Every Perth reenactor must be aware that permission to wear the original regiment’s insignia and to represent Perth soldiers of the Second War was conditionally awarded by the Perth Regiment Veterans’ Association and the Directorate of History, National Defence Headquarters.
Welcome to the Perth Regiment Of Canada (Reenacted). This handbook is intended to be a guide to your uniform and to the personal turn out and deportment expected of a Perth. Among the members of the Perths are some very experienced reenactors and collectors, who are more than willing to answer your questions or help you find your kit. It is a good idea to Ask Before You Buy, to ensure you are getting the correct kit at a reasonable price.
As a minimum for the new member, the following items of kit and equipment are required:
A set of Pattern 1937 Web Equipment consisting of;
You will also need to acquire a Lee Enfield No.4 Rifle. If you do not yet have a firearms Possession And Acquisition Licence (PAL), you will need to get one before you can purchase a firearm. Talk to your Section Commander about the procedure.
Your Cap Badge and shoulder insignia can be purchased from the unit either before or at an event.
That's it, that's all you need for a start in the unit. As you progress with the Perths you will probably want to acquire another set of Battledress or a set of Khaki Drill. Maybe a second set of boots would be nice, or a Waistbelt for walking out.
The following sections are the guide to your uniform and equipment, what to get and how to wear it.
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Personal Turnout and Deportment
Pattern 37 Battledress
Pattern 37 Battledress Blouse
Pattern 37 Trousers
Making A First Field Dressing Pocket
Pattern 49 Battledress
Khaki Drill Shirts
Cotton Khaki Drill And Trousers
Web Anklets (Gaiters)
Orders Of Dress - Battle Order
Headwear - Helmet
Headwear - F.S. Cap, Berets and Soft Hats
Battle Order - Utility Pouches And Other Kit
Walking Out Order
Dress Orders - Events
A: YOUR DEMEANOUR/ATTITUDE
Every reenactor is a missionary for, not only the original Perth Regiment and the recreated unit, but for all of the Canadian Forces of the Second World War. In front of the public, he must be friendly, forthright, polite and well-spoken. Every action he takes and word he speaks will be quietly judged by the audience. Looking or acting sloppily, chomping on gum, flicking cigarette ashes carelessly about, sucking back a beer – all will be measured.
Every member has to be particularly respectful when talking to veterans. It is not our position to ‘teach’ veterans about the war, or to argue or correct his/her memories. We are to learn from them and commemorate their experiences and achievements. If a veterans’ memory seems incorrect, be respectful, not argumentative.
PATTERN 37 BATTLEDRESS
This woollen, serge uniform was adopted by Britain in 1937 and soon after in Canada (Ptn39) and became the standard for temperate climate wear during the Second World War. Although some Commissioned Officers wore a more formal uniform known as Service Dress on ceremonial occasions, BD became common for all ranks to wear on all occasions from medal awards at Buckingham Palace to the front lines in Italy and northern Europe.
Canadian-made BD was a darker, greener shade of khaki compared to British and, because of its higher quality wool and tailoring, was preferred in both armies. Due to financial strain, the British introduced a second pattern in 1940, which eliminated several of the classier features of the early pattern and cut the garments far closer to the body. This was known as the Economy, or Ptn40 version.
At times, when supplies of Canadian BD ran short, British BD was issued in its stead. In consequence, both Canadian and British BD are acceptable for Perth reenactors.
(i) Blouse: The BD uniform consisted of two items. First, a short jacket with an integral, cloth, buckled belt. This was officially known as a Blouse. When properly worn, the garment was fashionably bloused over its own belt, or over a web Waistbelt if worn. The Blouse had two exterior, pleated patch pockets at breast height with flaps and hidden buttons and two, very deep, inside breast-level slash pockets. Three hidden buttonholes are at the back of the blouse and these are to be fastened to matching buttons on the Trousers, which prevents the two garments from gapping. The Blouse had two cloth epaulettes which were buttoned in place. Commissioned Officers wore their rank insignia on the epaulettes. In the early war, Canadian BD Blouses had hooks and eyes on the collars; later in the war, a button and tab was substituted.
