Enlisted Uniforms of the Queen`s Own Rifles of Canada in World War Two

The Queen’s Own mobilized for the Second World War on 24 May 1940. The Regiment’s first assignment was the defence of the two strategic airfields of Botwood and Gander, Newfoundland then a posting to New Brunswick for additional training and integration into 8th Brigade. Eventually, the Regiment was posted to England, in July 1941, as a part of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division. During the Regiment’s training in the UK, the Colonel-in-Chief, Queen Mary, visited the battalion in Aldershot.

The Queen’s Own’s first action came forming part of the assault wave of the D-Day invasion, 6 June 1944. The Dalton brothers — Majors Charles O. and H. Elliott– were the assault company commanders in the landing. The Regiment hit the beach at the small Normandy seaside resort of Bernieres-sur-Mer, shortly after 0800 hours, on 6 June 1944. They fought through Normandy, Northern France, and into Belgium and Holland, where they liberated the crucial channel ports. In capturing the tiny farming hamlet of Mooshof, Germany, Sergeant Aubrey Cosens was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

The last action of the war for The Queen’s Own Rifles came at 1200 hours on 4 May, when C Company attacked a cross roads just east of Ostersander, Germany. It was taken by 1500 hours, and the order came to discontinue fire on the enemy unless fired upon. Unfortunately, two members of The Queen’s Own lost their lives on this the last day of the war in Europe. The official cease-fire came at 0800 hours on 5 May 1945 followed by VE Day on 8 May. The battalion paraded to a church at Mitte Grossefehn and Major H.E. Dalton, now the acting Commanding Officer, addressed the Regiment. During the war 463 Queen’s Own were killed in action and are buried in graves in Europe and almost 900 were wounded, many two or three times. Sixty more QOR personnel were killed serving with other units in Hong Kong, Italy and Northwest Europe.

Mobilization

During the mobilization of the Regiment in 1940 the regiment was sent straight to Camp Borden (CFB Borden). There, the Regiment got its first issue of uniforms which consisted of; Canadian Battle Dress trousers and blouse, shirt, ammo boots, Anklets,  and the pre-war QOR wedge cap. The QOR has been using the Rifleman green wedge cap ever since roughly the 1870s. The cap is a green melton wool with a scarlet Pom-pom attached to the front as well as two Rifleman small buttons. Scarlet piping is added along the top seam of the cap as well the QOR cap badge mounted on the left side.

Wedge Cap 1 - Graham
Pre war QOR Wedge cap – QOR Museum

Request for approval of the wearing of Coloured F.S. Cap NDHQ 14 October 1940

Coloured F.S. Cap

Reg H.200-1-17 of 7 Sept.

The coloured F.S. Cap worn by this Regiment, both 1st and 2nd battalions, is described below. It has been in use for many years but it is not known whether or not details are in possession of N.D.H.Q.

The pattern of the cap is slightly different from the issue cap, being more rounded in front.

Officers

Colour of cap, flaps and crown – Black

Piping top, front and back seems – Black

No piping on flaps.

Scarlet grenade 1″ in diameter attached at front of top where two top seams meet.

Height of flap at back……………….. 2 1/4″

Height of crown seam, midway….. 4″

Height of crown seam, 1/4 way back

from front seam……………… 3 3/4″

Height of junction of top seams

at front…………………………2 1/2″

Other Ranks

Colour of cap, glaps and crown – Rifle Green.

Piping top, front and back seams – Scarlet.

No piping on flaps.

Scarlet wool ball 1″ in diameter attached at front of top where two top seams meet.

Height of flap at back……2″

Height of crown seam, midway…… 3 7/8″

Height of crown seam, 1/4 way back

from front seam………3 3/4″

Height of junction of top seams

at front…….. 2 3/4″

May the above be forwarded for approval,

Please.

Lt Col

Commanding 1st. Bn. Q.O.R. of C. (CASF).

