The Canadian Provost Corps
1939 - 1946
A wide variety of kit and equipment was issued to all Canadian soldiers. The basic necessaries for cleaning weapons, boots and clothing, eating and drinking were all supplied by the Army. To these issue items, soldiers added other personal kit as they saw fit. These included smoking accessories and items useful while on leave, such as condoms and local money. Below are very basic examples of some of the issue and non-issue kit carried by Canadian soldiers.
The holdall contained personal items such as button sticks, boot and clothes brushes, razor and shaving equipment, toothbrush, and fork and spoon.
Late Pattern Housewife
The soldiers sewing kit was known as a "housewife". It contained needles, thread, wool, a thimble, extra buttons and a piece of wax for waxing the thread. Extra cloth insignia was also usually carried in the housewife. The housewife was commonly rolled up in the holdall.
Straight Razor and strop
The Gilette Khaki Set
A variety of metal and bakelite safety razors were carried as well as spare blades and sometimes a strop. Straight razors were still in common use as well. An issue "Khaki Set" containing a razor and blade case was made by the Gilette Company.
Messtins, fork, spoon and ration bag
Two rectangular mess tins were issued, made of tinned steel, these had to be kept immaculately cleaned and were regularly scoured and boiled to prevent food poisoning. Mess tins were often carried in a ration bag or in a waterbottle carrier attached to the web waistbelt.
Cigarettes and lighters
Cigarettes, matches and pipe tobacco were all issue items. There were dozens of brands availible, but Canadian and American brands were highly prized. Issue V Brand and Woodbine cigarettes were generally despised. Lighters were generally private purchase or gifts from organisations such as the Red Cross (lighter on the left).
This might be essential after returning from leave. Venerial disease was considered a preventable injury by the military and was often severely punished.
Issue clasp knife
The issue clasp knife was another essential tool. Several variants of this knife were issued, but all had a folding knife blade, a short heavy blade usefull for puncturing tins, and a fid or awl based on the navy marlinspike. The clasp knife was often secured on a lanyard or by a looped hook.
Issue eyeglasses were intended to be worn under the gas mask. The frames were very thin and flexible. Issue cases were black or khaki coloured.
3 Identity Discs were issued, two were worn around the neck and one was attached to the gas mask or gas mask case. The discs were stamped with the soldier's name, number and religion, and in the case of Officers, his rank. The I.D. Disk string was a convenient place to carry your churchkey!
When On Leave
Above are a few examples of paperwork and documents essential to a soldier on leave overseas. Left to right, top to bottom: map and leave guide to Amsterdam, leave travel warrant, dance card, Christmas party ticket, Salvation Army Red Shield Club meal card, military script and local money.
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