On all formal, or ceremonial occasions, the BD Blouse is worn buttoned to the top with the collar either hooked or buttoned over. Reenactors should remember to button the Blouse to the top and ‘hook or button over’ the collar before falling in. Blouses are to be kept buttoned up and ‘hooked over’ until the top ranking officer or NCO permits them to be opened. Therefore, it is the duty of the top ranking man on the ground, to see that all Blouses are buttoned correctly when the men have fallen in on the first parade and it is his duty to remember to order ‘unhooking’ at the first appropriate moment.
All buttons, on the Blouse and the Trousers, were secured when the soldier fell in on parade.
For very best, or No.1 use, Ptn 37 Canadian-made BD Blouses are preferred. British Ptn37 or 40 Blouses are perfectly acceptable. However, due to a decreasing supply and rising cost of original Ptn37 Blouses, the recreated Perths have accepted as direct substitutes for No.1 use, Greek and Dutch BD Blouses and Trousers, which are very similar in pattern and shade of khaki. Also, correctly-modified postwar (Ptn47 or 49) BD Blouses are acceptable. In addition, reproduction suits of BD are available in Canada and the United States. These generally follow British tailoring and appointments and shade of cloth, but are perfectly acceptable.
All No.1 Blouses are to be worn with Perth Regiment Shoulder Titles and plain Divisional Patches. The Perth Regiment title is worn centered on the sleeve 1/4 inch below the shoulder seam. The plain 5th Canadian Armoured Division distinguishing patch is worn centered on the sleeve 3 inches below the shoulder seam. Where applicable, members authorised to wear service chevrons will wear them on the right cuff as shown in the photo. No other insignia is permitted to be worn on a Perth blouse by a Private soldier.
Near the close of the war in Europe, fashion-conscious Canadian soldiers had their Blouse collars tailored to lay permanently open and flat. This new style meant that the men’s Shirts were constantly seen and, for that reason, ties were worn, black for the Other Ranks and tan for Commissioned Officers. Judging from photographic evidence, such modified collars were not worn in combat. Men who were off duty and walking-out in public were allowed to wear their Blouse collars open whether modified or not, and ties were worn as a strict rule.
When on duty in front of the public, Blouses must always be buttoned and hooked, unless specifically ordered otherwise by the ranking officer or NCO.
Unlike modern trousers, BD Trousers rose well above the soldier’s hips to his waist. The trouser legs were loose, not form-fitting. On the upper right leg, there was a small patch pocket to carry a small bandage called the First Field Dressing when on active service. On the left leg above the knee, was a large patch pocket to carry maps or the like. At the front were two, deep ‘slash’ pockets and on each buttock, internal pockets with buttoned down flaps and hidden buttons.
As original Ptn37 Trousers are extremely scarce and expensive, the unit has long accepted the substitution of Ptn49 Trousers. The latter Trousers do not have the First Field Dressing pocket on the right thigh, although keen members often find a small piece of serge of matching colour, tailor one and mount it.
The field dressing pocket was 4 inches wide by 6 inches high, had a flat pleat in the center and was secured at the top by a button. The precise location of the pocket depended on the size of the trousers, but was usually about 1 1/2 inches forward of the edge of the thigh pocket and 6 to 7 inches down from the waist. Minor variations in size and pattern may be found between manufacturers.
Making A First Field Dressing Pocket
1. Obtaining the materials. You will need a piece of battledress material measuring 6 inches wide by 7 inches high. Matching material is preferable, keeners can remove a piece from the area of the trousers covered by the map pocket, and replace it with another piece of cloth. You will also need a steel battledress button and khaki thread.
2. Cut the wool to size and dampen. Make a 3/4 inch fold along the top edge, iron flat and stitch the fold in place using 2 rows of stitching. At the center of the top edge, measure down 1/4 inch and cut a vertical slit 1 inch long. This can be hemmed with stitching and is the button hole. Turn over and fold the wool in half lengthwise, then fold it 1/4 inch back on itself to make a center pleat, and iron flat. Stitch the pleat only at the top and bottom.
3. Turn the wool over so that the crease is on the underside. Now fold over the bottom edge so that the pocket measures 6 inches from top to bottom. Iron the fold.
4. Now fold and stitch the sides so that the pocket measures 5 inches across. In the example shown, fabric glue was used to hold the folds in place, this can help in construction but takes some practice. All edges were hemmed to minimise fraying.
