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The Never-ending Roaming of Navy Accoutrements

FSTO

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This post was inspired by a picture from one of my sister naval officers who received another recognition of her outstanding service to Queen and Country. I’ll only use Commanders of the RCN/MARCOM/RCN as my models due to the lack of pictures of other officers and ranks, ahem Naval Blindness :cool: . It started out as just a little post but has kinda grew. Sorry, not sorry!

IMO the Royal Canadian Navy since its inception, demise and rebirth (somewhat) the accoutrements have been wandering about the uniform like a lost calf who got outside of the electric fence. For the longest time, 1910 to 1968 the placing of medals and such followed the traditions of the Commonwealth and the only difference was the amount of time served in actual naval actions at sea.

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The RCAF and Canadian Army has never really had this issue. The Army’s uniform didn’t really change much at unification and their accoutrements have never really moved from their original pre 1968 placements. The RCAF? Despite their RNAS (WWI) roots, they have basically followed the Army since unification.

So this post will kind of outline the movement of bling and other things on the jacket of an officer, Chief & PO, or a Rate since 1910.

Canadian Admirals who served in WWI
Director of the Naval Service (DNS)
Kingsmill DNS
Hose DNS/CNS
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As you can see the Admirals ribbons are high on the left shoulder, and their cap badge are a direct copy of the Royal Navy. For the longest time you could not tell the difference between the RN and RCN. This non-distinction created a movement within both the RCN and the bureaucracy to forge an independent identity. This move was of course bitterly fought against by many within the RCN (sound familiar anyone?)

Canadian Admirals who served in both WWI and WWII
Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS)
Nelles CNS, Jones CNS, Reid CNS, Grant CNS, Mainguy CNS

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Nelles on the left and Mainguy on the right both were younger officers in WWI. It appears that the handkerchief is on its way out. Cap badges remain the same and it appears the cover (white-black) changes as per the whims of the officer wearing it.

Canadian Admirals who served in WWII

DeWolf CNS
Rayner CNS
Dyer PNA (Principal Naval Advisor)
Hennessy PNA
Landymore MARCOM
O’Brien MARCOM (Unification – Ribbons move to above breast pocket)
Porter MARCOM
Timbrell MARCOM
Boyle MARCOM
Collier MARCOM

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Dewolf on the left, Rayner on the right. The biggest change was the Canada flashes on the shoulder. Old guard RCN officers fought this move, but Canada was maturing as a nation and the old guard was losing that fight.

End of Part I
Part 2

Part 3
 
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FSTO

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Landymore, O’Brien, Timbrell.

In RCN circles Rear-Admiral Landymore is famously remembered for his regard action against Paul Hellyer’s (MND) move to disband the RCN and unify all the elements into one joint force called the Canadian Armed Forces. He was forced out by the Minister and O’Brien was left to pick up the pieces. Rear-Admiral Robert Timbrell’s picture is the first one with the CAF uniform (officially his rank would be Lieutenant General but that heresy was quietly dropped after Hellyer was shuffled out). We now see massive changes to the uniform. Rifle Green jacket, medals move to the breast pocket and anchor collar tabs. The cap badge is now some GG symbol above crossed batons flanked by oak leaves (I cannot find a picture of a Mobile Commander to see if any was different for their cap)

Admirals Post WWII
Allan MARCOM
Fulton MARCOM

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Collier, Allen, Fulton, Wood

The significance of these series of pictures is that Collier is the last Admiral with WWII experience and is followed by officers who joined at the end or just after the end of the war. The amount of medals are reduced significantly. Vice Admiral Wood’s picture shows the return to the Distinctive Environmental Uniform in the mid 80’s. The Navy appears to really embrace its return to the past. The RCN operational cap badge, (oak leaves gone and replaced by maple leaves) ribbons moved back to the shoulder, but additional shoulder straps to signify the CAF. Sadly the jacket has only 6 buttons and not the traditional 8. A reflection of our relationship with our new BFF’s? (USN)

Admirals post DEU reintroduction – Medals back high on the left breast. Maritime Operations Cap Badge
Wood MARCOM
Thomas MARCOM
George MARCOM
Anderson MARCOM
Cairns MARCOM
Murray MARCOM
Mason MARCOM


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Thomas, George, Cairns

It appears that Admiral Wood pushed the unique RCN uniform envelope a little too far, as you can see with introduction of a CAF cap badge for FOGO’s (Flag Officers/General Officers). But the ribbons remain high, and there is still no executive curl. Cairns was a submariner so his qualification badge is on the lower sleeve. We now see that the name tag has been added to the jacket.

