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Camouflage Face Veil

Part 10

Image Collection 9

Gavin K. Watt

Although few items of camouflaged gear were issued to Canadian troops during the war, the face veil proved to be one of the most useful and popular. Made of reasonably soft, cotton netting irregularly coloured dark brown and dark green similar to bi-coloured Helmet Net, the veil measured 3 feet by 3½ feet. It was intended to be worn over the helmet to cover the face, respirator and gas cape, but to judge from hundreds of archival photographs, this procedure does not seem to have been followed in active operations.

According to the British scale of issue, every man in the infantry and field artillery was issued with a veil. In Canadian use, it is most frequently seen worn around the neck like a cravat or scarf, which may have prevented the harsh wool of the battledress blouse from abrading the skin. Although the neck was camouflaged in this position, the veil did nothing to hide the face and ears.

In active operations, snipers often wore the veil as a pirate-like bandana, but this method of use was not commonly followed by line infantry as they wore helmets.

There is some thought that the veil was manufactured in Canada and can be distinguished from the British version as having a darker shade of green.

Brian L. Davis, British Army Uniforms & Insignia of World War Two (London: Arms and Armour Press, 1983)

veil 130215.jpg

1. A 48th Highlander in Bush Shirt wears his face veil over his head and under his helmet to protect the back of his neck from the Sicilian sun, 1943.
(LAC, PA130215)

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2. CSM Charlie Martin, DCM, MM of the Queen’s Own Rifles wears his veil as a rakish bandana and carries his revolver stuck in his web belt as he consults a map with a RCE lieutenant and a fellow Rifleman, Bretteville, France, 1944.
(LAC, PA190898)

VEIL a130265-v6.jpg

3. A trooper of the Royal Canadian Service Corps wears his veil as a cravat in Bruges, Belgium, 1944 while talking to two young fellows of the Belgian resistance.
(LAC, PA130265)

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4. A Highland Light Infantryman wears his veil in the most common fashion as a scarf under his blouse and jerkin at Nijmegen, Holland, 05Feb45.
(LAC, PA177579)

VEIL a211727-v6.jpg

5. A Calgary Highlander sniper poses with the veil as a full head cover. Kapellen, Belgium 06 October 1944.
(LAC, PA211727)

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6. A QOR sniper in training in England employs face veils to cover his head and shoulders and his spotting scope. April 21, 1944.
(LAC, PA211818)

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