5. Position the pocket in the desired location on the trousers and sew the sides and bottom, leaving the top edge open. Sew the button in place. Press the new pocket flat using a damp cloth to prevent shiny areas on the wool.
On Ptn37 Trousers, a buttoned-over tab tightly closed the leg bottoms, so that Web Anklets or cloth Puttees could be worn over top. With Ptn49 Trousers, there were often two tabs, which produced a more evenly folded-over appearance. On many Trousers of either pattern, the tabs and buttons have been removed, to make the bottom of the Trousers look neater when worn off-duty without Anklets or Puttees. Another variation is the bottom of the Trousers’ legs are turned up slightly and hemmed with a bootlace run through, so that the bottom could be neatly tied tight before putting on the Anklets or Puttees.
For Trousers without tabs or bootlaces, the bottom of the leg can be box folded, or ‘boxed’ (see photos) and laces tied around the outside before putting on the Anklets.
When walking out in public without Anklets or Puttees, all cuff tabs must be buttoned.
Between events, Trousers should be hung from the leg bottoms by pant hangers, not folded over a hanger, as the latter leaves an obvious, amateurish crease across the middle of the leg.
Although BD Trousers have large belt loops, it appears that they were rarely worn with a Waistbelt if the Blouse was also being worn. Virtually all soldiers held their Trousers up with Suspenders. All belt loops are to be buttoned on formal occasions.
(iii) PATTERN 49 BATTLEDRESS BLOUSES
In order to get new recruits into the field as soon as possible, the reenactment unit has long accepted the substitution of postwar, Ptn49 Blouses which continue to be relatively inexpensive and much easier to find. This pattern features the late-war, permanently folded back collar. Ideally, the Ptn49 Blouse will not be worn at formal, ceremonial events. Many members use this pattern exclusively for field exercises to protect their No.1 Ptn37 Blouses from damage and wear.
Because the Ptn49 Blouse is considered a No.2 item to be used exclusively for field work, or as a stop-gap, the regimental insignia to be put up are the 5th Armoured Division’s Patches Distinguishing and CANADA Flashes. The CANADA flashes are worn centered on the sleeve 1 1/2 inches below the shoulder seam. The 5th Armoured Division Patches Distinguishing are worn centered on the sleeve 3 inches below the shoulder seam.
E: KHAKI DRILL
A type of uniform collectively known as Khaki Drill (KD) was worn by Canadians in the Italian Campaign during hot weather. KD was generally of British or Indian manufacture, some KD made in the USA was also worn. Original KD in wearable condition is usually expensive and hard to find, however very good reproductions are availible. Original KD was made of cotton drill material or a loose weave cloth known as Aertex. Both types have been reproduced. Canada also made a uniform known as Khaki Drill, it was heavier and a greener shade than the British or Indian KD. It was worn only in Canada and Bermuda and was not worn overseas.
F: Leather Jerkin
In cold or wet weather a leather jerkin was very popular. The jerkin was sleeveless and lined with either a worsted wool fabric or heavy battledress material. British made Jerkins usually were a medium brown in colour, Canadian Jerkins were a much darker brown. Both British and Canadian patterns were worn. Postwar British Jerkins are made of a vinyl material but closely resemble wartime patterns. Postwar Jerkins are quite acceptable.
G: WEB ANKLETS
Web Anklets or Gaiters covered the area where the trousers tucked in to the boots. They were made in 4 sizes, size 1 being the smallest. Made of khaki coloured web material, they usually have leather or canvas reenforcements on the inside. Canadian made anklets have web straps, British made anklets had either web or leather straps. Both Canadian and British anklets were worn by Canadians.
Canadian Anklets worn with
British Anklets worn with
Khaki Drill trousers.
Puttees are made of greenish khaki or brown wool and are wrapped around the calf over the top of the boots and bottom of the trousers. Puttees worn during the Second World War are known as "short puttees" and were normally about 42 inches long with 54 inch long tapes. They were superior to Web Anklets in keeping sand and pebbles out of the boots and provided better ankle support than Web Anklets. Light fawn coloured puttees are the perogative of Officers and Warrant Officers and are not to be worn by Other Ranks.
