RENÉ CHARTRAND, ILLUSTRATED BY RON VOLSTAD
CANADIAN FORCES IN WORLD WAR II

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THE PLATES

A1: Private, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry; 1st Canadian Division, UK, December 1939

The men of the 1st Division sent to Britain had the new British 37 pattern Battledress and Field Service caps made in Canada, but lacked the web anklets. The accoutrements were much older: the Regulars had, in theory, the WE 25 set, but some seem to have received the WE 08 set like the volunteer regiments. All had the old Mk I steel helmet. The 'Princess Pats' served in the 2nd Inf Bde with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and the (Loyal) Edmonton Regiment. Only the cap badge identifies the unit at this date, and no 'CANADA' shoulder title is yet worn.

A2: Private, Veterans' Guard of Canada; winter dress, 1940-45

The uniforms of the veterans were the same as the Regulars: khaki BD with FS caps in summer, with the addition of this khaki greatcoat and cold weather cap in winter; WE 08 or WE 37 accoutrements; and, often, the old .303in. Canadian Ross rifle in place of the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE). From February 1941 red badges with 'Veterans Guard' in yellow were issued for wear on the shoulder straps of BD and greatcoats. Early in the war some older pre-war kit was used. Photos taken in Canada during 1941 show the pre-1939 light khaki tropical service uniform with five brass buttons, the American tropical helmet and WE 08 accoutrements. The figure shown has 4 x 10-round cartridge carriers rather than the universal pouch. The supply situation soon improved - by 1945 No. 22 Company even had a pipe band, wearing light khaki summer doublet, shirt and tie, dark kilt (probably Black Watch sett), black sporran with two white tails, Glengarry with a plain band, and white gaiters with dark hose tops. (F.H. Wooding, The Veterans' Guard of Canada', The Legionary, January 1941 & February 1947; photos in private collection)

A3: Despatch rider, Royal Canadian Dragoons (1st Armoured Car Regiment); Italy, 1943

Canadian Army motorcycle despatch riders wore, like their British counterparts, a rubberised coat (the short pattern is shown here), breeches and high three-buckle boots, and were armed with WE 37 revolver equipment. Motorcyclists had a rimless steel helmet similar to the British armoured troops' pattern but with its own liner and strapping; Trooper Everett Walter Paisley, on whom this figure is based, recalled getting the first model helmet in 1943. The RCDs provided the armoured car reconnaissance regiment for I Canadian Corps; despatch riders had a high casualty rate, and Paisley was badly wounded at Ortona just before Christmas 1943. He went on to serve in the South Alberta Regt, the recce unit of 4th Armd Div, in NW Europe, and later volunteered for the Pacific.

B1: Private, Royal Rifles of Canada or Winnipeg Grenadiers; Hong Kong, December 1941

No visible insignia distinguished the battle order of the two regiments which took part in the doomed defence of Hong Kong; both wore Canadian khaki drill tropical uniform. The Canadian shorts had no field dressing pocket and were cut closer than the British Army pattern. Armament and accoutrements are the conventional SMLE rifle with bayonet and WE 37 equipment. Respirators were worn slung under the left arm.

B2: Private, Régiment de Hull, 13th Infantry Brigade; Kiska, Aleutians, 1943

The 13th Inf Bde wore Canadian BD, the leather buckle-flap boots also later worn by the 3rd Inf Div in NW Europe, carried the light service respirator, and were armed with the Lee- Enfield No.4 rifle. Just about everything else was American, which made good logistical sense for a brigade attached to a large US force, and minimised the risk of being taken for enemy troops. The equipment set was based on the US 1923 cartridge belt; the men had American framed rucksacks, Arctic sleeping bags, and overcoat/parkas. A surviving parka-style coat made by Reed Products of Philadelphia in September 1942, worn by Pte. Ludger Saint-Laurent of the Régiment de Hull on Kiska in 1943, is of a light tan colour, reversible with a pile liner; it has a drawstring hood, a tightening tape in a waist 'tunnel', buttoned cuff tabs, a deep front fly, and two patch skirt pockets with flaps. The US M1 helmet was dressed with the Canadian camouflage net in two hues of khaki. Canadian officers of the brigade wore US rank badges on their berets, left of the regimental badge, and on the left collar of their blouse, as well as their Canadian rank badges on the shoulder straps. Note the yellow-on-blue title 'LE REGT DE HULL7CANADA' above the Bowie knife patch of the Kiska force.

B3: Sergeant, Calgary Regiment (14th Armoured Regiment), 1st Army Tank Brigade; Dieppe, 19 August 1942

The men of this Churchill tank regiment taking part in the disastrous Dieppe raid wore BD and WE 37 accoutrements. A number of tanks were disembarked, but their traction was hampered by the slippery shingle beach and they were all knocked out, mostly close to the waterline. Our figure is based on a tank crew sergeant seen there, desperately fighting with revolver in hand. His open blouse reveals a surprisingly modern touch - a sweatshirt with the regimental badge printed on; a German photo of a prisoner of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal shows that at least one other unit followed suit. The regimental badge is worn more conventionally pinned to his black armoured troops' beret The white tank right sleeve badge of the British Royal Tank Regt is visible in some photos of the Calgaries - it is not worn here, but note the regimental left shoulder lanyard. Their non-regulation UK-made shoulder title, with 'CANADA/THE CALGARY REGIMENT' in dark blue on lighter blue, seems to have been the only regimental title worn by units at Dieppe. At this date the 2nd Inf Div wore the white-on-khaki 'CANADA' title (of both straight and arc patterns), above their royal blue rectangular divisional patch with an added World War I scheme of 'battle badges'. The 4th, 5th and 6th Inf Bdes were identified by the colours green, red and dark blue respectively. The senior battalions had a coloured disc above the blue patch (Royal Regiment of Canada/ Black Watch/ Fusiliers Mont-Royal); the intermediate battalions, a half-disc butted down against it (Royal Hamilton LI/ Régt de Maisonneuve (absent)/ Cameron Highlanders); and the junior battalions, a shallow triangle (Essex Scottish/ Calgary Highlanders/ South Saskatchewan Regt).

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