War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele


when I got home from Wainwright and Shilo, there was a little package waiting for me, a gift from a good friend, Lyndy, who grows acres of lavender… I can always tell when I receive something from her because it always smells so good… this time not of lavender but of roses…

I opened the package and pulled out a curious looking pale pink woolen scarf, fat in the middle with pointy ends, and with a little slot in each skinny section before the ends in which one can thread one or other end and make it into a circular neck warmer… according to Lyndy, the scarf is a WWI pattern designed for the trenches of Europe… I immediately put it on and sighed at how soft and warm and practical it is and wished I had had it when I was in Shilo and Wainwright…

it looks sort of like a fat bow tie shape like below and measures about 68 cms:


(I’ll take a snap of it and post it at a later date)

“last summer,” Lyndy wrote, “my mother-in-law in England, visited a number of historic sites and museums in England/France/Belgium and promptly came home and knitted up some of these [neck warmers] for us all. I offer this one for your chilly nights in the desert with blessings of a peace/piece in your heart from Canada…”

I’m not sure if our soldiers would wear a hand knit neck scarf or not, they seem to have a lot of high-tech kit, still, it’s possible they might enjoy a piece of home like the one Lyndy gave me (only not pink of course!)… an interesting aside, it was my father who taught my mother to knit… he learned to knit in the Canadian Forces…

good kit makes or breaks a person, and certainly can make or break a soldier… last year, walking 850 kms across Spain, I saw so many people suffer because of bad gear. I saw gangrene toes, feet that were blistered and swollen and bleeding, knees blown out, bad backs, ankles, hips… I remember meeting a young German kid who was limping so badly, suffering with each step who ended up being hospitalized and having to give up his dream of making the great walk… all because of lousy equipment and not stopping when the hurting began…

recently, I was reading an essay by a Warrant Officer who believed it is his job to make sure his men take care of their feet at every stop… he actually made them take off their socks and inspected their feet for blistering, chaffing etc… and made sure they had clean socks (the number one rule for blisterless feet I found last year… so much so that it became my obsession… and washed socks the minute I stopped for the day, even before getting food)

something I learned quickly on ex with 1PPCLI and the Royal 22e Regiment, was the need for lightweight, warm gear that could easily be adjusted… in fact, infantrymen seem always to be adjusting their kit… a helmet strap, a balaclava, gloves… and when they couldn’t, like when they are squeezed into the belly of the LAV and the heater is blasting and they’re in the fourth hour of doing just that, they simply do what infantrymen have always done – whether in the WWI trenches, or marching up the spine of Italy, or sleeping in the rain of Bosnia or sweating in a 2008 FOB out in the Afghan desert… they just suck it up

2 Comments (Closed)


As I recall time in the back of the track meant sleep (if you weren’t on air sentry). Bundled up, helmets on, rifles between your knees; five men asleep, all sitting upright. But when the vehicle stopped and the ramp went down, everyone was up and out, like it was the 200 metres at the Olympics. Everyone but the section commander who had to climb down from the cupola and pull his webbing on. If he was checked out, his No. 1 rifleman would have his rifle waiting for him.

Nov 21 2008 · 12:02


ah yes, that amazing infantry skill of sleeping upright, crammed into the belly of the LAV, rifles, flak vests, shoulder-to-shoulder, boot-to-boot, bumping along the road or field then stop, ramp down, run like hell…

Nov 21 2008 · 15:19

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled kit. It was posted here on November 17, 2008.


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