Both Canadian and British pattern boots were worn by the Perths during the Second World War. British made boots have toecaps, Canadian boots do not. The black Boot, Ankle, Militia, G.S. or "ammunition boot" and it's British equivalent were the standard footwear worn by Other Ranks. These boots were made with leather uppers and leather soles. Canadian Army Ankle boots made from the 1950s through the 1970s are similar in appearance to wartime boots but have rubber soles. Boots were worn with heel and toe irons or cleats to reduce wear on the soles. Boots will be straight (ladder) laced. It is recommended that you have two pairs of boots, one for the field and a pair for parade wear.
ORDERS OF DRESS, ACCOUTREMENTS AND ARMS
A: BATTLE ORDER - RIFLEMAN
Battle order consists of the Waistbelt, Braces, 2 Basic Pouches, Bayonet, Scabbard and Frog, and Waterbottle and Waterbottle Carrier. This is the minimum equipment required by a rifleman. Depending on the event Warning Order other equipment may be worn such as entrenching tool and carrier, small pack, rain cape/gas cape, ammunition bandolier or shovel. Generally on field tacticals any or all of the above MAY be carried. Bear in mind however, that your equipment load will get heavier before it gets lighter. The helmet is the preferred headwear, period photos show that in combat, helmets were almost universally worn. On events or demonstrations where the type of headwear is optional, Officers and NCOs should set an example by wearing the helmet rather than the beret.
(i) Web Equipment
What To Acquire:
Pattern 1937 Web equipment may be of either war dated or postwar manufacture, and so long as it is of wartime pattern, it is acceptable. Pattern 37 Web was made by almost every major Commonwealth country, and it is all interchangeable. When it was manufactured, web equipment ranged in shade from a sandy yellow (Canadian manufacture) to a greyish khaki (British), some web made in other Commonwealth countries had a distinct greenish cast. It was also made in blue/grey or white for the Air Force or Military Police respectively. After issue, web equipment was often "blancoed" or touched up with web dressing or cleaner and may have a shiny green or almost painted look to it. Web with this type of finish should generally be avoided.
The metal tabs, buckles and fittings were generally made of brass, but some web had grey steel fittings or brass with a brown phosphated finish known as "battle brass". Note: Web equipment with black steel fittings was made postwar and should be only worn by the Perths if the black steel has been overpainted with brown or khaki flat matte enamel, or the fittings are not visible. Unpainted black steel fittings are acceptable for tacticals, however web equipment with brass fittings is preferred.
It is not necessary that the colour of your web set matches exactly, soldiers wore what they were issued and quartermasters were not concerned that the equipment matched in colour, manufacturer or date. It is advisable however that the webbing be in good condition, and the colour match be at least reasonably similar between items. A keen reenactor may want a set of webbing of all Canadian or all British wartime manufacture.
There are dozens of variations in manufacturing details of the Pattern 1937 Web Equipment, these are beyond the scope of this document. Collectors may wish to check out the Perth website links for more information and reference material.
Waistbelt The Pattern 1937 Waistbelt comes in 3 lengths, Short, Normal and Long. It has brass buckles and brass or cloth sliding "keepers". There are two brass buckles on tabs at the rear. There are flat cloth loops sewn into the back of the belt, these are intended for wire tabs to hold individual pieces of equipment in place. It is advisable to have two waistbelts, one for field wear and a "best belt" for Walking Out or parades. This also avoids having to constantly assemble and dissassemble your webbing.
Bayonet, Scabbard and Frog
There were 4 patterns of Basic Pouches made by Canada and several similar British patterns, one of the most common types of Canadian Pouches is illustrated. No matter which pattern, they all have 3 identifying features: a snap fastener, ladder type buckle, and a pair of hooks on the back. You will need 2 basic pouches, they should match in appearance.
Waterbottle and Carrier
1. Adjust the Waistbelt over your Battledress to fit your waist.
2. Slide the Bayonet Frog onto the Waistbelt.
3. Attach the Braces to the Waistbelt buckles at the back. Adjust the length so that you have long enough loose ends at the back for attaching the Waterbottle Carrier.
4. Attach the basic pouches as shown, and run the brace ends through the bottom 2 slots on the Basic Pouch tabs, leaving the top slot empty.
5. Attach the Water Bottle.
When fitted properly the Web Equipment should fit snugly and around the waist, and not constrict your chest.
