Parachute Wings worn over rank?

Possibly, but I won't claim to be certain; I do seem to recall that the wings worn on the chest signified an operational drop?
Found a fairly simple explanation. When it was decided that Canada should have an airborne capability Canadian troops in the UK went through Ringway and earned British wings and wore them on the sleeve. Running in parallel any potential Canadian paras still in Canada went to Ft Benning and received the chest worn Canadian style wings. By late 1942 Canada had it’s own parachute training school in Shilo and consolidated training there and only Canadian chest wings were worn from that point forward.
 
The picture appears on page 90 of the book "Go To It" The Illustrated History of The 6th Airborne Division. First published in 1990 by Peter Harclerode.

The caption reads:

Queen Elizebeth is seen here talking to Corporal 'Jungle' Jones of 22 Independent Parachute Company. Before enlisting, Corporal Jones was a physical training instructor in the Metroplolitan Police.

The Police was a reserved occupation until 1942 when younger members of the Force could volunteer to join the military. Many joined the Commandos, Airborne Forces and became Aircrew in Bomber Command.

John Durnford-Slater , the CO of 3 Army Commando related in his history of 3 Commando that in 1942 after the losses the Commando he had received he contacted the Commando Training Depot in Scotland. They had just finished training 600 volunteers from the Police.

He said "This intake of police was perfect Commando materiel. The men were big, strong and intelligentand had all their police discipline and training behind them. They were real volunteers, keen for the contest. I had 120 of them posted to 3 Commando. This was the best single intake we ever received and every man was a potential leader; many of course were later commissioned and others exerted a fine influence as senior NCO's."


Yes, having done dome more digging - while there are several online sources which say it's Canadian 1st Airborne Battalion, but looking more closely at the photo, there's no 'Canada' shoulder flash on the chap. Canadian troops were definitely at the event - there's a Canadian Army Newsreel (No.53) which covers the visit.

I suspect that while Canadians were indeed there (not in question), the presence of others - there are officers from other Airborne units in other photos - was overlooked by someone who has assumed that it was only the Canadians HMK, HMQ and Princess Elizabeth visited; it was, in fact an exercise at Netheravon involving far more than the Canadians; the IWM photos of the event note on the back of them something to the effect that 'the Canadians and the RAF also took pictures' and the War Office photographer wasn't claiming them as exclusive coverage of the event. What's then happened is, in the finest traditions of online plagiarism, the other sources have just copied the photo and the caption...

The clincher for me, though is that further digging reveals that we discussed this on Arrse in 2014....


@Alan Partridge's question appears to be answered in post #10 by @_Chimurenga_
 
Last edited:
Didn’t the Canadians wear a different style of wings on their chest rather than arm?
Yes,

Canadian_Army_Photographers_1st_Canadian_Parachutes_Battalion.jpg
James_Hill_A179678-v6.jpg
img_09.jpg5592ef9914df0.jpg
 
I don't think - pardon the unintended pun - that the habit was uniform, and I suspect that you're probably spot on with the idea that it's a old smock, or perhaps one kept for special occasions - if it's from the series of photos I think it is, then the King appears in a number of them, so best bib and tucker all round if the RSM had anything to do with it...
Looking through an old Osprey book The Paras British Airborne Forces 1940-1984. One of the first colour plates in the book shows; Cpl. The Parachute Regiment 1943. The plate shows a Corporal with the parachute wings in the middle of his stripes. The text for the plates reads:

At this date both wings and rank chevrons were, by regulation, to be worn mid-way between elbow and shoulder, and this presentation was therefore common; the wings were later raised to a point two fingers' width below the shoulder seam.

However this photo of C Coy 2nd Parachute battalion the morning of their successful conclusion of the Bruneval raid in February 1942 shows the Corporal on the far left wearing a bone sack with his wings sown on above his Cpl's tapes.

bruneval-iwm.jpg
 
I suspect that while Canadians were indeed there (not in question), the presence of others - there are officers from other Airborne units in other photos - was overlooked by someone who has assumed that it was only the Canadians HMK, HMQ and Princess Elizabeth visited; it was, in fact an exercise at Netheravon involving far more than the Canadians;
1st Canadian Parachute battalion was part of 3rd Parachute Brigade, 6th Airborne Division from August 1943 together with the 8th and 9th Parachute battalions of the Parachute Regiment. The 6th Airborne took part in some large Divisional level Airborne Exercises in May 1944 as last minute rehearsals for the D-Day drop. It appears that the Royals popped in for a morale boosting visit at the start of one of the Abex's.
 
Top