchill tanks, while the 12th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Three Rivers Regiment (Tank)), and 14th Canadian Army Tank Battalions (The Calgary Regiment (Tank)), was to be equipped with the Infantry Tank Mark II, Matilda II (A12), until such time as more Churchill tanks became available. By 9 August 1941, the Ontario Regiment held 12 Churchill Mark II tanks, which grew to a total of 19 by September.

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A Churchill Mark II of the Ontario Regiment shown here shortly after it was issued on 18 July 1941. Source: MilArt photo archives

Because the Churchill Mark II was a brand-new type, the Ontario Regiment’s work included experimentation and tank trials as well as training for the tank crews. A representative of Vauxhall Motors Limited, was seconded to Headquarters 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade to record and report on the tank’s performance. The history of the regiment for this period states that they had constant problems with the mechanically unreliable early-model Churchill tanks, which were described as “having bugs in their guts.” With the Churchill tank having gone straight from the drawing board to production, this was natural and, indeed, expected. Nevertheless, the officer commanding 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade had faith in the merits of the Churchill tank and requested that his entire brigade be equipped with it, to which the British War Office readily agreed. The crews provided the Vauxhall representative with a steady stream of information, which in turn sent was back to Vauxhall Motors. This led to continual modifications and improvements to the tank. By 1 November 1941, the Ontario Regiment held 44 Churchill Mark II tanks, eight tanks shy of its total infantry tank strength of 52, as authorized under the War Establishment of a Canadian Army Tank Battalion.

At this time, a Canadian army tank battalion was organized, equipped, and manned, as per the War Establishment of a Canadian Army Tank Battalion (Cdn III/1940/33A/1) of 11th February 1941. The war establishment was a document that specified the organization of a unit, and its authorized entitlement for personnel, vehicles, and weapons. The document was updated whenever the unit was reorganized or they received new equipment. Under War Establishment (Cdn III/1940/33A/1), a Canadian army tank battalion included a battalion headquarters, headquarters squadron, and three tank squadrons. The battalion headquarters included four cruiser or infantry close support tanks. The headquarters squadron had a squadron headquarters, an intercommunication troop with nine scout cars, and an administrative troop. Each of the three tank squadrons had a squadron headquarters and five tank troops, each with three infantry tanks. The squadron headquarters had three tanks: one cruiser or infantry tank, and two cruiser or infantry close support tanks (the role in which the Churchill Mark I was employed). In all, each Canadian army tank battalion, was entitled to an overall tank strength of 58 tanks, 45 of which were infantry tanks.

image 5 (DSC00511)

A Churchill Mark II of the Three Rivers Regiment fording a stream during a field training exercise in March 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives

On 6 November 1941, both the Three Rivers Regiment and Calgary Regiment began to be issued with the Churchill Mark II. By 30 November, the Three Rivers Regiment held six Churchill Mark II tanks and the Calgary Regiment held 19. As of 31 December, the Three Rivers Regiment held 42 Churchill Mark II tanks and the Calgary Regiment held 30. By 31 January 1942, 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade held a total of 143 Churchill Mark II tanks, with the Ontario Regiment holding 58, the Three Rivers Regiment holding 50, and the Calgary Regiment with 35.

Beginning in April 1942, Canadian-held Churchill Mark II tanks started to be withdrawn in exchange for Churchill Mark III tanks, which was followed on 30 May 1942, by the start of the withdrawal of Mark II tanks under the previously mentioned rework programme. Under the rework programme, these tanks were returned to the British Army’s Chilwell Mechanical Transport Sub-Depot, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, located at Vauxhall Motors in Luton, Bedfordshire, England. There, once all tank stores and wireless (radio) equipments were accounted for, the tank was struck off charge of the Canadian Army Overseas. New or reworked Churchill Mark II (or Mark III) tanks were in turn issued to the Canadian Army Overseas through No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, to replace those that had been turned in. Like the Churchill Mark II, not all of the Churchill Mark II tanks operated by units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade had to be reworked. In July 1942, Canadian Military Headquarters (London, England) issued a list of tanks, that were not affected by the rework programme.

A reworked Churchill Mark II of the Calgary Regiment on a field training exercise in March 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives

A reworked Churchill Mark II of the Calgary Regiment on a field training exercise in March 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives

By the time of Operation Jubilee, the ill-fated combined operations raid carried out against the port of Dieppe, France, on 19 August 1942, the Calgary Regiment, held 15 Churchill Mark II tanks (six of which had been reworked), all of which had been issued to the regiment between 13 and 20 June, to replace thirteen Churchill Mark II tanks withdrawn under the rework programme. Of these 15 tanks, four were lost at Dieppe, one while serving with “B” squadron headquarters, two that were serving with regimental headquarters, and one serving with No. 15 Troop of “C” squadron. One Churchill Mark II serving with regimental headquarters (which did not land), along with the remaining ten Mark II tanks serving with “A” squadron returned to England, with the squadron not having landed. It would not be until 23 October 1942, that these losses to the Calgary Regiment would be replaced. Although not part of this story, three Churchill Mark II (Special) tanks (equipped with the Oke flame-throwing system), that had been taken on charge of the Calgary regiment on 20 June 1942, were also lost at Dieppe, while serving with No. 8 Troop of “B” squadron. For more information on these three tanks, please see Tank-based Devices used by the Calgary Regiment at Dieppe, on 19 August 1942 

As of 5 November 1942, a total of 127 Churchill Mark II tanks was held by units of the Canadian Army Overseas, in the United Kingdom. Of these 127 Mark II tanks, units of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade held a total of 106, while ten were held between No. 1 Canadian Ordnance Reinforcement Unit, No. 2 Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit, and No. 3 Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit, and eleven (one of which was a reworked tank) were held as stock by No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps. The Churchill Mark II tanks held by No. 1 Canadian Ordnance Reinforcement Unit, were used for the training of craftsmen (mechanics) of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps on maintaining the tanks. Those held by Numbers 2, and 3 Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Units, were used for the training of tank crew reinforcements for the tank regiments of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade.

image 7 (Bild 101I-362-2211-10)

A knocked out Churchill Mark II of Regimental Headquarters, The Calgary Regiment at Dieppe. Source: Authors’ image file

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Two Churchill Mark II tanks of “B” Squadron, The Ontario Regiment on a field training exercise in the fall of 1942. Source: MilArt photo archives

On 10 November 1942, Canadian Military Headquarters (London) informed No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot that 72 “new” Churchill tanks (12 Mark IR (reworked) and 60 Mark IV) were being released for issue to the Canadian Army in the United Kingdom. As these 72 tanks were issued, the Ontario and Calgary Regiments, between them, were to return eight Churchill Mark I and 64 Churchill Mark II tanks to Ordnance for either rework or issue to training units and schools within the United Kingdom. As of 5 January 1943, a total of 76 Churchill Mark II tanks was held by units of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade. The Ontario Regiment held 15, the Three Rivers Regiment held 38, and the Calgary Regiment held the remaining 23. Also at this time, No. 1 Canadian Ordnance Reinforcement Unit held seven Churchill Mark II tanks, while No. 2 Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit, and No. 3 Canadian Armoured Corps Reinforcement Unit held three apiece.

