One of my best Christmas gifts this year came from an old and dear friend. She ran across this collection of brass buttons that the owner no longer wanted. Knowing my fondness for military memorabilia, she had them strung into a bracelet for me!
I was thrilled to receive this throughtful gift, but I must admit that I've been a tiny bit reluctant to wear my bracelet in public, unsure of whether I might be violating some military code. Can someone tell me if I am allowed to wear my lovely bracelet with a clear conscience?
There are about thirty buttons on the bracelet, in varying stages of tarnishing. And here’s another question, dear readers: shall I polish them, or leave them with their vintage patina?
Not all the buttons are of military origin. This large one with the maple leaf in the centre is marked Canadian Pacific Railway Co.
I assume the anchor indicates that this came from the Royal Canadian Navy.
And this one is from the Royal Canadian Air Force, naturally.
I had a hard time deciphering this motto surrounding the maple leaf. It reads: "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense." That translates roughly as “Evil unto him who thinks evil of it” and is used as a motto by several Canadian Army regiments.
I’m extremely grateful to my friend for this interesting and unusual piece of jewelry. I plan to sit down with a magnifying glass and research each and every button – it’s on my list of 2015 New Year’s Resolutions!
Speaking of bracelets, it was one year ago that I posted two photos of this Royal Canadian Air Force identity bracelet. Apparently these bracelets were fairly common souvenirs, and didn't serve any official role.
This one was discovered by Emily Tucker of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, among the effects belonging to her uncle, Elijah (Lije) Scargall. He served in the RCAF, married late in life and had no children.
She would like to return the bracelet to its original owner. I was able to find out two pieces of information: The W on the bracelet means that the owner was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Women's Division. Her identity number was W30958.
And a friend of a friend who works for the federal government identified the initials as belonging to someone named Jean Muriel Jane Barnes. He was unable to provide any other information.
In spite of numerous inquiries, I haven’t been able to find her (if she is still living) or any of her descendants. To read my original blog post, click here: The Bracelet Mystery.
Here is the bracelet once again, front and back.
Readers, I welcome your comments on either my bracelet, or hers!
STAR WEEKLY AT WAR
The Star Weekly was a Canadian newsmagazine published by the Toronto Star. During the Second World War, a colour illustration with a wartime theme appeared on the cover each week. Here’s a tribute to the men who fought on the sea. To see my entire collection of Star Weekly covers, and I'm adding a new one almost every week, click: Star Weekly At War.
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I have a fascinating one-hour powerpoint presentation describing wartime women in uniform, and the little-known practice of aerial photographic interpretation. And I come dressed in my wartime vintage duds! To contact me about speaking at your organization, click: Contact.
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Book Clubs across Canada have discussed Bird's Eye View. I would love to visit your club, or answer your questions via email, telephone, or Skype. For a list of discussion questions, click: Book Club Questions.