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Canadian troops in Holland, early 1945, wearing the standard British white cotton two-piece snow camouflage suit. (Canadian Dept of National Defence, ZK-958)


Footwear was the standard laced army 'ammunition' boot of black pebbled leather. The soles were of leather, hobnailed and with steel toe and heel plates. The ankles were covered with short khaki web anklets; the Canadian-made anklets had the narrow retaining straps made of webbing but, especially in Italy, the Canadians sometimes received British anklets with leather straps from 8th Army stores. In 1943 the 13th Inf Bde wore Canadian-designed black boots, made higher and with a wrap-around ankle flap buckling at the outside; these were considered both comfortable and smart. For the 1944 Normandy invasion part of the 3rd Inf Div was issued with these 'invasion boots', as they now became known. They remained, however, a limited issue outside of the 3rd Inf Div in NW Europe, and are often referred to by collectors as '3rd Division boots'.

This view of a Canadian infantryman at Caen on 25 July 1944 shows the rear of the 1937 web personal equipment in battle order - of Plates E2, E3. The small pack is worn on the back, with a British General Service shovel thrust below it - the issue entrenching tool was inadequate for getting a man under cover quickly. (The British shovel had a 'T'-handle, the US equivalent a (D-handle.) The dark olive-green anti-gas cape, now used more as a rain cape, is rolled and tied to the back of his belt. Below this is the bag for his light respirator, slung around the body. On the right hip can just be seen his water bottle. On the nearside he seems to carry his nested mess tins in a second water bottle carrier of the pocket type. He has a netting face veil attached to the back of his helmet; and note the buckle- flap '3rd Div' boots. Sleeve insignia are limited to the 3rd Inf Div patch and lance-corporal's badge of rank. (Ken Bell, National Archives of Canada, PA163403)

Table 3: Regimental distinctions of Canadian Highlanders

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
RegimentTartanGlengarry dicing
Black Watch of CanadaBlack Watchplain
Highland LI of CanadaMackenzieall dark green cap
Lanark & Renfrew HsBlack Watchplain
Storrnont, Dundas & Glengarry HsMacdonell of Glengarryscarlet, white & green
Pictou HsMackenziescarlet, white & green
North Nova Scotia HsMurray of Athollscarlet, white & green
Cape Breton HsBlack Watchscarlet & white
Prince Edward Island HsBlack Watchplain
Cameron Hs of OttawaCameron of Errachtplain
Essex ScottishMacGregorscarlet, white & green
48th HsDavidsonscarlet, white & green
Argyll & Sutherland HsBlack Watchscarlet & white
Queen's Own Cameron HsCameron of Errachtplain
Calgary HsBlack Watchscarlet & white
Seaforth HsMackenziescarlet, white & green
Canadian ScottishHunting Stuartscarlet, white & green
Toronto ScottishElchoElcho blue, white & tan
Scots FusiliersBlack Watchscarlet, white & green
Lorne ScotsCampbell of Argyllscarlet, white & green

Notes: Pipers of the Black Watch and the Lanark & Renfrew had Royal Stuart tartan kilts; the Scots Fusiliers had No.11 Erskine. The Highland U, the Scots Fusiliers and the Lome Scots had trews, except for their pipers who wore kilts. Except for the Highland LI, all Glengarries were dark blue with a scarlet tuft.

Canadian Highlanders

The new BD trousers were greeted with sadness and resignation by many Canadian Highland units. They may have been a more practical garment in battle but, in their hearts, the men wished they could have retained their kilts. To make matters worse, some regiments - e.g. the Seaforths and the Calgary Highlanders - were first issued the ordinary khaki FS cap instead of the khaki Balmoral or tam-o'shanter bonnet, their tartan badge backings being the only Highland distinction left to them. The khaki tam-o'shanter bonnet was eventually issued to all Canadian Highlanders and was the only cap to be worn with BD in ерe field; but photos taken in NW Europe in 1944-45 often show Glengarries with diced bands also being worn as off-duty headgear.

Apart from the regulation distinctions listed in Table 3, a number of peculiarities were noted in various Canadian I Iighland regiments, of which the following are merely a few random examples. The Cape Breton Highlanders were mobilised in 1939 with diced Glengarries and kilts; were issued BD with bonnets, and also tropical dress with shorts and sun helmets when in Ottawa in 1941; were shipped to England and then to Italy in 1943, where the pipe band reassigned Black Watch tartan kilts, black sporrans with six tassels, red and black hose tops and Glengarries with a plain black border. The Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders had the standard issue khaki tam-o'shanter, but also bought Glengarries for even man in June 1943. Many men of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders had Murray of Atholl tartan kilts in England. (In NW Europe the regiment wore BD but nevertheless carried in the front lines - unofficially - the very Scottish-looking provincial flag of Nova Scotia, which may have been the first 'Canadian' flag planted in German soil.) The pipers of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada are said to have worn their kilts almost constantly in the field in NW Europe, though 'Wallace', their St Bernard regimental mascot made famous by the press, remained in Britain.

The steel helmet might have some added Scottish distinction. The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada had applied, from 1941, 'a two-and-a half inch square decal of the MacKenzie tartan with the regimental cap badge imposed on it' on the left side of the helmet. The Calgary Highlanders put a small square of red and white dicing on their helmets.


The personal equipments worn by Canadian servicemen had quite a convoluted history of their own. The title 'Tangled Web' given to the definitive study of this topic by the late Gen. Jack L.Summers is most appropriate, and readers are referred to it for all minute details, technical, administrative or even political.

It has often been assumed that the accoutrements worn by Canadians were identical to those of their British comrades. While this was largely true in times of national mobilisation during the World Wars, Canada did in fact evolve its own versions from the late 19th century. At that time, peculiar Canadian models of the originally British 'Oliver' equipment were adopted. These were made of dark brown leather. Although replaced with the British 1908 Web Equipment (hereafter in this text, WE 08) for nearly all troops going up to the Front in the Great War, reserve troops often kept the leather accoutrements.

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