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Unit Shirts



Unit Shirts

While "unit t-shirts" would appear to be a recent innovation, there appears to be ample photographic evidence of the use of similar garments in the Second World War, probably mostly in "sweatshirt" (i.e. long sleeved) styles.  It appears that some such garments were apparently worn under the uniform, including in action.

Athletic clothing was also produced with unit names and badges printed on them.

At right is a sweatshirt bearing the insignia of the 2nd 10th Dragoons'  "B" Squadron.  According to Michael Reintjes, apparently rescued many years ago from the Armouries in Brantford, Ontario (now home to the 56th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery) - at the time home to the 2nd/10th and the DHRC.  Reintjes adds that it seems to be a canteen item but I've seen enough photographic evidence to suggest that these were worn by troops at times under the BD."

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Photo courtesy Michael Reintjes

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Photo courtesy Jocelyn Garnier

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Photo courtesy Alexander Borgia

A Canadian captured at Dieppe; this soldier wears a white t-shirt or sports shirt, with the Fusiliers Mont Royal cap badge on it. The photo above shows a Canadian soldier wearing a white sweatshirt which has been printed with the cap badge of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. Also of note is the uniform on the military cook beside him.

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Canadian Film and Photo Unit PL 31052 via Jocelyn Garnier

Above, an airman of 143 Wing at a forward airfield on the Continent in 1944; he wears a white sweatshirt with the badge of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters on it.  The Grey and Simcoes did not have an overseas battalion; one would presume this airman joined the RCAF after serving in Canada with Grey and Simcoe Foresters.

At right, a photo of Squadron Sergeant Major Gerry Menzies who came ashore with the Calgary Tank Regiment at Dieppe on 19 August 1942.   He is shown here shortly after his capture.  Of note is the undergarment he is wearing, printed with the cap badge of the Calgary Regiment.

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Bundesarchiv Photo

The following was submitted by Jordan Baker, Assistant Curator of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Museum.  The design on the shirt is that of the collar badge worn by the Regiment.  The Roman numeral "13" (XIII) is a reference to the regiment's original title, the 13th Battalion Volunteer Militia (Infantry) Canada (later renamed the 13th Regiment in 1900 and the 13th Royal Regiment in 1910).  The bugle horn is a traditional device used in the insignia of Light Infantry units.

I just got a photo today from the RHLI Museum showing a soldier wearing a Unit sweat shirt.  I thought it might be a useful addition to your Unit Shirts section.

His name is Bill Larin and the photo was taken in England in 1942.  It also appears that he is wearing his collarless shirt underneath the sweat shirt.  I asked Ed Newman, our Museum administrator (he served from 1935 to 45) if he remembers many unit members wearing these shirts.  He said it was very common within the unit as many liked to wear them.  I also asked him about the colours and he remembers them being a white shirt with the design being a green shade.  More then likely it was the same shade as the Unit colour.

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Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Museum

At right, a photo of Alvin Palfenier of the Calgary Highlanders, wearing a unit shirt early in the war.  CASF is the Canadian Active Service Force, the overseas element of the Canadian Army, so named from September 1939 until late 1940 when the force was renamed the Canadian Army (Overseas).  The cap badge of the unit has been rendered on this white shirt.

Alvin Palfenier was killed in Normandy while serving with the regiment on 13 August 1944.  His brother, Theodore, had enlisted in the Calgary Highlanders in September 1939, and transferred to the South Alberta Regiment.  he was killed on 12 September 1944, also as a sergeant, during the fighting to liberate The Netherlands.

Photo courtesy Otto Palfenier

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 Unit sweatshirt on display in Aldershot.

Jim Curley photo via Ed Storey


 This sweatshirt went up for auction on ebay in Feb 2013.
The 3rd Battalion, The Canadian Scottish Regiment was a wartime battalion.

ebay image


Shirt from the collection of the Canadian Scottish Regiment Museum.

image courtesy Jack Drysdale

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