image 9 (DSC00128)

A Churchill Mark II of “B” Squadron, The Three Rivers Regiment crossing a river ford during a field training exercise in 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives

By the beginning of March 1943, the British War Office intended that 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade should retain their Churchill Mark IIIR (reworked) and Mark IV tanks, and also keep their Churchill Mark IR (reworked) tanks as close support tanks. As of 1 March 1943, a total of 38 Churchill Mark II tanks was held by units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, with Three Rivers Regiment holding 17, and the Calgary Regiment holding 21 (four of which were reworked). The War Office would try to exchange the brigade’s Churchill Mark II, Mark IIR (reworked) and Mark III tanks with Churchill Mark IIIR (reworked) and Mark IV tanks. This never happened. By 19 March 1943, the Canadian Army had decided to immediately re-equip 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade with the Canadian-built Cruiser Tank, Ram Mark II for their Churchill tanks on a one-for-one basis. Starting on 22 March 1943, the Churchill Mark II (along with the other Marks of the Churchill tank) began to be withdrawn from units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, with the Calgary Regiment turning in 18 of their 21 Churchill Mark II tanks to No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot. This was followed on 29 March 1943, with the Three Rivers Regiment turning in their 17 Churchill Mark II tanks, and the Calgary Regiment their remaining three. By 12 April 1943, all Churchill Mark II tanks had been withdrawn from Canadian units in the United Kingdom and returned to the British. In all, between 10 July 1941 and 29 March 1943, approximately 182 Churchill Mark II tanks saw service with the Canadian Army Overseas, of which seven were reworked Churchill Mark II tanks.

A Churchill Mark II of “A” Squadron, The Three Rivers Regiment on a field training exercise in 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives

A Churchill Mark II of “A” Squadron, The Three Rivers Regiment on a field training exercise in 1943. Source: MilArt photo archives

More information on the Churchill Mark IIs which served with the Canadian Army Overseas can be found at RamTank.ca under the Churchill Registry heading.


Acknowledgements:

The author wishes to thank Clive M. Law, for providing photos from the MilArt photo archives, and for publishing this article.

Any errors or omissions, is entirely the fault of the author.

Bibliography:

Tank, Infantry, Mark IV Instruction Book. T.S. 149, May, 1941(Churchill I and II Instruction Book)(Chilwell Catalogue No. 62/308)(with Amendment Sheet No. 2, Issued October, 1941).

Tonner, Mark W., The Churchill in Canadian Service (Canadian Weapons of War Series), 2010, Service Publications; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-894581-67-7,

— The Churchill Tank and the Canadian Armoured Corps, 2011, Service Publications; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-894581-66-0.

Cashiers’ Tapes: Cloth Insignia of the Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps 1940 – 1968

by Bill Alexander

Napoleon’s adage, an army marches on its stomach, took on new meaning in the 20th century. In addition to rations, having a few dollars in soldiers’ pockets was essential to the well being and efficiency of the army. Managing the pay and allowances for army personnel was the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps (R.C.A.P.C.). The Corps was authorized in 1907, and granted the Royal designation for service in the First World War. Responsibilities included the administration of pay for personnel both overseas and in Canada during the Second World War. In the post-war army the RCAPC continued with these duties, for both the reserves and the regular army, in Canada and on deployments.

The R.C.A.P.C. was unique among army corps. Purely administrative in nature, it provided the Chief Paymaster, Command Pay Offices, Paymasters Canadian Troops, field cash offices, and unit paymasters overseas, and pay services for base units, formations and units in Canada. Similar duties continued after the war, with the R.C.A.P.C. providing pay services for the regular army and reserves. With a small establishment spread throughout the army, the need for Corps insignia was essential. Unique titles and formation signs were authorized to identify R.C.A.P.C. personnel and foster Corps esprit.[1]

Personnel of the R.C.A.P.C. had proceeded overseas with 1 Canadian Division in 1939, and as the overseas Canadian contingent expanded, the number of Pay Corps personnel grew. In the fall of 1940, the decision to adopt cloth insignia for the Canadian army overseas immediately affected the Pay Corps. Routine Order 450 1 (c) stipulated that “Corps Troops (other than MG battalions) – (wear a) Diamond in colours of respective Corps and Services”. The routine order continued:

2. Embroidered titles- Embroidered unit titles whether in full or in authorized abbreviations will be worn as follows:

a. personnel of Corps and Services-

i. at the base of the shoulder strap

ii. or superimposed on the Divisional or Corps Patches – Authorized abbreviations only.

iii. or at the top of the sleeve

3. Unit Designations (Corps and Services)

The wearing of designations to indicate a particular unit of Corps and Services is optional.   If adopted they will be worn:

a. at the base of the shoulder strap

b. or at the top of the sleeve

And may be incorporated with or be separate from the titles indicated in paragraph 1 (a) above. [2]

Finally, Paragraph 7, RO 450 required that “The methods and or designs adopted in respect of paragraphs 1 (a), 2 (a), 3, 5, and 6 above will be uniform in each Corps and Service throughout the several divisions and Canadian Corps Troops”. These were all subject to the approval of the Senior Combatant Officer. With these directions, the Canadian Army (Overseas) initiated the procurement of embroidered cloth insignia for unit and formation identification.

The overseas contingents of the R.C.A.P.C. adopted a coloured shoulder title made in an upwards arc, embroidered with the Corps abbreviation “R.C.A.P.C.” in primrose yellow on blue. The lettering was stipulated to be ½ inch high. Official authorization for these titles has not been located, but the firm of Hobson and Sons indicate they had filled orders for R.C.A.P.C. titles in 1941. Samples were requested by Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) for reference and sealing in 1942. When the Canadian Army (Overseas) switched to printed titles in 1943, a printed R.C.A.P.C. title copied from the embroidered pattern was contracted. These were to be worn in combination with plain formation patches.[3]

Capt. J.R. Wait, Adj. P.M.C.T. Det. R.C.A.P.C. United Kingdom, January 1942. Canadian Military Photo.

Capt. J.R. Wait, Adj. P.M.C.T. Det. R.C.A.P.C. United Kingdom, January 1942. Canadian Military Photo.

Accounts Department CMHQ January 1942. Canadian Military Photo.

Accounts Department CMHQ January 1942. Canadian Military Photo.

