Photos posted from the 1940s can be confusing, pit helmets with red hackles, glengarries with cap badges, a flash back to pre 1916, 5th Regt., Royal Highlanders of Canada. Noted 5th Regt. RHC dropped the glengarry and cap bage in 1916, while support and some still wore glengarries, or balmorals’ with the cap badge, nearing the end of FWW. Documentation on the 42nd Inf. Res. Coy Veterans Guard of Canada formation, affiliated with the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment of Canada, are scarce, the pictures are a sanifacinet historical fined. First styled as “Veterans Home Guard,” mimicking the “British Home Guard,” were authorised May 24th 1940, by G.O. 261 / 1940, renamed the Veterans Guard of Canada. Authorised independent numbered companies classified as the “Active” force, the ranks served on a full time bases, alternated throughout the Dominion and Overseas’ Service. The Reserve Coys’, consisted of city corps, stationed within that area or militia district (M.D.), I believe, a portion of VGC Coys’ veterans, especially the Reserve, were affiliated with their perspective FWW perpetuation Regiment’. The photos reveals’, the Black Watch 42nd Inf. Res. Coy VGC reflected FWW CEF Sec. Con. 42nd Inf. Battalion or the Black Watch RHR of Canada. Photo of men standing in front of the Bell tents, some members are wearing Black Watch cap-badges, while others the VGC badge, and pit helmets with red hackles. The photo of the Pipe & Drums’, fallowed by clergy, marching down de Bleury Street approaching the armoury, during Remembrance Day parade, could be probable. The city street picture, marching, wearing glengarries and trousers, looks like Sherbrooke, near Atwater, seen that distinctive church façade, in the downtown core of Montréal.
The Canadian Black Watch cape badge worn with the glengarry, only by few Officers, Officer cadets or the Pipe & Drums’ of the Regiment late 1916-2015. It’s to be noted wearing a red hackle on a glengarry in the Scottish, and Canadian BW is forbidden. 13th Prov. Inf. Battalion War Diary, dated November 16th, 1916 states; “as many men as possible were fitted out with Balmorals and Red Hackles an honour which they greatly appreciated.” A year later, on Nov. 30th 1917, the war diarist of the 42nd Inf. Battalion recorded that “the Battalion, pursuant to a request received some time prior from the 1st Bn., of Imperial Black Watch, adopted the Red Hackle as part of its head-dress.” The rank and file of the regiment wears a dark blue blamoral bonnet with the red hackle on the left side, only, preferably fanned and properly bloomed which is a file tradition, seeded post SWW.
Veterans Guard of Canada.
Corps of First World War veterans between the ages of 40 and 65, formed in May 1940, for full-time and reserve service during the Second World War. It grew to 10,000 men in 1944 with another 8,000 on part-time service. The great majority served in Canada with a few companies in Newfoundland, London (England), Nassau (Bahamas) and Georgetown (Guyana). Some veterans stood guard power plants, factories and other installations deemed essential to the war effort but most served as guards at the POW and enemy aliens internment camps in Canada. In 1944-1945, some went to India and Burma as “mule skinners”. The Veteran’s Guard continued to serve after the war until March 1947 when the last veterans were disbanded.
Veterans Guard of Canada:
As early as May 1940, the Department had created a new organization called the Veteran Guards of Canada. They assumed responsibility for guarding the captured soldiers in May 1941. The Veteran Guards consisted mostly of First World War veterans too old for battlefront duty. The maximum age for duty was fifty, but many slipped in despite their age. Veteran Guard units were formed across Canada and they were assigned several different tasks ranging from guarding military targets, dams, bridges, power plants to government installations. The most important assignment, however, was guarding POW’s. From an initial limited recruitment of a few hundred men, the Veteran Guards of Canada expanded to over 10,000 by 1943 and was 15,000 strong by 1945. At first glance, the aging First World War veteran seemed an unlikely candidate for guarding extremely well trained battle hardened enemy soldiers. Yet the guards possessed experience, and many had been POW’s themselves in (FWW). They understood the prisoner mentality and the regimen of a controlled life. The Veteran Guards were used extensively in all parts of Canada including the bush camps located on Lake of the Woods.
Please note the above are recycled status quo accounts, with similarities and differences on date’s authorised and name used, as echoed by Canadian historian, René Chartrand etc. etc.
Canadian Forces in World War II By René Chartrand: Home Service Units, Veterans’ Guard of Canada.
This was recruited from 23 May 1940 from Great War veterans aged between 40 and 65 years, for full-time and reserve service. It grew to 29 companies of 250 men each in 1942, and eventually to 10,000 men in 1944, with another 8,000 on part-time service. The VGC was posted throughout Canada, and a few companies also went to Newfoundland, to England, to Nassau in the Bahamas, and to Georgetown, Guyana. In summer 1944/ spring 1945 some veterans went to India, and eventually even to the jungles of Burma, where they were much needed as ‘mule skinners’ for the transportation system. However, the great majority served in Canada, and most of those as guards for the many POW and enemy aliens internment camps in Canada.
Most camps were built in remote areas, but some were near cities or in old forts, such as Fort Henry in Kingston or Fort Lennox south of Montreal. Throughout the war considerable numbers of mostly German POWs were shipped to Canada- at least 12,000 in 1942 alone – since its remoteness from any country except the USA made escape futile and serious misbehaviour unlikely. However, there would always be some danger for the guards; a few prisoners were Nazi fanatics who attempted to escape (after December 1941, their only hope was to try to reach Mexico), and some made weapons, such as homemade crossbow once found by guards. Such hard-core Nazis were usually persuaded to calm down by their fellow prisoners before the guards could spot them and weed them out. Those identified as troublemakers were sent to an isolated camp at Neys on the north-west shore of Lake Superior…………..The Veterans’ Guard continued to serve for some time after the war, in dwindling numbers as POWs were repatriated, until March 1947 when the last 200 veterans were disbanded.
I have the list of VGC names KOD & KIA for the SWW, in total circa 336 lost their lives.
Lest We Forget.