The Oak Leaf Shoulder Badge
The Calgary Highlanders wear a special form
of shoulder title granted by Order in Council, representative of the Battle of Kitcheners'
Wood, in which the Tenth Battalion fought during the Second Battle of Ypres in April
1915. The detailed history of this badge is given below.
Correct Method of
A correct set of oak leaves is
issued in pairs, a left and a right. The stem and acorn of the oak leaf is always
worn pointing to the wearer's front.
Orders of Dress
In CF Dress when wearing the
Distinctive Environment Uniform (DEU) Jacket, the metal oak leaf is worn in the same
manner as any metal title. When in shirt sleeve order with the CF Linden Green
shirt, (in which metal titles are normally prohibited), the Oak Leaf is also worn on the
standard CF Green slip on (blank for Non-Commissioned Members, or with rank braid as for
Officer Cadets and Officers). The slip ons and oak leaves may also be worn on the CF
The metal oakleaf titles are not
worn on any other forms of dress, including the CF Overcoat, CF Raincoat, and any form of
Care and Maintenance
There are two main styles of Oak
Leaf badges; older styles will have a pair of large loops on the back to accept a cotter
pin. Care should be taking when punching holes into the uniform jacket epaulette to
accept these badges. Rather than cutting or tearing holes, it is recommended that an
awl or punch be used to gently separate the material of the shoulder strap so that the
jacket isn't irreparably damaged. After all, each soldier is responsible for
returning any items of kit he has signed for in good condition.
Newer styles of Oak Leaf badges
have push pin backings; these are provided with the standard clutch backings (also known
popularly as "dammits").
When attaching Oak Leaves to the
CF green "slip ons", any embroidery pre-existing on the title must be picked out
with a knife or seam ripper so that only the Oak Leaf is visible.
Newer versions of the Oak Leaf shoulder
badge are anodized, meaning the lucky soldier does not have to worry about them staying
shiny. Soldiers with older sets of brass badges are reminded about the product shown
at right - you will be expected to have the badges highly shone every time you wear
them. Any standard metal polish will serve to keep the badges presentable.
When Battle Honours for the
First World War were being considered in the 1920s, the units that perpetuated the 10th
and 16th Battalions of the CEF were perturbed that they did not receive recognition for
the Battle of Kitcheners Wood. That battle had marked the first offensive action
taken by Canadian soldiers in the First World War, and was later described by Marshall
Foch as "the finest act in the War." The commanding officers of the three
battalions (The Canadian Scottish Regiment, The Calgary Highlanders, and The Winnipeg
Light Infantry) petitioned Ottawa, and gained the support of many prominent individuals
such as Sir Arhur Currie. The Adjutant General proposed that a distinction in dress
be awarded in lieu of a battle honour.
In June 1926, it was suggested
that one or more oak leaves on a blood red background be adopted as a collar badge, as
Kitcheners Wood had been an oak plantation. The Calgary Highlanders preferred a
badge be worn on the lower sleeve while the WLI preferred an upper sleeve badge. All
three agreed that an acorn and oak leaf design was desirable. The Adjutant General
agreed that a collar badge depicting a single acorn and oak leaf was acceptable, and could
be worn in conjunction with existing collar badges, as precedence for double collar badges
had been set in the British Army by the Seaforth Highlanders and the Royal Irish
In 1930, the Adjutant
General's office proposed that the collar badges of the individual units be set upon a
bronze oak leaf. This idea was rejected, and in 1933 a metal shoulder badge was
agreed upon. The Calgary Highlanders and Canadian Scottish wanted the full name of
the regiment to be part of the design, while the WLI wanted only their initials.
General Orders in 1934 granted authority for the Calgary
Highlanders and Canadian Scottish to wear bronze oak leaf and acorn badges with their
names inscribed on an annulus. The WLI were to wear a badge consisting of the oak
leaf and acorn with the initials on the regiment superimposed.
Barry Agnew, former Calgary
Highlander officer, curator of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, and Calgary Highlanders
Museum Curator, uncovered the drawings below in the National Archives in Ottawa.
They show suggested designs for the Calgary Highlanders' oak leaf badges; none of the
badges were ever worn.
Photo reproduced from
The Oakleaf, Regimental Newsletter of the Calgary Highlanders, Dec 1991 issue.
|When the badges were presented
in 1938, the Calgary Highlanders' design had again changed to one resembling the WLI,
being a brass oakleaf with the letters CH superimposed. It is not clear why the
change was made.
metal shoulder titles were to be worn on Service Dress and Full Dress. With the
advent of Battle Dress in 1939, the regiments took to wearing the new badges with the new
uniform. The practice was short lived. The Canadian Scottish only permitted
the First Battalion to wear the badge. For Battle Dress, a cloth shoulder title
incorporating the oak leaf into the design was instituted. Officers in the Second
World War continued to wear Service Dress, and officers of the three regiments continued
to wear the oak leaf when in that uniform. When midway through the war it was
decided that unit shoulder titles were a drain on resources, and ordered all officers to
wear the plain CANADA title in brass, the CO of the First Battalion, Canadian Scottish
Regiment, refused. He was told that he would be sent to Canada if he persisted, but
he advised his officers to retain the prized oak leaf badges, and the matter was quietly
Oak leaves were again worn on
Battle Dress after the Second World War. With unification of the Armed Forces, the
oak leaf badge was in danger of being dispensed with. The WLI had been amalgamated
with another regiment in 1955, leaving only the Canadian Scottish and Calgary Highlanders
as bearers of this emblem. Neither unit adopted the oak leaf for the new combat
dress. The new CF uniform lacked shoulder straps, and so the metal oak leaf was no
longer worn when in full dress. Both units did adopt cloth substitutes, however.
The Canadian Scottish adopted a badge in the shape of the Presidential Unit
Citation worn by 2 PPCLI.
The Calgary Highlanders adopted
a large arc shaped title with the name of the regiment, the oak leaf, and the numeral
"10" superimposed. This badge was designed by Lieutenant JH Brink, and
was approved for wear in 1981. Metal oak leaves continued to be worn on work dress.
Highlanders received permission to wear these badges in 1981; like the metal oakleaves,
they were worn with the acorns facing the wearer's front.
With the introduction of the DEU
in the late 1980s, the epaulettes of the new uniform meant a return to the metal oak
leaves when in parade dress.