In Canada, a different policy for cloth insignia had been pursued. The first authorized unit insignia was the slip-on. These were a trapezoid shape, wider at the base, made of drab khaki worsted material, with the approved corps or regimental abbreviation embroidered in black thread. The slip-on had two cotton tapes on the reverse for sliding over the shoulder strap. The R.C.A.P.C., like the rest of the army in Canada, was issued with the slip-on in 1940. Summer slip-ons, the same shape and size as the worsted slip-ons, but made of khaki drill material may have been made. These were the only authorized distinctive corps cloth insignia for wear in Canada, in contrast to the coloured insignia being taken into wear overseas.[4]

The worsted RCAPC title

The worsted RCAPC title

The steady stream of personnel moving back and forth between the United Kingdom and Canada contributed to a demand for coloured titles at home. Addressing the problems created by two different policies, one for overseas and one at home, National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) finally conceded and on January 5, 1942 approved the issue of coloured titles for the active army in Canada. With Pay Corps personnel returning to Canada with coloured titles, there had already been requests sent to NDHQ to wear the Corps coloured titles. By early March, abbreviated titles for the R.C.A.P.C. were authorized. The titles were the same colours as overseas, but the Canadian pattern was to have lettering 3/8th inch high. These were produced in Canada for R.C.A.P.C. personnel serving at home.[5]

Several varieties of R.C.A.P.C. abbreviated titles. Primrose yellow was open to interpretation, as can be seen in the different colours of embroidery. The bottom title is made in bullion wire. Authors collection.

Several varieties of R.C.A.P.C. abbreviated titles. Primrose yellow was open to interpretation, as can be seen in the different colours of embroidery. The bottom title is made in bullion wire. Authors collection.

Printed R.C.A.P.C. title. Note the colour of the lettering. Author’s collection.

Printed R.C.A.P.C. title. Note the colour of the lettering. Author’s collection.

Under RO 450, imposed formation patches had been approved as an alternative form of identification for overseas units, but the order had stipulated that there must be consistency within the corps. Confusion surrounded this policy. Initially, with only one Canadian Corps (the army formation) in existence, the intention was that Corps units serving in the Canadian Corps would be identified by the diamond shaped patches, but these patches would be in the respective Corps colours, (as in cherry red for Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, or green for the Canadian Dental Corps, etc). Despite already having a shoulder title, the R.C.A.P.C. also adopted a diamond shaped patch for wear by their units in the Canadian Corps.[6] The requirement that the Canadian Corps patch be in the proper corps (branch) colours resulted in a diamond shaped patch in blue with a small yellow bar 1/2″ below the top point. With the adoption of red diamonds as the formation sign for 1 Canadian Corps, the R.C.A.P.C. patch became obsolete.

Sketch of the authorized formation sign for the R.C.A.P.C. 1 Canadian Corps troops. LAC RG 24 Vol. 10053. File 13/DIST/1/6.

Sketch of the authorized formation sign for the R.C.A.P.C. 1 Canadian Corps troops. LAC RG 24 Vol. 10053. File 13/DIST/1/6.

With mobilization in Canada of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, 4th Canadian Armoured Division and 5th Canadian Armoured Division, the question of insignia for these formations was addressed. As they were destined to serve overseas, they were subject to the policy set out in RO 450. But, it was decided that these formations should acquire most of their insignia in Canada before proceeding overseas. Poor communication, differing interpretations of policy and the distance between Canada and the UK complicated these procurements. No records for an R.C.A.P.C. 3 CID patch  have been documented in Canada, but imposed formation signs for the R.C.A.P.C. on 4 CAD and 5 CAD division signs were manufactured in Canada. These signs were not in keeping with the overseas practices where the R.C.A.P.C. wore the shoulder title with plain formation patches. It is not likely signs for R.C.A.P.C. 4 CAD and 5 CAD were actually taken into wear.

R.C.A.P.C. embroidered patches for 4 Canadian Armoured Division and 5 Canadian Armoured Division. Author’s collection.

R.C.A.P.C. embroidered patches for 4 Canadian Armoured Division and 5 Canadian Armoured Division. Author’s collection.

Imposed formation patches, if taken into wear, were being phased out by the Canadian army overseas by 1943.  Both overseas and in Canada, Pay Corps personnel were identified by the abbreviated coloured titles and where appropriate, plain formation patches. Their shoulder title, either embroidered or printed, remained the only authorized pattern into the post war period. R.C.A.P.C. bullion shoulder titles in gold wire on dark blue and a bullion wire R.C.A.C.P. 3 CID formation patch, in gold wire on French gray have been documented. These were not authorized, and were likely private purchase.

With demobilization of the Canadian Army at the end of the Second World War, existing inventories of insignia were sufficient for immediate needs. In the meantime, NDHQ embarked on a revision of the dress regulations, and in April 1947, Canadian Army Order 84-1 was issued. Included were specific rules for cloth shoulder titles:

New Designs – Requests for new designs of cloth corps or unit shoulder badges will conform with the specifications as outlined hereunder:

(a) The material will be of cloth background with embroidered lettering.

(b) No device other than the corps designation, or unit designation in the case of the RCAC and RCIC, will be used on the badge.

(c) The outside dimensions will not exceed 6 inches in width or 2 inches in height, and will be of such size as will permit recognition at a reasonable distance.

(d) The number of colours used will be limited to three, including the embroidery (two are preferable and customary).

(e) For corps, the name of the corps will be lettered in full. For units, the name of the unit will be lettered in full where possible.

(f) When the word “Canada” or “Canadian” in full does not appear in the title the word “Canada” will be added within the bounds of the badge.

(g) The size of the lettering used in the badges will depend upon the length of the unit designation. Script will NOT be used.

These rules immediately impacted the shoulder titles worn by many Corps of the Canadian Army, including the R.C.A.P.C.

The requirement that corps titles be fully spelled out and include clear national identification meant the R.C.A.P.C. abbreviated title was no longer acceptable. A re-design of the shoulder title was required, and on November 5, a new design was submitted to the Director of Ordnance Services. It was requested that the “lettering of the badge be in yellow, individual letters being 3/8high, on a blue background 1” wide, which in turn will be superimposed on a black backing, which will have an overall size of 5” in length and 1 ¼” in width.” The design, reading “ROYAL CANADIAN / ARMY PAY CORPS” was approved in February 1948, with a minor modification, changing the lettering to 5/16” high. In May, samples were reviewed at a conference of Command Paymasters, and “the badge was found very suitable with no adverse comment”. Procurement was completed and the new titles were taken into wear.[7]

Sketch of proposed Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps title, 1947. RG 112 Vol.29710 Box 261 File 5250-0001/11.

Sketch of proposed Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps title, 1947. RG 112 Vol.29710 Box 261 File 5250-0001/11.

