Category Archives: Canada

Canadian REL Binoculars

Research Enterprises Ltd was a short lived Canadian company set up during World War Two to produce optics and electronics for the allied war effort. The company started producing war materiel in 1941 in Toronto and quickly became one of the region’s largest employers. By 1946 however the company was no more, like many firms set up by the Canadian government, once war was over REL was wound up.

As well as making radar equipment and sniper scopes, one of the most numerous products produced by the firm were binoculars for use by Canadian troops and allies. There were approximately 50,000 pairs of 6×30 binoculars produced by the company and it is a pair of these we are looking at tonight:imageUnlike the Second World War British and Indian binoculars we have looked at on the blog before, this pair do not copy the WW1 British prismatic binocular design, but rather have a far more modern and ergonomic shape to the main body:imageThis is coated in a special non slip black paint finish that helps the user keep hold of the binoculars regardless of sweat or moisture. The reverse of the binoculars have two lugs braised onto the main barrels to allow a neck strap to be attached:imageThe focus of the lenses is adjusted on the individual eyepieces, which thread in and out to change the focal length. A graduated scale is engraved onto each eyepiece:imageThe top of each barrel is engraved, the left hand one has the /|\ mark and the power of the binoculars themselves:imageThe letters CBG53GA are a Canadian Army stores code and the GA indicates that this pair were originally issued with a case. The right hand side indicates that REL produced this set in 1943 in Canada and gives details of the settings of the reticules inside the lenses:imageThe quality of these binoculars is excellent and I can imagine them being a popular choice amongst British officers as well as with the Canadians. When manufactured, the binoculars were tested by spraying with water and being dropped six feet into sand. A number of cases can be found for the binoculars. As well as fitting in the standard 37 pattern binocular case, a rexine-type case is also found with these optics, in both a black and a very dark green colour.

Canadian 37 Pattern Basic Pouches

I have slowly been working on building up my Canadian 37 pattern webbing collection over the last few months, I have a British set and an Indian set, whilst South African and Australian are a little trickier to find so for now the Canadian set is the one I am working on.

Recently I have picked up a pair of basic pouches and they have a number of distinctive Canadian features that are worth examining closer:imageIt is worth reminding ourselves of the description from the 37 pattern webbing manual:

Basic pouches- These are interchangeable, and are rectangular in shape to contain two Bren Gun magazines each, or a number of grenades, or S.A.A. A buckle is provided at the top of each pouch for attachment of the brace; this buckle has a loop at the top which serves for connecting the hook on the shoulder strap. Two double hooks are fitted to the back of each pouch for attachment to the waistbelt.

Compared to British made pouches the strap securing the box lid is 1″ wide compared to 3/4″ of the standard pattern:imageEarly Canadian basic pouches had the same 3/4″ wide strap, but seem to have swapped over to the wider pattern in around 1941. Despite these pouches late date of manufacture, the underside of the lid still retains three loops to hold Ballistite cartridges for grenade launchers:imageThe second major difference is the top brass buckle on each pouch, which is of a completely different design to that used in other parts of the Empire:imageThe rear of the pouch has a pair of ‘C’ hooks:imageThis pouch is particularly well made, as is typical of Canadian manufacture. This pair was made in 1943 by Zephyr Loom and Textile:imageThe Canadian acceptance mark of a /|\ inside a ‘C’ is stamped on the underside of each pouch lid:imageLike much Canadian webbing found today, this pair of pouches is in almost unissued condition and is another great addition to my little set. I find collecting up the Empire variants of 37 pattern and the various pack fillers to be great fun and hopefully I can continue to fill out my collection.

Browning Hi Power

Observant readers may have noticed that in some of the posts on holsters over the last few years I have been using a Browning Hi-Power to illustrate how they work. I try not to do weapons posts too often as I don’t have an unlimited supply of different deactivated guns and I want to spread them out a bit, that being said it is a long time since we last looked at a firearm on this blog and it seemed about time we looked at the Hi Power.

The Hi Power was developed in the interwar period by FN of Belgium to meet a French Army requirement. John Moses Browning started work on the pistol’s development but died before it reached its final iteration. The design was however developed and was ultimately ready for service by 1935. The French chose a different model, but it was adopted by the Belgians and was one of the most modern hand guns in service at the start of World War Two.