Wartime images of Canadian soldiers in combat invariably show the helmet being worn by all ranks. The helmet worn is usually the Canadian or British made Mark II. It will be worn with or without netting, depending on the Dress Instructions for the event, however on tacticals and battle demonstrations the helmet is normally worn with netting and scrim. It is very rare to see hessian or burlap worn under the helmet net, this was specifically prohibited in Army regulations.
Alternatively, the Mark III helmet may be worn. Sometimes known as the "Invasion Helmet" it was first issued in large quantity to Canadian soldiers for the Normandy Landings. Small numbers of the Mk III helmet appear to have been worn by Perths in NW Europe in early 1945. This helmet will not be worn by Perths doing an Italian Campaign impression. The similar Mark IV helmet if modified to resemble a Mark III and worn with netting and a khaki chinstrap is also acceptable. The Mark II helmet is the preferred pattern however.
Field Service Cap:
The Field Service Cap or F.S. Cap in modern parlance is known as a wedge cap. In the Italian Campaign it was worn well into 1944, when it was eventually replaced by the beret. The F.S. cap is worn square on the head, tilted to the right. The F.S. cap is the preferred soft cap worn with K.D. when parading or off duty. Although it is called a Field Service Cap, it is NOT worn in the field on schemes.
General Service Cap:
The British General Service or G.S. Cap was widely issued to Perths in Italy. In general appearance it is similar to a beret, but has a noticable seam around the top of the body and a wide headband. Original examples are getting hard to find but they are being reproduced.
The Canadian beret was made of khaki coloured wool with a brown leather band. Unlike modern berets the body was much larger and fuller and it did not have a badge stiffener. The beret is worn centered on the head with the band about two fingers width above the eyebrow. The beret was pulled to the right and the cap badge is centered over the left eye. Some soldiers put a celluloid or cardboard stiffener inside the beret to raise and center the cap badge. Note that during the Second World War, berets were NOT intentionally shrunk as is modern practice. A large floppy beret was the style for the period. The Perth badge will always be highly polished. Canadian WWII pattern berets are harder to find in good head sizes, however these are being reproduced.
Cap Comforter or Balaclava:
The brown or khaki British Cap Comforter or Balaclava was worn in cold or wet weather and was often worn under the helmet. They may be pulled down to protect the ears and face in extreme weather. Balaclavas will only be worn on field schemes and are particularly useful in winter or on night patrols when helmets are not worn. Note that a cap badge is not worn on this headwear.
Post war khaki coloured Canadian Army khaki balaclavas are permitted.
A shortened version of the balaclava known as a scullcap was also worn in cold weather, quite often under the helmet.
B: BATTLE ORDER - THE LITTLE EXTRAS
Period photographs of Canadian soldiers in the field show a considerable variety of extra kit and equipment in wear. For Public Demonstrations an event Warning Order will specify if extra kit and equipment over and above the basic Battle Order is to be worn, and by whom. For most non-public events, the wearing of extra kit is generally up to the individual member.
Note well that wearing or carrying captured enemy or unusual Allied weapons or equipment was very rare and that photographs showing these in use by Canadian soldiers were invariably staged for publicity purposes.
Utility Pouches will only be worn by designated members.
Only Bren and 2 inch mortar detachment members will wear the basic Battle Order as above, with the addition of Utility Pouches. The Utility Pouch set consists of two Utility Pouches, a Yoke and a Brace. This enables the detachment member to carry an extra 6 Bren magazines or mortar bombs. The Utility Pouch is similar to the Basic Pouch, but is larger, has a wider buckle at the top for the Yoke and a loop on the back for the Brace.
Sten Pouches will only be worn by designated members.
When the 1937 Pattern Web was first designed, there was no provision for a magazine pouch for the Sten sub-machinegun, as the Sten had not yet been invented. Upon the adoption of the Sten, soldiers were unable to carry the magazines in the standard Basic Pouches as the magazines were too long. This was rectified by altering the pouch by adding a small piece of webbing to the top. This pattern was eventually standardised. Two Sten Pouches will be carried by soldiers armed with the Sten, they are attached to the webbing in exactly the same manner as the Basic Pouches.
Enamel mugs were often carried, attached to one of the straps on the Small Pack. The most common types are white enamel with blue trim or brown. Postwar British patterns are available and inexpensive.