The new R.C.A.P.C. titles did not sit well in some quarters. The Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Regiment took exception to the titles, complaining to the Vice Adjutant General that “the new RCAPC cloth shoulder badges are unnecessarily similar to those previously approved and adopted by the RCR.”  The complaint was referred to the Director of Pay Services, who pointed out several differences in detail, and indicated no changes should be made to their title. The argument failed to sway the Vice Adjutant General, as these details were not significant differences. In May, a new design for the R.C.A.P.C. title was submitted. The design reversed the colours of the lettering with the field colour; the embroidery was blue on yellow, and the backing was changed to the same blue as used for the embroidery. The distribution of wording was also changed, with the revised title reading “ROYAL CANADIAN ARMY / PAY CORPS”. The revised design overcame “the objection of similarity with those of other corps or units, notably the RCR.” Despite the reluctance of the Director of Pay Services, the revised design was authorized and procurement initiated. In the space of four years the R.C.A.P.C. had gone through three designs of titles.[8]

RCAPC full titles. Top, 1947 pattern title. Bottom, 1950 pattern title. RG 112 Vol.29710 Box 261 File 5250-0001/11.

RCAPC full titles. Top, 1947 pattern title. Bottom, 1950 pattern title. RG 112 Vol.29710 Box 261 File 5250-0001/11.

Post war through unification R.C.A.P.C. titles. 1948 pattern at top, 1950 pattern titles below. Author’s collection.

Post war through unification R.C.A.P.C. titles. 1948 pattern at top, 1950 pattern titles below. Author’s collection.

Having battled Army Headquarters and lost, the Pay Corps quietly adopted the new revised titles. For the next 13 years they carried on their duties, wearing this title.  Then in 1962, correspondence crossed the desk of the Director of Pay asking the Corps to consider another change in their titles. During the 1947 revisions, the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, the Royal Canadian Army Chaplain Corps and in 1950, the Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps all had titles which the top line of the designation read “ROYAL CANADIAN ARMY” with the remainder of the specific corps designation in the second line. It was pointed out that this was misleading, as there was no such organization as the “ROYAL CANADIAN ARMY” and it would be more appropriate if “ROYAL CANADIAN” was used as adjectives, describing the “ARMY SERVICE CORPS”. Likewise, the same line break should be applied to the titles of the other three corps. The request met with a luke-warm response from the Director of Pay. He noted that his corps was commonly called the “PAY CORPS”, consistent with the line break on the existing titles. Should the other corps agree to the revision, he would be willing to change “in the interests of uniformity”. The opinion of the Director of Pay held little sway, and new titles reading “ROYAL CANADIAN / ARMY PAY CORPS”, in the same colours as the existing title was approved October 24, 1963.[9]

Following established practice, it was indicated that the “new badges will be obtained as normal maintenance replacement is required. The new badges will be issued when stocks of the current pattern badge have been exhausted.” In a penned note on the same memorandum, DOS indicated a need for 1,000 R.C.A.P.C. titles per year. There was an inventory of 14,000 titles in stores. A succinct observation by the Director of Pay Services indicated it would be some time before new badges appear. With other changes in play, the new titles were never needed.

With unification the R.C.A.P.C. was initially incorporated in the Logisitics Branch and later moved to the Administration Branch  of the Canadian Forces. At present the pay duties are under Logistics again. An essential service, the personnel of the Pay Corps had quietly and efficiently fulfilled their duties. The shoulder titles worn in peace and war, in Canada, overseas in the Second World War, in Korea, and on numerous UN deployments were obsolete.

The 1963 pattern shoulder title approval. These were never produced, as existing inventories of 1950 pattern were still available until the R.C.A.P.C. was absorbed into the Administrative Branch Canadian Forces at unification. RG 112 Vol.29710 Box 261 File 5250-0001/11.

The 1963 pattern shoulder title approval. These were never produced, as existing inventories of 1950 pattern were still available until the R.C.A.P.C. was absorbed into the Administrative Branch Canadian Forces at unification. RG 112 Vol.29710 Box 261 File 5250-0001/11.


References:

Library and Archives Canada RG 24 various volumes, and RG 112 Vol. 29710 File 5250-0001/11.

[1] Army Historical Section, The Regiments and Corps of The Canadian Army, Ministry of National Defence, 1964. Pg 29.

[2]Canadian Army Routine Order (Overseas) 450, November 1940.

[3] Several makers supplied embroidered insignia to the Canadian Army (Overseas) which results in titles that with minor variations in colours, embroidery styles and size. LAC RG 24 Vol. 10053. Hobson and Sons (London) LTD., Letter to Maj. Miller, D.A.D.O.S. Canadian Military Headquarters, May 16, 1942. The printed titles were manufactured by Calico Printers Assoc. The lettering on the printed title is  an amber or gold yellow.

[4] Domina, H.L. for Inspector General, Inspection Board of United Kingdom and Canada, Letter to The Secretary Dept. Of Munitions and Supply, January 7, 1941. LAC RG 24 Vol 2186 Box 1 File HQ 54-27-60-3, and McColm, R. Lt. For D.O.S. (G.S.) Letter to Mr. Torrence Department of Munitions and Supply. February 24, 1941. LAC RG 24 Vol 2186 Box 1 File HQ 54-27-60-3.

[5] DEFENSOR Cable to CANMILITARY, Cable description coloured Unit Titles now authorized in Canada for personnel of Corps and Services not belonging to formations. LAC RG 24 Vol. 2185 File 13/DIST/1/5 Folio 162.  Initially there was a size difference in the lettering for the R.C.A.P.C. and R.C.O.C. titles at 1/2” lettering as compared to the 3/8” lettering on later titles. It was argued that for consistency and efficiency the titles should all be embroidered with the same size lettering. The R.C.A.P.C. titles authorized in Canada were based on examples sent to Canada from overseas. Contracted titles appear to have ignored the size specifications in most cases. The Canadian produced samples were in turn sent back to CMHQ as samples. MacQueen J.H. Brigadier D.Q.M.G. CMHQ, Memorandum, April 17, 1942.  RG 24 Vol. 2186, File 13/DIST/1/5, Folio 186.

[6] The Canadian Corps was re-designated 1 Canadian Corps April 6, 1942. The First Canadian Army was authorized the same day, with an order of battle consisting of two Corps. A new formation, 2 Canadian Corps was authorized, but not immediately organized. The question of Corps identification resulted in a simplification of the formation patch system. Red diamonds, echoing the red divisional patch of 1st Canadian Infantry Division was chosen as the standardized formation sign for the 1st Canadian Corps, and blue echoing, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division was selected as the colour for 2nd Canadian Corps diamond shaped formation sign.

[7] Various letters and memos, 1947-1948. LAC RG 112, Vol.29710, File 5250-0001/11 Vol. 1 Dress Instructions Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps.

[8] At one point in the correspondence, DOS suggested that perhaps the OC RCR consider submitting a new design for his regiment.

[9] Various letters and memos,1962-1963. LAC RG 112, Vol.29710, File 5250-0001/11 Vol. 1 Dress Instructions Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps.