When Germany invaded Belgium in 1940, the designers at FN fled to England with the designs of the hi Power and after much tortuous negotiation it was agreed that a production facility would be set up in Canada by the Inglis company. Manufacture was started in 1944 and the Canadian produced for themselves, the British and received large contracts for Nationalist Chinese Forces. It is one of these Chinese contract guns we are looking at tonight:imageimageThe Hi Power is a 9mm automatic that can hold 13 rounds in its double stack magazine. The magazine is released by a button on the grip, a spring pushing the magazine down and out ready for reloading:imageThis pistol was designed as a military handgun from the start and so features a prominent lanyard loop:imageAs a Chinese contract Hi Power there are a number of distinctive features to this weapon. Firstly the rear sight is an adjustable tangent sight out to 500 yards (!):imageQuite how it was expected to hit anything at this range with a 9mm round is beyond me, but a slot was fitted to the rear to allow a shoulder stock to be fitted:imageThis was a popular feature for the Chinese who had first started using shoulder stocked pistols during the Warlord era when broom-handled Mausers were imported into the country in huge quantities with shoulder stocks to circumvent international embargos on long arms. By the Second World War most other nations had decided shoulder stocks and long range adjustable sights on a pistol were a waste of time, however they remained the preferred choice of the Chinese.

The pistol is marked along the sides of the slide, with the name of the manufacturer and Chinese characters indicating that it is the property of the Chinese Nationalist Army:imageThe opposite side of the pistol has the serial number on both the slide and the barrel:imageThe CH indicates that this pistol was produced for China and it was manufactured in August 1945. Having acquired this pistol several years ago, this example still strips down into its component parts, although the deactivation process is very obvious with the large hole cut in the breach!imageDespite being made for a Chinese contract, I doubt this pistol ever made it to China. The contract was cancelled before it was delivered (mainly because the Chinese nationalists seemed to be more interested in killing Chinese communists rather than the Japanese) and the stock of pistols was absorbed into the Canadian Army’s inventory. This example has never been upgraded or modified post war and so today is a rare piece.

RCAF Egg Cup

Tonight we have an example of a crested Royal Canadian Air Force egg cup to look at. This egg cup is very large and made out of white glazed pottery in a distinctive double ended design:imageThe RCAF badge is a blue transfer that has been added before glazing:imageThe egg cup has two ends. The conventional way up has a particularly large holder for an egg, the size of which becomes very obvious when a standard chicken’s egg is placed inside:imageThis is clearly far too large and was probably designed for either duck or goose eggs. Turning the egg cup upside down however gives us a much more standard size cup that holds an egg in the usual fashion:imageThis design seems to have been popular in the 1930s and it suggests that the eating of different types of eggs was much more prevalent than it is today where most people typically only eat hen’s eggs. The other theory is that the large space is used to keep a second egg warm whilst eating a first. Once that egg is finished, just swap the two over and you have your second boiled egg still nice and warm.

Breakfast was an essential part of the day to any RAF personnel, but most especially aircrew about to set out on a mission as John Clark recalls:

Have you ever wondered what we pilots ate during the war?

I was 17 and a half, based at 106 Squadron, Metheringham, Lincolnshire. We flew every day, with just the occasional day off.

The day began with egg and bacon — one of each, I think, although there may have been a second rasher if we were lucky. I can’t remember if we had this every day. There were Corn Flakes, and Camp coffee — that’s concentrated liquid coffee, to which hot water was added; it wasn’t fresh. Milk was powdered. We were glad to get it.