Camp Borden – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
Camp Borden – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
Camp Borden – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
Camp Borden – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
Camp Borden – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
Camp Borden – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
QOR cap badge 1940
QOR cap badge 1940 made of white metal – Graham Humphrey’s Collection

Regimental Orders by Major MacKendrick E.D. Comd 1st Bn QORofC

Camp Borden, Ontario 12 July 1940

Dress, Officers & Other Ranks

Extract C.A.S.F. R.O.521

  1. The collar of the battle dress may be worn open on all occasions during the summer season.
  2. The regulation Khaki shirt will be worn with battle dress. The wearing of various coloured shirts and collars is not permitted.
  3. Other ranks will not wear ties
  4. The collar of the blouse may be lined to protect the neck.
  5. The ribands of orders, decorations, and medals will be worn in undress, service dress and battle dress in the prescribed manner.
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940 – QOR Museum Photo
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940 – QOR Museum Photo
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940 – QOR Museum Photo
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940 – QOR Museum Photo

1940

7 August 1940 Botwood and Gander, Newfoundland

6 December 1940 Sessex, New Brunswick

Before leaving Borden in August 1940 the Regiments dress was fresh new stocks of the new Canadian made battle dress uniform. Consisting of ankle boots, ankle gators, wool trousers, suspenders, wool tunic, and wool greatcoat. As well, Canadian-made Pattern 37 webbing which consisted of basic front pouches, web belt, cross straps, canteen and holder, entrenching tool and sheath, bayonet frog, and the chest respirator were included. Additionally, Canadian-made denim working uniforms were adopted for use in training and work around camp.  The headdress was the QOR pre-war Rifleman green field service cap, the Mk1 helmet, or a wool winter toque. Shoulder insignia was a black pin-on QOR title or a worsted black QOR on a wool slip-on worn on the epaulette of the battledress.  The standard rifle was the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No. 1 Mk. III* with the long bayonet (termed a ‘sword’ in Rifle regiments) which had been in use since the First World War. Transferring from Newfoundland to Sussex, New Brunswick several changes occurred with the exchange of the Mk1 helmet to the new Mk2 helmet, and the adoption of a winter wool cap. This was worn squarely on the head with the Regimental cap badge fixed centre on the front of the front flap of the cap.

Regimental Orders by Major MacKendrick E.D. Comd 1st Bn QORofC

Camp Sussex, N.B 11 mar. 1941

Wearing of Chevrons on Greatcoats; Chevrons will be worn on both arms of greatcoats in the following manner: – above the elbow, the points of the 1 bar chevrons 9 inches, the 2 bar 9 ½ inches, and the 3 bar 10 ½ inches from the top of the sleeve, point downwards.

Regimental Orders by Major MacKendrick E.D. Comd 1st Bn QORofC

Camp Sussex, N.B. 21 dec 1940

Dress – Winter Order

Attention is drawn by the Brigade Major to the following Brigade Orders.

(a) Winter caps will be brought into wear for all purposes with effect from 27 Nov. 1940

(b) Greatcoats and/or overshoes may be worn in camp and on training parades at the discretion of Officers Commanding units.

(c) Until further orders greatcoats and overshoes will be worn on all parades, both training and ceremonia,l at which more than one unit is present.

(d) Greatcoats will be worn on all occasions in “Walking-Out Order” on duty in the town of Sussex and on leave or pass until further orders. Overshoes may be worn at  discretion of Officers Commanding units in “Walking-Out Order”.

Wearing of Winter Caps; Winter caps will be worn squarely on the head. (Bde. Order 176)

Newfoundland – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
Newfoundland – 1940 Rfn Jim Wilkins Personal Photos
QOR in Newfoundland 1940
QOR in Newfoundland 1940 – QOR Museum Photo
QOR in Newfoundland 1940
QOR in Newfoundland 1940 – QOR Museum photo
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940 – QOR Museum photo
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940
QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940 – QOR Museum photo

1941

With the transfer of the Regiment to England in July 1941, a number of changes to the accoutrement of the Regiment occurred. The change from the QOR pin-on or worsted QOR slip-on to a red stitched “QUEEN’S OWN RIFLES” on a rifle green backing occurred. Since the shoulder title didn’t include “CANADA”, the QOR adopted the white-stitched “CANADA” title – either curved or straight – which was stitched below the Regimental shoulder title. Also, we see the addition of a QOR Decal on the Mk II helmet which consisted of a red, green, red, green, and red. At this time, each Regiment in the Canadian military was permitted to adopt a lanyard colour. The QOR retained their red lanyard, which differs from the the black lanyard worn by today’s Rifle regiments. This red lanyard was worn until the end of the war.