Canadian Western Cavalry 1903–1914

by René Chartrand
The following text and artwork originally appeared in the Journal of the Company of Military Historians, as part of their Military Uniforms in America series.
The period 1903–1914 witnessed a considerable expansion of Canadian volunteer militia cavalry units, going from eight to thirty-six regiments. This was most notable in the newly settled western prairies and British Columbia (Saskatchewan and Alberta became provinces in 1905) where seventeen new regiments appeared. Cavalry was the favored arm of service in this largely agricultural area dotted with cattle and horse breeding ranches.1
The new units had handsome and colorful uniforms that were distinctive, notably in their headdress following the South African War, in which Canadian cavalry units had distinguished themselves wearing the stiff-brimmed “Montana peak” hats. This hat also gave them a certain similarity in style with the already famed North-West Mounted Police. White helmets, popular in the 1880s and 1890s, were mostly laid aside for the new hat. The new regulation dark blue peaked forage cap issued to all militiamen was also popular and the favorite headgear in some units. The “serge frocks” with breast pockets was the standard issue since 1896 and came in scarlet or blue for cavalry units. Its collar and shoulder straps were of the unit’s facing color. These patterns were confirmed as sealed in March 1905. Pantaloons came in two types, those made of sturdy brownish tan “Bedford” cord and those in dark blue serge with either a broad stripe or two narrow ones depending on the type of unit. Brown or black leather leggings were theoretically issued with these types of pantaloons and everyone was issued steel box spurs to fit over the ankle boots. Lee-Metford rifles were usually seen until gradually replaced by the Canadian-made Ross rifles from about 1911. Belts and ammunition bandoliers were of brown leather.2
Art: Robert M. Marrion

Art: Robert M. Marrion

There were many variations to the above. The 12th added shoulder chains; the 18th had white Wolseley helmets as well as stiff-brimmed hats; the 23d had slouch hats until 1912, and all its men had dark blue frocks with shoulder chains for undress. The first uniform of the 31st was a “hybrid” mixture in 1910. From 1909, the facing colors on the serge frock were only shown on its shoulder straps, but, as the frocks were to last five years, collars with the facing color could be still seen worn by the 15th in 1912. Officers might purchase the official and expensive full dress, described in the detailed 1907 dress regulations, but most had the serge frock like their men and the dark blue patrol jacket with steel shoulder chains. The uniforms of a few of the lesser known units are presented in this plate: 3

  • 15th Alberta Light Horse (Calgary, Alberta, organized from 3 July 1905), Trooper, ca. 1908. Scarlet frock, yellow collar and shoulder straps, dark blue pantaloons with double yellow stripes, stiff-brimmed hat.
  • 22d Saskatchewan Light Horse (Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, organized from 1 March 1908), officer, ca. 1910. Scarlet frock, white collar, dark blue pantaloon with double white stripes, stiff-brimmed hat.
  • 23d Alberta Rangers (Pincher Creek, Alberta, organized from 1 April 1908), Trooper, ca. 1909. Scarlet frock, white collar and shoulder straps, dark blue pantaloons with double white stripes, slouch hat.
  • 29th Light Horse (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, organized from 1 April 1911), Sergeant, ca. 1912. Scarlet frock, scarlet collar, yellow shoulder straps, dark blue pantaloons with double yellow stripes, stiff-brimmed hat.
Since 1903, the military authorities trying to issue khaki serge uniforms were meeting with outstanding opposition. It was only in 1913 that the decision to make future issues in khaki was made. Thus, many Western cavalry units still wore scarlet frocks when World War I broke out in August 1914.4

Notes

1. On the development of Western cavalry regiments, see notably: Donald E. Graves, Century of Service (Toronto: South Alberta Light Horse Association, 2005), chapters 1 and 2; Bruce Tascona, The Militia of Manitoba 1883-1979 (Winnipeg: by the author, 1979), 15–23.
2. Department of National Defence (Ottawa, Canada), Directorate of History and Heritage (henceforth DND/DHH), Minutes of the Militia Council, 14 March 1905.
3. DND/DHH, Minutes of the Militia Council, 11 March 1909; regimental uniform notes taken in the Benson Freeman Collection, Army Museums Ogilby Trust, London, England (now closed) by the late Gen. Jack L. Summers in 1972, and transmitted to the author; Canadian Militia List, published annually in Ottawa, years 1902–1914.
4. Canadian Militia Gazette, 23 January 1905; DND/DHH, Minutes of the Militia Council, 28 January 1913.

The Churchill Mark I Infantry Tank in Service with the Canadian Army Overseas, 1941-43

by Mark W. Tonner

Introduction

The Churchill Mark I was the first ‘Mark’ (the term (‘Mark’) used to designate different versions of equipment) of the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22). The Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22) itself, was an ‘Infantry Tank,’ specifically designed for fighting in support of infantry operations. For this role, the requirements for an infantry tank, as the British General Staff saw it, were that the tanks have heavy armour, powerful armament, good obstacle-crossing performance, and reasonable range and speed. It was the fourth in the family of infantry tanks that had been developed by the British. The three previous infantry tanks developed by the British, was the Infantry Tank Mark I, Matilda I (A11), the Infantry Tank Mark II, Matilda II (A12), and the Infantry Tank Mark III, Valentine. Within the Canadian Army Overseas, the units of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade were the main Canadian users of the Churchill infantry tank. Between July 1941 and May 1943, the brigade was equipped with the Churchill Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV tanks.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment training on a beach near Seaford, Sussex, in July 1942. Source: MilArt photo archives.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment training on a beach near Seaford, Sussex, in July 1942. Source: MilArt photo archives.

The British development of the Churchill Mark I

The Churchill Mark I was designed by Vauxhall Motors Limited in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, who also acted as parent to a group of companies charged with the production of the Infantry Tank Mark IV, Churchill (A22). Working under tremendous pressure, Vauxhall Motors had the first tank completed and ready for testing in December 1940, only twenty-two weeks after having started detailed design work. Unfortunately, because they had been instructed to have it in production within one year, the possibility of detailed user and development trails was virtually eliminated. With the issue of the first production models of the Churchill to units to begin in June 1941, Vauxhall was forced to work straight from the drawing board. This lead to some “teething troubles” with a few futures in the design and construction of the tank in early models only, which could give rise to troubles not normally expected in service. Vauxhall addressed this issue by inserting a four-page small yellow leaflet (dated May 1941) into the Churchill tank user handbook, addressed to crews, mechanics and workshop personnel, listing the defects known in advance to all who would handle the vehicle, and to outline the precautionary measures necessary to minimize them, and to explain that the defects existed solely because of the inadequate time that was available for comprehensive testing. Despite the problems, it did not take long to correct all the Churchill’s defects, and for the tank to become mechanically a very reliable vehicle. Vauxhall’s engineering teams, seconded to British and Canadian regiments who were training with Churchill tanks, sent a steady stream of information back to the factory, which constantly led to modifications and improvements. The combination of the Vauxhall teams and the Churchill crews, working hand-in-hand through the first formative months of the Churchill’s service, led to their crews knowing their tanks more intimately than could have been achieved with the most intensive training. Coupled with the aforementioned measures, the decision was taken in November 1941, that a rework programme would be carried out to correct some of the tank’s more glaring faults, and to bring many Mark I and Mark II tanks up to the current standard of the Churchill Mark III. Vauxhall Motors in Luton, Bedfordshire, and Broom & Wade in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, were both authorized to turn their production lines over to this rework programme, starting respectively, on 1 March and 1 April 1942.