End of Part 2

Part 3
 
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FSTO

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Final part of my little post
Admirals – Medals and qualification badges move to just above the breast pocket
Garnett CMS
MacLean CMS
Robertson CMS
McFadden CMS

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Garnett, Maclean, Maddison

So by the late 90’s the CAF Machine has had enough of this mutinous behaviour by MARCOM and medals/ribbons and qual badges are back to the breast pocket. But the Navy has one more arrow in its quiver and in 2011 the RCN and Executive curl is back! A brother officer asked a certain Admiral in the mid 2000’s if the RCN or curl would ever come back. He was roundly chastised by the Admiral and told to “quit living in the past!!” In retrospect it seems that if the conservatives are in power they chip away at Hellyer/LPC unification legacy. When the the Liberals are in power whatever is the status quo at the time seems to be okay with them. You can also see that the Sea Service Indicator is now introduced. Things are starting to get a little crowded. One final thing, Admiral Garnett has a SSM/Canada 125/CD with 2 clasps. The amount of gongs do not reflect his extensive service to Canada.

Admirals – RCN is back! Executive Curl returned. Sea Service Insignia is introduced
Maddison
Norman
MacDonald – Cocktail nametag for everyday use
Baines – NWO qualification badge introduced
Topshee
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Norman, McDonald

With Admiral McDonald (appointed to CDS) we see the introduction of a larger name tag and a command badge. The Medal/Ribbon racks indicate the years of Post Cold war actions and the Global War on Terror. You can also see CDS commendations on the left pockets.

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Topshee

The current Commander of the RCN Vice Admiral Angus Topshee shows the current iteration of RCN service uniform in all its glory. Large name tag, SSI, qual badge above the medals, medals on the pocket line, 6 button jacket, NWO badge and CDS commendation and the FOGO cap badge. No picture yet with the new cap.

In retrospect, the RCN has been affected over the years by self inflicted wounds and by being on the coast and out of site and mind by the general Canadian public. This has made the uniform the poster child of trying to find an identity. Prior to unification, the RCN was a fully paid member of the Commonwealth family of Navies, but after the Unification of the CAF it has fought with various amounts of success to retain its identity from the much larger Canadian Army and RCAF. The current amount of accoutrements on our uniform is in my mind a little much (I’m a minimalist) but others like it. If I could change on thing it would be the cap badges. Hard sea cap badges for all who wear the Navy Black!

Please RCN Leadership, for the love of god! Do not fill up the uniform with bling so that it out-blings Don Cherry!

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The End

Funny, when I searched the DHH site for info on Army and RCAF leadership, there is the basic information and that's it. No portraits and extensive timelines like the RCN. Odd.
 
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FJAG

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Good show and quite informative.

I'm a fan of bling. Militaries are tribal and we need our versions of tattoos and knuckle bones in our hair and torques on our arms to show who we are and who we belong to. Even the RCAF which likes it's S3s to be relatively drab sports gaudy giant patched on the shoulders of their environmental clothing.

Warriors shouldn't let all the cubicle dwellers dictate an all equalizing bland greyness to their lives. As long as we don't go back to stocks on the necks and powdered wigs, we're golden.

The one thing that's worth envying in both the RCN and RCAF uniform is that it is much easier to switch back and forth between operational units without major changes in the uniform. Buttons and metal shoulder flashes and cap badges are relatively simple, but once we go to sewn on divisional patches and varying headdress and bits and pieces one needs to spend a small fortune on in the regimental kit shop, well ...

💂‍♂️
 

Humphrey Bogart

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@FSTO the RCN has the best looking uniform out of all four services.

The cut and material is also superior. Even the moustache badge doesn't look that bad.
 

FSTO

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@FSTO the RCN has the best looking uniform out of all four services.

The cut and material is also superior. Even the moustache badge doesn't look that bad.
Agree. The moustache is growing on me. I’d like the navy to do the right thing a go through the proper heraldic process to get the crown on it though.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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Agree. The moustache is growing on me. I’d like the navy to do the right thing a go through the proper heraldic process to get the crown on it though.
Having worn both the christmas green and the salt and pepper, I know which one I would choose.

I've got a soft spot for the salt and pepper though because the COVID deployment and what I felt my Ship and its Company accomplished means way more to me personally than anything else I did in the Armed Forces so maybe that colours my view somewhat.

I wish the Navy would go through the proper process for a lot of things but then it wouldn't be the Navy if it did things the right way 😄
 

rmc_wannabe

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Bling tells a story. It's a resume written in cloth and tin.

The fact my wife of 13 years, who has an eye for detail to envy most SNCOs, can read a person's accomplishments off what they're wearing is a great indicator of its importance.

The problem I have, at least with the Army DEU, is how piss poorly its made and how uncomfortable it is on parade; in all weather. It's too damn hot for No. 1 in the summer, and we have an aversion to wearing gabardines in the winter (probably because you look like you're selling counterfit watches).

The Navy seems to be getting back on track with their traditions and its reflected in their dress. There seems to be a lot of "operational" hang ups within the Army about improving our dress uniforms... with the false belief that it will take money out of the procurement of capabilities and put it into Buttons and Bows. I would hope we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Until then, we'll keep doing it poorly and looking like ass whenever we throw on the last Hellyer holdout uniform.
 

FSTO

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Bling tells a story. It's a resume written in cloth and tin.

The fact my wife of 13 years, who has an eye for detail to envy most SNCOs, can read a person's accomplishments off what they're wearing is a great indicator of its importance.

