what does his WW1 uniform indicate?

+9 votes
Hi everyone -

Just wondering if anyone knows what my grandfather's WWI uniform indicates.  There are some photos of him in uniform on his profile [[Smith-123457|Philip Smith]].  He was born in England but he was in Canada when the war broke out, and he enlisted in Canada.  Then he was stationed in Devon for a while.  He was a veterinarian, and apparently they still used horses.  I never heard that he was on the front lines, but I don't really know, and with a name like Smith, i'm not sure i have him in the military records.  Knowing whether he was actually in the Canadian Army or the British Army would probably help; also if there was anything that his uniform indicated about what he was doing in the Army.  


WikiTree profile: Philip Smith
in Genealogy Help by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
edited by Shirlea Smith
Could you change the privacy settings so we can see the images please. Philip Smith profile really should be an open profile, what do you think?

If you don't wish to change the profile settings could you put the photo here with the question, then we could see the uniform.
Thanks!  I didn't realize his privacy level had defaulted to such a private level!  It is open now.

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
OK - based on what you said in his profile, he's like to be Canadian Army, and World War I - I'll start with that and see what emerges...


So looking at these two photos, yours and the one on the other web page, they look very similar. Belt clasp the same. uniform and collar the same, rank the same - seems likely this is correct.

So the arm stripes - typically the top stripes are rank (I think I see 3 stripes and no rocker - I believe this is Sergeant) and the bottom one (I think I see 4 stripes - called Service Chevrons) relates to time involved in combat. 4 would indicate 4 years, I think. The badge on his shoulders indicates something - in the US Army it's generally the unit you were with. Not sure how the Canadians did this. Their might mean rank. The one on his collar usually indicates in the US Army what branch of the military he was with. The image is just a bit too blurry to decipher.


If you can interpret the badge, you might find it in this link.

Amusing... so lower on the page, it says the Canadians adopted the British style of uniform a bit later, but his is clearly Canadian (note the turned up collar).

At least these are my best guesses. Sergeant - 4 years in combat (awarded at the beginning of the year in combat, I think, so between 3-4 years is how that works). And the rest is still a bit of guessword.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G6 Pilot (917k points)
selected by Shirlea Smith
Hah - saw where you said he worked with animals. From this we might interpret that he either wore on his collar the "Hammer and Pincer" (worn by fitters and smiths) or the Bit (worn by saddlers and collar makers). I'm leaning towards the first, as it almost appears that there is a crossed set of symbols, but it really could be either.
On the shoulder straps, I'm leaning away from this as rank. For Officers, it clearly was rank based on what I've been able to look up. He was an NCO, which isn't generally treated the same. Plus this looks to be a 2-part badge of some sorts maybe a symbol with a curved thing like a laurel wreath or something like that which probably has something enscribed on it below the badge. If the photo was a bit clearer, we might get enough detail out of it to guess what the image is.

If you have an original copy of the photo, you might take a bunch of views with it blown up a bit and under different filters, different contrast/brightness, etc. Just sorry I can't come up with much more than this.
Thanks so much!  I am starting to think Phil was in the Canadian Army Veterinary Corp.  There are some photos of their badges on this website:


I don't have the original pic but my cousin does and might even have the badge...Thanks for all the info!
+9 votes

You can find your answer hear.  http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/list.aspx?SurnameSearch=Smith&GivenNameSearch=Philip&

The service records have a great deal of detail. There are about 20 Phillip Smiths but you should be able to land on the correct one without too much difficulty.

George Churchill

by George Churchill G2G6 Mach 8 (86k points)
Thanks, George, but he isn't any of those.  Maybe he managed to be in the British Army instead of the CEF.  Wish I had known the questions to ask when i had the chance!  He passed away when i was 17.
+3 votes
While looking for his Veterinary certificate (I know i have it somewhere), I happened to re-read his obit in the local paper.  It said he enlisted in Calgary in 1915 with the 56th Battalion Canadian Infantry and later transferred to the Veterinary Corp.  The chevrons for the 4 years of service might make it likely that he was in the Veterinary Corp when those photos were taken, no?
by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (127k points)

Thank you , all, for the interesting comments, and sources - will be a good Profile to visit in a few weeks time, with the new history of the times he lived - - -

Also a Link to = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Horse_(film) = which gives a view as to how the horses were used, [and not return] - in both Europe and the Middle East. = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_of_Arabia_(film) =  - - The horses were used in muddy bogs in France , and the sandy conditions of the M/East [no roads] = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Light_Horse = [see also - Care of horses in the Sinai campaign - ] - -

Thanks - cheers - - ja


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