Image Collection 14
Gavin K. Watt
After some disastrous experiences early in the Great War where Canadian-made Service boots were made of atrocious quality and disintegrated in use, great care was taken to provide Second War servicemen with top quality footwear. Several styles of boots were worn by the Canadian Army. Most prominent was the Canadian-designed version of the Ammunition boot, an ankle-high, all leather boot with an internally-reinforced steel heel that was externally shod with screwed-on steel horseshoes on the heel and a steel crescent screwed onto the toe and had hobnails hammered into the soles. These external additions greatly extended the serviceability of the footwear; however, there were distinct disadvantages to steel shodding. While very useful on dirt and turf surfaces, it was noisy and treacherous on hard surfaces. (Motor regiment troops, who went into combat in steel-floored vehicles, were issued with the same pattern of boot with a rubber sole) The Canadian boot lacked the toe cap of its British equivalent.
A second common pattern entered service in 1942. Although widely worn by all Canadian troops, the 3CID was entirely issued with this pattern for D-Day and the pattern became known as the “Invasion boot.” This pattern was also 100% leather with steel reinforcements.
1. West Nova Scotia Regiment, 1CID riflemen show different patterns of hobnailing on standard, ankle-high, Ammunition boots. On the left, the ‘austerity’ pattern with nails in two lateral lines immediately behind the toe plate. Beside him, a variation with two longitudinal lines of hobs down the sole’s outside edge and a third line in the middle. Two men wear Puttees and one wears no ankle covering. Potenza, Italy, 18Sep43.
2. Three D. Coy riflemen, Regina Rifles, 3CID wearing British-made, calf-high “Invasion boots” with their trousers bloused over top. Cardonville, Normandy, 08Jun44.
3. A Stretcher Bearer of 9CIB has ‘boxed’ his trouser’s leg bottoms by buttoning the cuff-tabs and bloused them over his Invasion boots. In contrast, the man lying to his right seems to be wearing Ammunition boots with Ptn 37 Anklets. Normandy, 08Jun44.
4. A team from Canada’s Film and Photo Unit. The soldier with the camera is wearing Invasion Boots with his trousers bloused. The boot’s top flap closure can be plainly seen. To his left, the officer appears to be wearing German ‘jackboots’ or private-purchase, British ‘Quarter Wellington’ style boots. Standing beside the jeep is a sergeant with his trouser bottoms rolled and hanging over his boots, as does the Dispatch Rider behind him. Caen, France, 09Jul44.
5. A Highland Light Infantry section, 3CID rests along a tree-line. One soldier’s Invasion boots are fully-hobbed in the Great War fashion. Caen, France, 18Jul44.
6. This sergeant poses with a slung German 98k rifle. He has used the trouser cuff-tab to ‘box’ his trousers above his Ammunition boots. 14Jun44, Bayeux, France, 14Jun44.
7. Two infanteers of a Bren team display different hobnail patterns on their Ammunition boot soles. The man with the guitar has several lateral lines of what appear to be flat-headed, British-made nails. The man to his left has the ‘austerity’ pattern of two lateral lines of rose-headed nails immediately behind the toe plate. Caen, France, 10Jul44.
8. The natty Brigadier Cunningham of 9CIB, 3CID crosses a Canadian-built bridge over the Orne River wearing tan-coloured, officers’ Puttees over his boot tops. Caen, France, 18Jul44.
9. North Nova Scotia Highlanders, 3CID in a variety of shirts, and one with a woollen vest, and another with issue canvas shoes resting at Vaucelles, France, 20Jul44.
10. Very late in the war, a No.1 Bren of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, 2CID has his Ammunition boots hobbed in the Great War fashion. Oranje Canal, Holland, 12Apr45.
11. Even later in the war, a soldier of Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal, 2CID talks to his corporal and shows a heavily hobbed boot sole in what seems to be a random pattern. Munderloh, Germany, 29Apr45.
12. Cobblers of 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, 6BAD repair boots in Brelingen, Germany, 14Apr45.
14. First Division Highlanders man a Bren position at Apeldoorn, Holland. One fellow shows his Puttees, which veterans of Italy wore preferentially in North West Europe, despite orders to use Anklets. 17Apr45.
15. Brig Ian S. Johnson (11CIB) and LCol Maurice W. Andrew of the Perth Regiment wearing the very popular, all-leather, calf-high, steel-shod, British-made, brown leather boots worn by many Canadian officers as the war drew to a close. They are seen at a church service in Wagenborn, Holland, 11May45.
16 The war is over and look at those spit-shone boots! Brigadier Smith inspects men of the RCEME 10CIB Workshop, Rijssen, Netherlands, 30May45.