Canadian made 1940
Canadian made 1940 – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
British made 1943
British made 1943 – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
Canada shoulder title curved made in 1940
Canada shoulder title curved made in 1940 – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
Canada shoulder title straight made in 1941
Canada shoulder title straight made in 1941 – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
QOR Helmet decal seen here in 1942
QOR Helmet decal seen here in 1942 – QOR Museum Photo

22 May 1925 Standing Orders and Instructions

204. WHISTLE CORD shall be of red cord worn around left arm under shoulder strap.

QOR Red whistle lanyard
QOR Red whistle lanyard – Graham Humphrey’s Collection

15 Dec.  1942 Standing Orders and Instructions

  1. Dress

Officers

(b) Officers will wear black anklets and boots and black ties with battledress, in field service dress, black shoes and socks, black tie and F.S.Green.

Other ranks

(e) A red whistle cord will be worn on the left shoulder by all officers, warrant officers and sergeants.

(i) Some of the irregularities noticed in the dress of the Cdn. Corps are as follows:

The wearing of canvas shoes when walking out. The battle dress blouse undone at neck, except when marching easy. Men either without F.S. Cap or carrying it under shoulder strap.

(j) Badges – On joining the unit each man will be provided free with regt. Badges, cap, shoulder badges Q.O.R., Canada and Div. Patch also cap F.S. Green. From then on he will be held responsible that he is always in possession of these articles.

(k) The F.S. Cap green will not be worn when on duty with troops, but will be only worn off duty, church parades or when walking out.

(o) Chin straps and regimental flashes will be worn on the left side of the helmet.

(p) Good conduct Stripes are awarded after two years good service and are worn on the left arm below the elbow.

QOR Officer looking over the channel
QOR Officer looking over the channel – QOR Museum Photo
QOR Sgt in Holland 1945
QOR Sgt in Holland 1945 – QOR Museum Photo
  1. Order of dress

Uniformity of dress is to be stressed at all times.

(a) Battle Order

  • Battle Dress – anklets
  • Steel Helmet (With of without net as ordered)
  • Web Equipment (braces to be worn)
  • Respirator (slung over right shoulder under waistbelt. Mounted personnel will wear respirator at alert)
  • Water Bottle (on right side)
  • Haversack (with ground sheet or gas cape as ordered)
  • Sword under left arm
  • Gas cape (on shoulder if ordered)
  • Entrenching tool
  • G1098 ammunition.

(b) Marching Order

  • As above except – pack carried in place of haversack.
  • Haversack slung at left side.
  • Respirator at “Alert Position”.

(c) Fatigue Order

  • Battle dress, denim and boots.
  • Other equipment as ordered

(d) Church Parade Order

  • Battle Dress and anklets.
  • F.S. Green Cap.
  • Respirator and helmet (if ordered)

(e) Guard and Picket Order

  • Battle Dress and anklets
  • Steel Helmets
  • Skeleton web
  • Respirator at “alert position”
  • Gase Cape (rolled on shoulder)
  • Detector sleeves

(f) Walking Out Order

  • Battle Dress
  • F.S. Green Cap
  • Anklets – (may or may not be worn).
  • Black shoes and socks may be worn by those in possession of them in lieu of boots.

(g) Drill Order with Pouches

  • Steel Helmet
  • Web braces, belts & pouches
  • Sword at left side of the belt
  • Battledress and anklets

(h) Piquet Order

  • F.S. Khaki cap
  • Waistbelt and sidearm
  • Battledress and anklet

With the formation of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, the QOR was place in its 8th Brigade with Le Regiment de la Chaudiere and the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment. The Divisional formation patch was of French Grey Melton wool fabric which measured 3 inches by 2 inches. A number of shades of this French Grey were seen throughout the war.

Canadian made 1940 Third Division flashes
Canadian made 1940 Third Division flashes – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
British 1943 made Third Division flashes
British 1943 made Third Division flashes – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
QOR 1943 tunic
QOR Riflemans 1943 tunic – Graham Humphrey’s Collection

Starting in 1941, the headdress of the Canadians changed from the pre-war QOR Rifleman Green Wedge to a Khaki wool “Field Service Cap”. This was worn with a slight angle to the right and centred on the head. The location in which the QOR cap badge was mounted was on the left side similar to the QOR rifle green wedge cap.

Canadian made 1941 Field Service Cap
Canadian made 1941 Field Service Cap – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
QOR Rifleman England 1942
QOR Rifleman England 1942 – QOR Museum Photo

1943 In mid 1943, the headdress of the Canadians changed once again with the adoption of the beret. In keeping with rifleman tradition, the wearing of a rifle green backing behind the cap badge was authorized. The backing was of Melton Rifle Green wool and roughly measured 25cm by 25 cm with the Cap Badge centred within the patch. The wearer would have the leather band of the beret two fingers over the eye brows with the Cap badge over the middle of the left eye. The excess material was draped over the right side and pulled back.