A description of the Churchill Mark I

The Churchill Mark I had 102-millimetre thick armour (with a minimum thickness of 16-millimetres), making it one of the most heavily protected tanks built to that time. It weighed approximately 39-tons, and was 7.4-metres in length, by 3.3-metres in width, and stood at a height of 3.8-metres. It was powered by a 350-brake horsepower, 12-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine, which could produce a road speed of 25-kilometres per hour and a cross-country speed of 13-kilometres per hour. The Churchill Mark I had an onboard fuel capacity of 682-litres, carried in six interconnected fuel tanks, three each side, located within the engine compartment. Also, the Churchill Mark I had an auxiliary fuel tank mounted on the outside rear hull, which carried an additional 148-litres. This auxiliary tank was connected to the main fuel system, but could be jettisoned from the tank in an emergency. This gave the Churchill Mark I a total fuel capacity of 830-litres allowing a cruising range of 145 to 201-kilometres.

The Churchill Mark I mounted a 2-pounder gun (capable of penetrating 57-millimetres of armour at 457-metres) and a coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun in the turret, along with a 51-millimetre smoke bomb thrower in the turret roof, and a 3-inch howitzer (with a range of 1,829 to 2,286-metres) mounted in the hull front plate alongside the driver. The armour piercing capability of the 2-pounder and the high explosive capability of the 3-inch howitzer gave the tank a balanced armament. The 2-pounder was considered to be obsolescent by 1940, but was still being produced in quantity to replace losses in France. The factories could not spare the time to retool for the production of a heavier gun, due to the urgent need to re-equip the British Army after Dunkirk. The 2-pounder gun had an elevation of minus 15-degrees to plus 20-degrees, while that of the 3-inch howitzer was minus five degrees to plus nine degrees. The traverse of the 3-inch howitzer mounted in the hull front plate was restricted by the width of the hull between the horns. The Churchill Mark I had a crew of five (a commander, a gun layer, a loader/(radio) operator, a driver, a co-driver/hull gunner) men, all of whom was cross-trained.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment, note the placement of the 3-inch howitzer in the front hull plate. Source: MilArt photo archives.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment, note the placement of the 3-inch howitzer in the front hull plate. Source: MilArt photo archives.

 

A Churchill Mark I of the Three Rivers Regiment, note the restricted traverse of the hull mounted 3-inch howitzer. Source: MilArt photo archives.

A Churchill Mark I of the Three Rivers Regiment, note the restricted traverse of the hull mounted 3-inch howitzer. Source: MilArt photo archives.

The hull was divided into four compartments. At the front, the driving compartment also housed the howitzer gunner. Behind that was the fighting compartment containing the electrically-operated three-man (commander, gun layer, and the loader/(radio) operator) turret. Further to the rear was the engine compartment, followed by the rear compartment housing the gearbox, main and steering brakes, air compressor, auxiliary battery charging set, and a turret power traverse generator. The hull was constructed of flat steel plates connected together with heavy steel angle irons, with rivets being used to secure the plates to the angle irons. The floor was flat and free from projections, and panniers were provided at each side between the upper and lower runs of the track for storage of equipment. The construction of the panniers was described as a double box girder, because each pannier formed a rectangular structure on each side of the hull, which created a hull of immense strength. The whole hull structure was suitably braced by cross girders and by the bulkheads that separated the various compartments.

The large square door (escape hatch) provided in each pannier just behind the driver and hull gunner positions was an unusual provision for British armoured fighting vehicles of this period, but was also very welcome by crews. Many a crewman who served as a driver or hull gunner on a Churchill is alive today because of these pannier doors. These doors could be opened or closed only from the inside, but the locking handles were designed so that the doors were automatically secured when they were closed. Each of these doors was provided with a circular pistol port, and two pistol ports were also provided in the turret. Double-hinged doors were provided in the hull roof above the driver and front gunner. They were normally operated from inside, but could be opened or secured from the outside by using a suitable key.

The turret of the Churchill Mark I, which was cast entirely as one piece, was the first attempt by British steel makers to create a complete turret as a single bulletproof steel casting. Also, the turret of the Churchill Mark I, had no protective mantlet, instead having just three slots in the bulletproof steel casting for the 2-pounder gun, the coaxial Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun, and the sighting telescope. The turret could be controlled electrically when the engine was running, or it could be rotated by hand when the engine was stopped. When controlled electrically, the turret could be rotated at a fast speed of 360-degrees in 15 seconds, or at slow speed in 24 seconds. A cupola that could be rotated by hand independently of the turret was mounted in the turret roof for the use of the tank commander, which was rotatable by hand independently of the turret. A large hatch, closed by steel doors, was provided for the loader and gunner. A No. 19 wireless set (radio) was housed in the turret. This 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.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment, note the Mark I’s cast one-piece turret and the absence a mantlet. Source: MilArt photo archives.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment, note the Mark I’s cast one-piece turret and the absence a mantlet. Source: MilArt photo archives.

For optics and viewing, the driver was provided with a large vision aperture, which could be reduced to a small port protected with very thick glass. When necessary the small port could also be closed. The driver and hull gunner both had periscopes, and there were two other periscopes mounted in the front of the turret for the loader and gunner. The commander’s cupola was fitted with two periscopes. A Churchill tank driver’s vision was more restricted than on other tanks, because the driving compartment was set back so far from the forward track horns. Churchill drivers could see ahead, but could see very little on either side of the vehicle, and they relied on the tank commander to warn them of obstacles.

The driver’s large vision aperture, which could be reduced to a small port protected with very thick glass. Source: MilArt photo archives.

The driver’s large vision aperture, which could be reduced to a small port protected with very thick glass. Source: MilArt photo archives.

As mentioned earlier, there was adequate provision for stowage of ammunition and equipment, with the Churchill Mark I, able to accommodate the stowage of 150 rounds of 2-pounder ammunition, 58 rounds of 3-inch howitzer ammunition, 4,725 rounds of 7.92-millimetre ammunition, and 25 smoke bombs. Additionally, each tank also carried one .303-inch Bren (Mark I) light machine gun with an anti-aircraft mounting and six 100-round drum type magazines, two .45 calibre Thompson sub-machine guns with six 50-round drum type and ten 20-round box type magazines each, and one Signal Pistol, No. 1, Mark III, with twelve cartridges (four red, four green, four white). Designated stowage locations for vehicle tools, spare parts, and equipment, and the crew’s personnel equipment, were also provided.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment, note the Bren light machine gun in its anti-aircraft mounting on the turret roof. Source: MilArt photo archives.

A Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment, note the Bren light machine gun in its anti-aircraft mounting on the turret roof. Source: MilArt photo archives.

The Churchill Mark I in Canadian service

On 4 December 1941, No. 1 Sub Depot of No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, located at Bordon Camp, Hampshire, England, began to receive Churchill Mark I tanks from the British for issue to the three army tank battalions (later redesignated army tank regiments on 15 May 1942) of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade. The brigade (which was the first formation of the Canadian Armoured Corps sent overseas) had arrived in the United Kingdom at the end of June 1941, and was to have been equipped with the Canadian-built Infantry Tank Mark III, Valentine, before leaving Canada. However, because of delays in Canadian tank production, the British War Office was asked to lend tanks to the incoming 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade. These would be replaced with Canadian-built tanks when Canadian production problems were overcome. With the support of the British Army’s Commander of the Royal Armoured Corps, this endeavour was successful, and immediately upon arrival in the United Kingdom, 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade was able to draw equipment on a respectable training scale. The 11th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Ontario Regiment (Tank)) was equipped with the new Churchill Mark II tank (built to the same specifications as the Churchill Mark I, except that the 3-inch howitzer mounted in the hull front plate was replaced by a Besa 7.92-millimetre machine gun), straight from the Vauxhall Motors production line. In the meantime, until such time as more Churchill tanks became available, the Infantry Tank Mark II, Matilda II (A12), were issued to the 12th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (The Three Rivers Regiment (Tank)), and 14th Canadian Army Tank Battalions (The Calgary Regiment (Tank)), but by the end of December 1941, all three tank battalions of the brigade were equipped with Churchill tanks.

At this time, a Canadian army tank battalion was organized, equipped, and manned, as per the War Establishment of a Canadian Army Tank Battalion (Cdn III/1940/33A/1) of 11th February 1941. The war establishment was a document that specified the organization of a unit, and its authorized entitlement for personnel, vehicles, and weapons. The document was updated whenever the unit was reorganized or they received new equipment. Under War Establishment (Cdn III/1940/33A/1), a Canadian army tank battalion included a battalion headquarters, headquarters squadron, and three tank squadrons. The battalion headquarters included four cruiser or infantry close support tanks. The headquarters squadron had a squadron headquarters, an intercommunication troop with nine scout cars, and an administrative troop. Each of the three tank squadrons had a squadron headquarters and five tank troops, each with three infantry tanks. The squadron headquarters had three tanks: one cruiser or infantry tank, and two cruiser or infantry close support tanks. In all, each Canadian army tank battalion, was entitled to an overall tank strength of 58 tanks. Although initially issued to the army tank battalions of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, against their war establishment entitlement of cruiser or infantry tanks, as time went on and more Churchill Mark II tanks became available (along with the Churchill Mark III in April 1942), the Churchill Mark I was employed in the squadron headquarters in place of the infantry close support tanks.

A reworked Churchill Mark I of the Ontario Regiment, note the driver’s small vision port protected with very thick glass. Source: MilArt photo archives.

A reworked Churchill Mark I of the Ontario Regiment, note the driver’s small vision port protected with very thick glass. Source: MilArt photo archives.

Under the previously mentioned rework programme, Canadian-held Churchill Mark I tanks started to be withdrawn on 30 May 1942. These tanks were returned to the British Army’s Chilwell Mechanical Transport Sub-Depot, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, located at Vauxhall Motors in Luton, Bedfordshire, England. There, once all tank stores and wireless (radio) equipments were accounted for, the tank was struck off charge of the Canadian Army Overseas. New or reworked Churchill tanks were in turn issued to the Canadian Army Overseas through No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, to replace those that had been turned in. From the end of May 1942 onwards, there was a continuous stream of Churchill Mark I tanks being withdrawn from the units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade and new or reworked Mark I tanks being issued to replace them. This process continued until March 1943, when the decision was made to replace the brigade’s Churchill tanks with the Canadian-built Cruiser Tank, Ram Mk II. Not all of the Churchill Mark I tanks operated by units of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade had to be reworked. In July 1942, Canadian Military Headquarters (London, England) issued a list of tanks, that were not affected by the rework programme.

Two reworked Churchill Mark Is of the Three Rivers Regiment on exercise somewhere in England. Source: MilArt photo archives.

Two reworked Churchill Mark Is of the Three Rivers Regiment on exercise somewhere in England. Source: MilArt photo archives.

By the time of Operation Jubilee, the ill-fated combined operations raid carried out against the port of Dieppe, France, on 19 August 1942, the Calgary Regiment, held six Churchill Mark I tanks, all employed as close support tanks, with two each in squadron headquarters, of the regiments three squadrons. All six of these tanks were reworked Churchill Mark Is which had been recently issued (two on 20 June, and four on 6 July 1942) to replace Mark Is that had been withdrawn from the regiment under the rework programme. Of these six tanks, four were lost at Dieppe while serving with “B” and “C” squadron headquarters. The two Churchill Mark I tanks serving with “A” squadron headquarters returned to England, with the squadron not having landed. It would not be until 23 October 1942, that these losses to the Calgary Regiment would be replaced.

A reworked Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment’s “B” Squadron Headquarters knocked out at Dieppe. Source: Authors’ image file.

A reworked Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment’s “B” Squadron Headquarters knocked out at Dieppe. Source: Authors’ image file.

 

A reworked Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment’s “C” Squadron Headquarters knocked out at Dieppe. Source: Authors’ image file.

A reworked Churchill Mark I of the Calgary Regiment’s “C” Squadron Headquarters knocked out at Dieppe. Source: Authors’ image file.

As of 5 January 1943, among the three tank regiments of 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, a total of 36 Churchill Mark I tanks (11 of which were reworked), were held on strength of the brigade. As of 1 March 1943, 16 reworked Churchill Mark Is, were held among the three tank regiments of the brigade. With the previously mentioned decision having been made to replace the brigade’s Churchill tanks with the Canadian-built Cruiser Tank, Ram Mk II, the brigade’s Churchill Mark I tanks, began to be withdrawn on 22 March 1943, with three Churchill Mark Is of the Calgary Regiment, being returned to No. 1 Canadian Base Ordnance Depot, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps (Bordon Camp, Hampshire). This was followed on 26 March, with the withdrawal of four Churchill Mark Is of the Ontario Regiment, and finally on 29 March, with the withdrawal of the six Churchill Mark I tanks of the Three Rivers Regiment, and the withdrawal of the remaining two from the Calgary Regiment. On 11 May 1943, the last remaining two Churchill Mark Is (which were held on strength of the Ontario Regiment), were turned over to the British 148th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, at the British School of Infantry at Catterick, North Yorkshire, England. In all, at one time or another, between 4 December 1941 and 11 May 1943, approximately 70 Churchill Mark I tanks (24 of which were reworked Mark Is), were held on the strength of units of the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade.

