Gavin K. Watt
I have assembled two groups of images, primarily from the online sites of Library and Archives Canada and the Imperial War Museum and from publications and websites (particularly of restored vehicles.)
The first group of photos focuses on assisting our goal to correctly portray Canadian Second World War soldiers. I think there are sufficient sources available that illustrate the ‘letter-perfect’ version of the soldier that we should emulate at all ceremonial events and the Guide section of this website addresses that same issue quite thoroughly; however, there are other considerations to be made when we act in the role of movie extras, in ‘combat’ marches and tactical demonstrations.
Years ago, I can recall speaking to a Second War combat veteran immediately after one of our mock battles staged at CFB Borden for Armed Forces Days. I was very chuffed about our efforts, as we had fielded and manned several restored vehicles and deployed a full platoon of infantry. For a bunch of amateurs, I thought we’d done a superb job and was sure the veteran would say something flattering; however, his only comment was, “You’re all too clean” and he wasn’t referring to our skin. Now, we’re not going to slather our uniforms with mud or rub dirt into our webbing, but there are a few little tricks that we can employ to knock the edges off our too-neat appearances. These are covered in the ‘A’ section of images.
The ‘B’ group (to follow) is aimed towards education and general interest. While our rec-reated unit only rarely operates with integral softskin or armoured vehicles and never with artillery, it’s important to recognize how critical these armaments were to winning the war. (I haven’t collected images of aircraft or naval vessels, which is not to suggest that they were in any way unimportant).
Both image groups illustrate Canadian soldiers from our five divisions and two independent armoured brigades plus 1st Canadian Parachute battalion and even a wee bit of our 13th Infantry brigade that landed at Kiska.
Khaki cotton bandoleers provided the rifleman with fifty rounds of .303 in five separate compartments each holding two 5-round chargers. While the amount of small arms ammunition carried into action varied with the mission, it was common for the rifleman to have one bandoleer rolled up and put in a Basic Pouch with fifty rounds of loose, 5-round charger clips packed on top of it. A second, or even a third, bandoleer would be worn over the webbing in various methods of carry.
Canadian bandoleers came in two versions. One type was very similar to the American style with individual pockets with horizontal openings in the front panel. This design had no mechanical fasteners and extracting chargers was awkward, usually requiring the use of both hands.
The pockets of the second type opened at the top and were held closed with bendable wire clips. The rifleman could prepare ahead and bend open the wire to allow one-handed removal of the chargers, but, with too much movement or crawling, his ammunition could fall out, get dirty, or be lost.