Canadian made 1944 Beret with QOR Badge and Backing
Canadian made 1944 Beret with QOR Badge and Backing – Graham Humphrey’s Collection

In 1943-44, a different QOR cap badge was introduced. Mainly seen on replacements of this time period, the cap badge contains less detail and the Arabic number “2” less defined.

1943-44 QORofC Cap Badge - Graham Humphrey's Collection
1943-44 QORofC Cap Badge – Graham Humphrey’s Collection

1944 With the coming invasion of France, the 3rd Division was issue additional kit and equipment. The most noticeable was the Mk III “turtle shell” helmet which offered more protection for the wearer than the Mk II helmet.

The second most noticeable change was the adoption of the high-top buckle boots which were tried in Italy and widely issued to the 3rd Division. This lead to the term “3rd Div boots” or “Invasion boots”. Constructed with 9 eyelets and a buckle at the top of the boot, these boots put on a more modern look and were sought-after boots.

British made Mk III “Turtle shell” Helmet with Canadian helmet net, scrim and Dressing
British made Mk III “Turtle shell” Helmet with Canadian helmet net, scrim and Dressing – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
Rfn Jim Wilkins “Invasion boots” – Rfn Jim Wilkins Collection
Rfn Jim Wilkins “Invasion boots” – Rfn Jim Wilkins Collection

Invasion Boots or High Boots - QOR Museum's Collection Invasion Boots or High Boots - QOR Museum's Collection

“Invasion boots” – QOR Musuem’s Collection

QOR in England 1944 – QOR Museum Photo
QOR in England 1944 with “Invasion boots”  – QOR Museum Photo
QOR in England 1944 – QOR Museum Photo
QOR in England 1944 with “Invasion boots” – QOR Museum Photo

Introduced around mid-1944 was the British-made canvas insignia. Examples of this come in the 3rd Division French Grey flashes, Canada titles, and “QUEEN’S OWN RIFLES” shoulder titles. These had a tendency to fade and fray.  This characteristic was not desireable.

British made Canvas QOR title 1943
British made Canvas QOR title 1943 – QOR Museum’s Collection

1945 Introduced to all Companies of the Battalion on March 19 1945 was the “Windproof Smock” which is know as today. “Coys issued with sniper jackets which beside being good camouflage are quite serviceable and waterproof” (War Diary March 19 1945 Reichswald Forest, Germany)

IMG_6870
Windproof Smock worn by this Reenactor

With the war coming to a close, the QOR was put onto occupation duty in 1945-46. To display that they were an occupation force, a single 2 cm wide occupation bar was added at the base of the 3rd Division patch. With the QOR being the senior Regiment in this Brigade, a green occupation bar was added on top of the 3rd Division patch as well.

Battledress number A is a 1945-46 occupation blouse. Notice the addition of the occupation stripe and the tailored collar with black cloth.

Battledress number B is the Battledress of the Commanding Officer of the Occupation force, Lt. Col. J. N. Medhurst OBE ED 4th Bn, QOR of C (CAOF) 8 June 1945 – 25 December 1945.

A
A – QOR Museum’s Collection
A
A – QOR Museum’s Collection
B
B – QOR Museum’s Collection
B
B – QOR Museum’s Collection

As well, a new QOR shoulder title was introduced with a more foliage green backing and hand-embroidered “QUEEN’S-OWN-RIFLES”. As well the custom of blackening web gear is seen again during 1945-46 period mainly walking out belts, pistol, pistol ammunition pouches and ankle gators.

1945 British made QOR title and Canada title
1945 British made QOR title and Canada title – Graham Humphrey’s Collection
QOR Holland 1945
QOR Holland 1945 – QOR Museum’s Photo
QOR Holland 1945
QOR Holland 1945 – QOR Museum’s Photo

Thank you for reading! Any additional information, questions or correction please send to museum@qormuseum.org

Cheers,

MCpl Graham Humphrey

27 thoughts on “Enlisted Uniforms of the Queen`s Own Rifles of Canada in World War Two”

  1. Hello, I have been to CasaLoma to the Queens Own Rifles museum, many years ago.I was dissappointed because my father was in the Q.O.R. and they had his middle initial wrong!The family recently send for info and the mistake has never been corrected.