Canadian Produced 37 Pattern Cartridge Carrier

One thing I really enjoy about the different locations of production for 37 pattern webbing around the globe is how different factories came up with different solutions to the same problems. Of all the countries that produced 37 pattern webbing, Canada’s pieces are arguably the best quality of all, but they made a number of changes to the basic design to suit their own industrial capacity and tonight we have one of the most striking examples of this when we consider the 37 pattern cartridge carrier produced in Canada:imageIt is useful to compare this design with that produced in Britain (see here). The most important point to observe is that British firms (more specifically Mills) had looms that could do reduction weaving, this allowing the tapered pockets needed for cartridges to be produced in one motion on a machine. Canada lacked this technology so instead used a clever system of folds and stitching to achieve the same effect on each pocket. The second feature to note is that when the top flap of each pouch is opened a tab is sewn to the inside to prevent the cartridges form being able to fall free by accident:imageLike the British design, a pair of male studs is provided to cater for both full and empty pouches. The third major difference is harder to spot, but the British design had an internal divider to separate the two Lee Enfield chargers. The Canadian design does not, just having a single, large, open pocket:imageThe rear of the carrier is broadly similar to the British version, with a pair of ‘C’ hooks to attach it to the waist belt and the brace attachment sewn above to allow the shoulder braces to fasten on:imageThis example is stamped ‘ZL&T Ltd 1940’ on the rear:imageThis indicates it was manufactured by Zephyr Loom and Textile Ltd, one of the two largest manufacturers of accoutrements in Canada.

Canadian Spare Bulb Tin

When a military vehicle was rolled out of the factory it was, of course, equipped with a selection of tools and spare parts so that any minor problems could be attended to by its driver when in service. One obvious set of spares to include were replacement bulbs for head and tail lights, these always being vulnerable parts on a lorry and subject to breaking or indeed just blowing out through use. Bulbs are fragile so they were packaged in a small metal tin to protect them:imageThis tin is painted in olive green and stencilled on the top “Bulbs”:imageThe lid is hinged and opens up to give access to the light bulbs within:imageA cardboard tray was slotted inside to hold the bulbs secure and it appears that this tin originally held three bulbs, a piece of tissue paper being scrunched up over the top to protect the glass from knocks. My tin is missing the cardboard insert, but this is what would originally have been in the tin:ImageUploadedByTapatalk1334829587_149334_jpg_57c3554564271f23e66e9c0952192a6fThe round corners of the tin indicate that my one is of Canadian manufacture (British examples having square corners). These would have been carried on Canadian CMP trucks, such as the leading vehicle here:Royal_Air_Force_Operations_in_the_Middle_East_and_North_Africa,_1939-1943__CM5067

North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment Soup Bowl

I really like mess china, but items do not come up for sale too frequently. Therefore I was very pleased to be able to add a soup bowl from the Canadian North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment:imageThe soup bowl is made of white china, with a green band around the interior. The regiment’s cap badge is positioned in the centre of the inside of the bowl:imageThis is transfer printed and has a King’s crown indicating the bowl dates form before 1952. The current version of the badge is identical but with a Queen’s Crown:North-shore-nb-regtThere are no maker’s marks on the underside of the bowl:imageBut there is some beige decoration on the outside and on each handle:imageThis bowl was purchased in the UK and by according to the seller had not been purchased outside this country. This then most likely dates it to the regiment’s service during World War Two. During the Second World War, the regiment was first stationed in Woodstock, New Brunswick and then Sussex, New Brunswick. When it shipped overseas, it was initially stationed in Liverpool, after that it moved to Scotland near the castle of the Duke of Argyll.

 

On June 6, 1944, the regiment participated in the landing on Juno Beach, landing on Nan Red sector and losing nearly 50 men. On June 10, it liberated the town of Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, Calvados. Newsreel footage of the North Shore Regiment landing under fire taken by the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit became one of the most-used film depictions of the Allied D-Day landing.

On July 4, 1944, the men of the North Shore Regiment participated in Operation Windsor, the attack on the Carpiquet airfield. It lost nearly 130 men, and it was later known by the regiment’s chaplain as the “graveyard of the regiment”. The regiment later fought in Caen and all through France, continuously advancing with the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade. It fought in places like Ranville, Bourguebus Ridge, Falaise, Quesnay Wood, the Laison and Chambois.juno-4-2_2-NorthShoreRegimentonpatrolIt helped clear the coast of France in late August and early September 1944, then it advanced into the Netherlands, taking part in the Battle of the Scheldt. It fought in Breskens Pocket in flooded fields and harsh conditions. After the Scheldt, it moved onto the rest of the Netherlands, fighting near the Bergsche Maas River at Kapelsche Veer.

In February 1945, it moved into Germany via amphibious landing. It fought in the Rhineland, the Hochwald, but then it doubled-back to the Netherlands and conquered the Twente Canal, and liberated Zutphen where it met its most brutal urban fighting since Caen. It then moved back into Germany in April, and it ended the war on German soil.