More information on the Churchill Mark Is which served with the Canadian Army Overseas can be found at Ram Tank under the Churchill Registry heading.


 

Acknowledgements:

The author wishes to thank Clive M. Law, for providing photos from the MilArt photo archives, and for publishing this article.

Any errors or omissions, is entirely the fault of the author.

Bibliography:

Tonner, Mark W., The Churchill in Canadian Service (Canadian Weapons of War Series), 2010, Service Publications; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-894581-67-7, and The Churchill Tank and the Canadian Armoured Corps, 2011, Service Publications; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-894581-66-0.

Eastern Canada Volunteer Cavalry, 1896-1914

by René Chartrand
The following text and artwork originally appeared in the Journal of the Company of Military Historians, as part of their Military Uniforms in America series.
In the 1890s and early 1900s, large numbers of immigrants came to Canada. One of the results of this increase in the nation’s population was the organization of new regiments of volunteer militia, especially cavalry units. While the majority of the new regiments of volunteer cavalry were raised in the newly settled western provinces (see MUIA 852), a substantial number were also raised in the east and joined the older units already existing there. Thus, from 1903, the 7th Hussars (Bury, Québec), the 9th Mississauga Horse (Ontario), the 11th Hussars (Richmond, Québec), the 13th Scottish Dragoons (Waterloo, Québec), the 14th Hussars (1904, Middleton, Nova Scotia), the 17th Duke of York’s Canadian Hussars (1907, Montréal), the 24th Grey’s Horse (1908, Ingersoll, Ontario), the 25th Brandt Dragoons (1909, Brantford, Ontario), the 26th Stanstead Dragoons (1910, Coaticook, Québec), the 28th New Brunswick Dragoons (St. John, New Brunswick), the 33rd Vaudreuil and Soulanges Hussars (1912, Vaudreuil, Québec) and the 36th Prince Edward Island Light Horse (existing since 1901, but numbered in 1913, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island) were organized as regiments. They joined the Governor General’s Body Guard (Toronto), the 1st Hussars (London, Ontario), the 2nd Dragoons (Burford, Ontario), the 3rd Prince of Wales Dragoons (Cobourg, Ontario), the 4th Hussars (Kingston, Ontario), the 5th Princess Louise Dragoons (Ottawa, Ontario), the 6th Royal Canadian Hussars (Montréal) and the 8th Princess Louise’s New Brunswick Hussars (Sussex, New Brunswick).
Units in eastern Canada wore uniforms that followed closely the styles worn in the British Army’s cavalry, although some units might have differences regarding some items of dress. By 1904-1905, the “pillbox” undress caps were being replaced by the dark blue “naval pattern” peaked caps with a white cover worn in the summer. All had pantaloons made of sturdy brownish tan “Bedford” cord.
Canadian hussar regiments all wore the same uniform, that of the 13th British Hussars, whose full dress was dark blue with a buff (actually white) collar, double trouser stripes, Busby bag and plume, all decorated with yellow cords. Some regiments had white pith helmets in full dress in the 1890s, but many units replaced them with fur Busbies in the early 1900s. In practice, because of the cost of full dress, most hussars wore the all dark blue serge frock introduced in 1896, which had a yellow crow’s foot at the cuffs and yellow piping edging the bottom of the collar, with a dark blue peaked cap having a white band and piping. Our hussar figure is based on a photo of a trooper of Montréal’s 6th Hussars shown in full dress.
Other cavalry units all wore various types of dragoon uniforms; some had dark blue tunics (all of which were faced with white), others had scarlet tunics with distinctive regimental facings. All had dark blue trousers with white or yellow stripes. A few units had a squadron or a squad or just some officers in full dress while most men wore serge frocks and peaked caps. For regiments wearing dark blue, the serge frock was the same as for hussars. For regiments wearing scarlet, their scarlet serge frock had a collar of the facing colors (all had yellow facings except myrtle green for the 9th and black for the 26th). From 1909, all frocks had shoulder straps of the facing color. A few of the lesser known units are here presented.
The famous Governor General’s Body Guard in Toronto had the title, but the unit that did the actual work of escorting the Governor General of Canada in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, was the 5th Princess Louise Dragoons. Since the 1870s, it had a full dress dark blue tunic with white collar, cuffs and piping, brass/gilt buttons, dark blue trousers with white double stripes, brass helmets with a white horse hair plume. Its undress dark blue peaked cap had a scarlet band and piping, a unique distinction granted to this unit.
The 26th Stanstead Dragoons, or at least some of its officers, wore the full dress scarlet tunic with black velvet collar, cuffs and piping, gilt buttons, dark blue trousers with a broad yellow stripe, gilded helmet and badge (except for enameled center and silver scroll) with a black over white hair plume.
Officers of the 36th Prince Edward Island Light Horse were dressed as dragoons. Full dress consisted of a scarlet tunic with yellow collar, cuffs and piping, gilt buttons, dark blue trousers with a broad yellow stripe. Instead of expensive gilt helmets, the volunteer officers opted for a white colonial pattern helmet with gilt regimental badge, chin strap and spike surmounted by a red over white hair plume. The NCOs and men wore the scarlet serge frock, dark blue trousers with a yellow stripe and peaked caps of dark blue with yellow bands and piping.
Art: Robert Marrion

Art: Robert M. Marrion


Notes
  • Canadian Militia List, published annually in Ottawa, years 1902 to 1914 ; Regulations for the Clothing of the Canadian Militia, Part II (Ottawa : Government Printing Office, 1909), pp. 37-38; for officer’s uniforms, see: David Ross and René Chartrand, ed., Canadian Militia Dress Regulations 1907 illustrated, with amendments to 1914 (St. John: The New Brunswick Museum, 1980). See the text of MUIA 852 for arms, accouterments and equipment.
  • Regimental uniform notes taken in the Benson Freeman Collection, Army Museums Ogilby Trust, London, England (now closed) by the late Gen. Jack L. Summers in 1972, and transmitted to the author; “Short History of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards”, The Salute, January 1936, pp. 11-14; William Y. Carman, “26th Canadian Horse (Stanstead Dragoons)”, The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society, August, 1985, pp. 26-28; 36th PEI Light Horse helmet in Worthington Museum, Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario; silken prints of Canadian uniforms done in 1913 for the Tuckett’s Tobacco Company of Hamilton, Ontario.

See the related article on Canadian Western Cavalry uniforms

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