  2. Back in 1967, QOR had the ‘Black lanyard”.
    1st. Battalion, ‘B’ Coy, 5 Platoon
    When was the Black Lanyard adopted?
    Thanks
    Joe

    1. Joe,
      Great to hear from you! The QOR wore red whistle chords from 1910 till around the late 1940s. There was correspondence between The QOR (Which was not regular army at this point still in the militia) and DND around 1946-47 about changing it to adhere to more “Rifle” traditions.
      Cheers,
      Graham

  3. Thank you. My grandfather, Bill (William) L Martin B53557, and his 4 brothers made it back from WW2. I recognize him in the ‘QOR in Sussex, New Brunswick 1940’ photo, second from right, 1st row. My great Uncle Jack, is still in Sunnybrook Veterans hospital. I have the original newspaper article with a picture of all 5 for the Warrior’s Day Parade, Aug 19, 1979. I am putting together his old uniform to honour him next Remembrance Day, and this site has been extremely informative. Grandpa’s medals are retired in the QOR museum at Casa Loma.
    Cheers,
    JP Martin CD

  4. Hello,
    My great uncle, Nicholas John (“Jack”) Luscombe (son of Annie and Edward and brother to George Luscombe) died on April 25th, 1945 and is now buried at the Holten War Memorial Cemetary in Holland. Would anyone have any information about him please? I would greatly appreciate even the slightest news.
    Thank you very much,
    Karen Luscombe.

  5. this was a wonderful job, thank you. My fathers brother John Wright fought with the QOR out of Toronto WW11. Although he never spoke a word about the war when i was young I’ve been able to collect a few things over the years in rememberance

  6. Dear The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archives,
    Can I send you an email, and if so, which email address should I write to? It is in regards to an image in this blog post for a history book about WWII published in Europe. Our deadline is Wednesday Aug. 26, 2015.
    Kind regards,
    Jasmina Nielsen

    Jasmina Nielsen
    Photo Editor
    En verden i krig / The World at War

    Bonnier Publications
    Strandboulevarden 130
    DK-2100 Copenhagen
    hbv@historiebladet.dk
    http://bonnierpublications.com/
    http://historienet.dk/

  7. Graham, I got from a reliable source, ( RSM Harry Fox) that after the murders of a number of captured Riflemen at Abbaye d’ Ardenne, the Regiment dipped their red whistle cords in black dye.

  8. Nice work although you should check your terminology and item identification, credit the photographs and list your sources. Some editing of the work would produce an excellent document.

  9. Nice presentation. One comment though, I am unaware that QOR officers wore a black neck tie in battledress uniform and this colour was normally worn by Other Ranks while officers wore a khaki tie.

      1. Are the Officer’s wearing black ties or rifle green? What do the 1945 QOR dress regulations state?

    1. Page 4 Standing Orders and Instructions 1942 “(B) Officers will wear black anklets and boots and black ties with battle dress, in field service dress, black shoes and socks, black tie and F.S.Green.”

  10. Excellent work. Simple and detailed. Would only other regiments do this for their war uniforms.
    I think this will be the authority for how the QOR was uniformed for the duration.

    Cheers,
    Dan.

  11. Excellent piece, well done. Mind if we nick the contents and the photographs for re-distributing the article in one form or another in our club?

    Keep up the good work,

    Rob

      1. Hi. Great article. My grandfather was a queens own rifle. He is on the embarkment list and was there on June 6 1944. He is enlisted as T.L. Hill. Full name Thomas Lyman. He was 19 in Sussex for training before he went to England. I believe he is the middle row 5th to the left in one of the pictures. He is listed as a rifleman but I believe he was a stretcher bearer as well. Would anyone have any info on him. He got shot by a sniper in Caen in August 1944. He survived and lived. His lived 74 years of age. Ultimately died of a heart attack in 1995. I am proud of all these men who sacrificed so much. My grandad was the best so any kind of information would be immensely appreciated.

  12. Thank you…both of my Uncles served with the QOR and were KIA on June 6, 1944. Gordon & Douglas Reed.

    Gord Reed
    Whitehorse, YT

    1. Gord,
      I would like to say that I actually have a family connection with your family. My Grandmother Glady’s use to live across the street from Gordon and Douglas Reed.
      Cheers,
      Graham Humphrey

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