The problem I have, at least with the Army DEU, is how piss poorly its made and how uncomfortable it is on parade; in all weather. It's too damn hot for No. 1 in the summer, and we have an aversion to wearing gabardines in the winter (probably because you look like you're selling counterfit watches).

The Navy seems to be getting back on track with their traditions and its reflected in their dress. There seems to be a lot of "operational" hang ups within the Army about improving our dress uniforms... with the false belief that it will take money out of the procurement of capabilities and put it into Buttons and Bows. I would hope we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Until then, we'll keep doing it poorly and looking like ass whenever we throw on the last Hellyer holdout uniform.
I'm not against bling per say, I just don't want to look like Zhukov. :cool:

Thank god for High Collar Whites. The city of Regina and RUSI have been unveiling a series of pedestals at the cenotaph honouring various regiments, squadrons, and ships. The other day I was attending the unveiling of a pedestal for HMCS Regina I and the Royal Regina Rifles and it was 30C plus. I was the only naval officer in whites while the rest of navy was in black and the army in dark green. They melted and I was comfy. C'est la guerre.
 

FSTO

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I should also note that once the Executive Curl returned the FOGO shoulder boards disappeared from the Naval Jacket.
 

Halifax Tar

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I should also note that once the Executive Curl returned the FOGO shoulder boards disappeared from the Naval Jacket.

I would like to see some rank insignia modifications/changes for Navy NCMs. I would support opening up the Anchor cap badge up to all Naval DEU pers as well.
 

FJAG

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The problem I have, at least with the Army DEU, is how piss poorly its made and how uncomfortable it is on parade; in all weather. It's too damn hot for No. 1 in the summer, and we have an aversion to wearing gabardines in the winter (probably because you look like you're selling counterfit watches).
Don't want to go off the navy side of this but I agree. I liked the old 1960s era TWs and the return to the tan uniform was, IMHO, a positive step - light and comfortable and looked good (despite the black shoes and green hat) - not much better quality of material than the greens. I hated it when we let it go.

The army could certainly uses some phased in product improvement with the basic uniform.

🍻
 

daftandbarmy

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Don't want to go off the navy side of this but I agree. I liked the old 1960s era TWs and the return to the tan uniform was, IMHO, a positive step - light and comfortable and looked good (despite the black shoes and green hat) - not much better quality of material than the greens. I hated it when we let it go.

The army could certainly uses some phased in product improvement with the basic uniform.

🍻

I always appreciated the natural fibres used in British Army uniforms.

Like, you know, the leather and wool they used for these ;)

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FJAG

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I always appreciated the natural fibres used in British Army uniforms.

Like, you know, the leather and wool they used for these ;)

View attachment 72535
There's always been a little list in the back of my mind as to the items of kit I wish I still had to mark the hallmarks of my life. Puttees and the motorcycle chain that was used to hold down the blouse in my battledress trousers are two of those items.

On the other hand, I still have my white lanyard from when I was a bombardier, an FSOD Mobile Command armlet from the RCSA (the Shilo one) and a red and blue zigzag dickie we had to wear with our combats in the 1970s.

😉
 

dimsum

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Meanwhile, for reasons, RCAF GOFOs wear both Army-style epaulets and RCN-style rank rings on their tunics.

When RCAF changed to pearl-grey and GOFOs got rank rings on their sleeves, I wondered why they kept the epaulets. No one else in the RCAF has them.

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OldSolduer

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There's always been a little list in the back of my mind as to the items of kit I wish I still had to mark the hallmarks of my life. Puttees and the motorcycle chain that was used to hold down the blouse in my battledress trousers are two of those items.

On the other hand, I still have my white lanyard from when I was a bombardier, an FSOD Mobile Command armlet from the RCSA (the Shilo one) and a red and blue zigzag dickie we had to wear with our combats in the 1970s.

😉
Our “Dickie” was French Grey and later moved to the three colour Patricia one.

I did not like them. I still have them somewhere however
 

RangerRay

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Meanwhile, for reasons, RCAF GOFOs wear both Army-style epaulets and RCN-style rank rings on their tunics.

When RCAF changed to pearl-grey and GOFOs got rank rings on their sleeves, I wondered why they kept the epaulets. No one else in the RCAF has them.

View attachment 72541
I think some people might not know they are GOFO’s without the epaulets 🤦‍♂️
 

FJAG

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Our “Dickie” was French Grey and later moved to the three colour Patricia one.

I did not like them. I still have them somewhere however
I always wondered what possessed us to use those things. I know they were popular with inflicted upon American troops back in the sixties (and earlier) and we were playing copy cat - maybe as a reaction to being shoehorned into those boring green S3s.

Here's a Cavalry scarf from the post-war 40s and the one popularized by Duvall in Apocalypse Now.

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I hated them as much as having to give up my combat hat (which I still have) and having to wear a beret in the field. Another one of those brilliant satorical decisions the '70s Army was famous for.

And once again ... a thread successfully deflected.

😖
 
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