The cap badge of the Royal Canadian Artillery was based on that of the British Royal Artillery, but was of distinctive Canadian design. Unlike the RA, very few RCA units adopted the collar badge as a cap badge for the Field Service Cap and Beret, and the full gun badge was worn on all headdress.
There were two basic patterns of RCA badge issued to other Ranks as shown below:
These two patterns were subject to many variations between manufacturers, including such features as convex wheels, varying scroll lettering and variations in materials and finish, but all badges were made with fixing lugs (not sliders). After issue, many Canadian gunners seem to have made personal modifications and alterations to their badges, both for decorative and practical purposes. Although other Canadian regiments and corps certainly made similar modifications, the Royal Canadian Artillery seem to have had a penchant for this. Here are a few examples from my collection.
When I bought the first of these two badges I assumed this was a personal modification, but since then I have found another, bearing a number from the same unit. In both cases, the lugs on the back have been removed and replaced with a soldered-on slider, stamped with the owner’s army number (F16199 and F16374). Both these numbers are from the 1st (Halifax) Coast Regiment, part of Atlantic Command’s defences at Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was, of course, an extremely important port, being the origin of many of the Atlantic convoys. There is no doubt, examining the stampings, that both were done with the same stamp set, and I suspect this alteration was done on a unit level.
The most common alteration done to RCA cap badges was the removal of fine detail. The point of this was certainly an 'old soldier’s' trick to make polishing easier, and to achieve a more mirror-like finish. In all of these examples, the flat surfaces are definitely due to being deliberately ground, not just polished. I have three of these:
The first is ground flat on all raised detail; crown, top scroll, wheel and lower scroll.
The second has just the top and lower scrolls ground.
The third has just the lower scroll ground flat.
This next example belonged to C14356 Gunner Harvey MacLeod (pictured), who was originally with 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, but who seems to have later transferred to a First Canadian Army artillery unit.
It has a red backing cut from a 1st Canadian Division patch, and a celluloid former to make the beret sit nicely behind it.
The technique used to flatten down this badge was even more extreme. It appears the badge has been placed face down and hammered flat, then the face polished. The end result is that the badge is pretty much a sheet brass shape. It would, however, polish up to a mirror shine in about 30 seconds flat, and I am sure that was the intention.
This one is certainly a personal statement, if not a work of art. Fairly obviously, it belonged to B58490 Gunner M W Collins. In addition to the badge detailing being ground flat, and brought to a perfectly smooth finish, he has also engraved his army number on the UBIQUE scroll, and replaced QUO FAS ET GLORIA DUCUNT with his name and rank. His number, B58490 is actually a Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps number, but transfers of ordnance men to the RCA wasn’t that uncommon.
In this example, the wheel of the cannon has been replaced with a Canadian 1 Cent coin (a penny). It’s hard to see as it’s so polished, but its a 1941 penny. I have seen several examples of RCA badges with mounted pennies, but I don’t know if it had any meaning or was just a ‘thing to do‘, or whether the date of the penny was important.
This badge belonged to a man named T H Johnston. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more info on him, although I do have two other possessions of his:
an ID bracelet and a cigarette case (French-made I think), presumably designed to be kept in the ’breast’ pocket?
This is a similar modification to the ‘Penny Wheel’, but in this case the coin is Dutch, and displays the image of Queen Wilhelmina. I previously posted this on another forum, and a member there had a period photo of an RCA man wearing what appears to be the same badge modification:
The Canadian Army were instrumental in liberating the Netherlands, and to this day both countries commemorate this fact. I suspect the addition of a Dutch coin was done in the same spirit.