Rifle Ammunition Bandolier:
Infantrymen in combat commonly carried one or more cloth rifle ammunition bandoliers slung over the shoulder. Made of khaki cotton, the bandolier has 5 pockets secured by a wire clip. A version of bandolier with a slit flap and no wire clips was also used. Each pocket holds two 5 round charger clips.
Shovels And Picks:
Period photographs show that Picks or Shovels were very commonly carried by Canadian infantrymen. Either was greatly superior to the Entrenching Tool for digging slit trenches or fire trenches.
C: WALKING OUT ORDER
Walking Out Order is worn when off duty and also may be ordered for parades or when manning displays. Walking Out dress normally consists of headwear (Beret or F.S. Cap with polished cap badge), well pressed No1. Battledress Blouse and Trousers, Waistbelt, Web Anklets and blackened Boots. When Walking Out Order is worn off duty a khaki shirt and black tie is optional.
DRESS ORDERS - EVENTS
There are several types of events attended by the recreated Perths and each requires a particular order of dress and equipment.
1. Public Ceremonial – Includes parades, funerals and marches. This requires the highest order of personal care and pride, as the reenactor carries the reputation of original regiment, as well as that of his recreated unit, in his hands. If his personal turnout or deportment is marginal, the public gets the impression that the original regiment was ‘not up to scratch’ and lacked soldierly capabilities.
NOTE WELL – the public will not simply think that the reenactor doesn’t understand what is correct and important, but conclude that the men who originally wore the regimental insignia didn’t either.
Haircut - Particularly important is the haircut. One of the most disrespectful features of a poor turnout is an incorrect haircut. Even the most cursory examination of photographs of the Second War will prove to the reenactor that the soldier of that era wore his hair short, tapered at the sideburns, sides and neck. No matter how carefully the reenactor wears his uniform, stands erect and soldierly, has his insignia polished, his boots blackened, an incorrect haircut spoils all his effort and signals to the audience that he nothing but an amateur.
Webbing – At Public Ceremonial events where a ‘Walking-Out’ P-37 Waistbelt (see below) is required, the metal fittings on the belt, front and back, will be highly polished. The webbing of the ‘Walking-Out’ belt will be spotlessly clean.
In the unit’s Warning Order for the event, the command structure will designate if the Walking-Out belt is to mount a frog, bayonet & scabbard. If so, the frog is to be spotlessly clean and the bayonet is to be mounted in the scabbard correctly (see below.)
Many ceremonial marches require the wearing of Battle or Fighting Order Webbing and Helmets. The unit Warning Order will designate the exact order of Webbing to be worn and whether Helmets are with or without Nets. Members will adhere to this instruction without deviation and remove all the little extras that are not called for.
2. Public Static Displays – at such events, Perth reenactors are manning and animating a display intended for public consumption. Again, the highest order of personal care and pride should be shown.
Individual members will likely be asked to dress in different uniforms illustrating the whole range of the original Perth experience. Each man will take great care that his haircut is correct, his uniform spotlessly clean and in excellent repair and well pressed. He will wear additional kit as required for his specific presentation.
NOTE WELL: Other than holstered, deactivated or mock handguns, which must be carried in a holster with shut flap, Perth reenactors will not carry firearms of any kind while manning the display.
3. Public Demonstrations – these events include simulated battles, ‘combat’ marches, animated camps and serving as extras in films/videos. On such occasions, members will most likely be expected to be uniform in order of dress. i.e. all in BD or all in KD. Cloth headdress will not be mixed – either all berets or all service caps. The event warning order will designate the degree of informality; the order of Webbing and the ‘accessories’ to be worn or carried such as Jerkins, Shovels or Picks, Spare Barrel Carriers, Utility Pouches and by whom.
Again, as the members are wearing Perth insignia, their uniform and kit will be neat and clean, even to the extent of being for too clean, rather than too dirty. When the public sees soldiers on a march, they don’t expect to see filthy examples, whether that would be correct or not. Perth reenactors are not going to revise the public’s view of history and discredit the original regiment in the process.
When serving as film extras, the degree of wear and ‘dirtiness’ will be consistent with the Director’s instructions; however, members should remember that, other than a fugitive moment of on-screen glory, there’s nothing to be gained by ruining original kit.