Pillbox Being Replaced – New Headgear Available for Grad

From Pillbox to this…

Pillboxes off to Parks Canada

By: WJO

E-Veritas has become aware that both Royal Military College of Canada and Royal Military College St Jean will hand-over their entire supply of pillboxes currently in use by both Cadet Wings to Parks Canada. The immediate result will be no pill boxes on any ceremonial parade, including graduation, for the foreseeable future.

Parks Canada will distribute over 1500 pillboxes to a number of communities across the country in conjunction with celebrations associated with the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. The commencement date for these celebrations is scheduled for the long weekend in May – just over six weeks away.

The pillbox has been pretty well a staple part of the cadet uniform since RMC opened in 1876. There was a brief period during World War 1 when a flat hat was introduced. This hat was blue with a red band and very similar to those worn in the U.S. civil war. However, it was not long before the new hat was discarded and the pillbox reissued.

Our sources in Ottawa have indicated that this same type of flat hat, gray (not blue) with a red band will be used by cadets for the 2012 graduation parade and likely for the next few years. The first shipment is due to arrive at both locations within 14 days.

The majority of the Ex cadets we have contacted are not very impressed with this decision. Some of the initial reaction:

“The pillbox represents the traditions of the colleges and everything they stand for.”

“Take away the pillbox and you remove the most vital part of the cadet uniform.”

“Personally, I feel that the pillbox is the only headdress suitable for cadets in scarlets.”

Not all the Ex cadet feedback has been negative:

“I believe that the pillbox, although suitable in bygone days, has no place whatsoever in the makeup of the college uniform.”

The Chain of Command from both colleges were unavailable for comment at press time.

We would appreciate hearing your reaction:

Is supplying Parks Canada with all available pillboxes from both college a good decision? If yes, why? If no, why not? (Leave us a reply.)

 April Fool’s Day

Thanks everyone for being such good sports. e-Veritas readers are the greatest!

Following is a small sample of some of the e-mails we received.We omitted the names of the sender to save some red faces.

Bill & Rolande

I know better than to fall for your April fools day jokes after 5 years!!!!!!!

OMG THIS IS RIDICULOUS WHAT IMBECILE THOUGHT THIS UP.

DARN!!!!! This is a April Fool’s joke, isn’t it?????

Nice one Bill. Had me for a second then I saw the date. See you in a few hours.

I’m so gullible. April foollllssss

Omg. You had me there for a moment. Furious, then laughing out loud.

Happy April 1st to you too!

Great April Fools Joke!

April Fools! You definitely had me raging for a moment before I realized the date.

I liked the one last year (a few years ago?) when they wrote the article about the parade square being turned into a parking lot.

Man those responses were great.

You always stir it up a bit on April Fool’s Day. Looks like you caught a bunch of people again! Well done, my friend.

April fools sir?

Haha nice one Bill…you certainly had me at 2 in the morning last night…

Touche good sir, touché

Good joke Bill !!!! It rates way up there with other April Fool’s jokes, the most recent local one being the renamming of Barrack St to Barack in 2010. Nice to see the grey weather has not dampened your sense of humour.

Looks like you got a lot of people wound up who forgot to look on the calendar for the date today…

Good one Bill!

I am totally opposed to the change from the traditional RMC Pillbox to the US Confederate Army style cap. Who ever came up with this nightmare? I’m sure it wasn’t an Ex-Cadet.

What an excellent April Fools spoof. It took a minute as I read your write-up to digest the details and then I remembered the date. Well done.

Thanks for the morning smile. Keep up the great work.

Great April Fools Joke!

Good one, Bill! April fools! All the best,

This is a terrible decision. The Grey Hat does not match the Scarlet Uniform and looks more American than Canadian. Did someone get a bargain on e-Bay?

Bill you didn’t get me this year. Good try.

A few points if I may.

First of all, the new style cap is known as a kepi and has its origin with the French and not the US Army. The US Army of the mid-nineteenth century was patterened after the French and had adopted many forms of their dress.

Secondly, what will Parks be doing with the Pill Boxes? This was certainly not a form of headdress in the British Army or the Canadian miliita during the War of 1812. They did have one style of fatigue cap that was vaguely similar but I cannot fathom what the RMC Pill Box has to do with that conflict. (part one)

Okay, you got me! Once I stop laughing I am going to plot your downfall! (part two)

Good one Bill. Very sneaky. But you didn’t get me this year!

The old folks have short memories from previous years. How many did you get last year?

Anyway, Happy Sunday!

You had me for about an hour. “D” too. We just stopped laughing.

My “hat” is off to you.

Brilliant ! Just brilliant … and look at the date! But … but … it’s too bad the story is …. ahem … somewhat doubtful … because it would be wonderful to get rid of those damn pillboxes!

April Fool to you!

is it april already? thanks for the chuckle.

Pretty good one this year Bill. I bet some people fell for it!

Good one, Bill. Happy Air Force Day.

Ha! Ha!

Great April Fools joke Bill and Rolande. Keep smiling, it matters for sure

There is a huge US Military influence in Canada – and at RMC. This would not surprise me if it were true!!!

Did the US army not send out the same message last April 1???

And a happy April Fools day to you as well, Bill

Ah yes! April 1 rolls around again! Thank you for this. The first April 1st email quip of the day!

Congratulations.

76 Comments

  • Andy Ellwood

    April 1, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I certainly hope that this is an April Fool special, because if it is true, it is one of the worse decisions ever made about the RMC uniform. Tradition is a major part of RMC life and to substitute a basic part of the uniform for a “Confederate” cap is beyond belief.

    I had my share of laughter about the Pillbox, including from my childhood sweatheart of the time, but was always pleased to wear it with dignity. I still have my pillbox and have only one concern, what happens to it (and to my Scarlets) when I pass on.

  • 7045 Rob Porter

    April 1, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Get a job! This propsed change in headress is not a great move! RMC cadets will resemble US civil war combatants.

  • Bill Shead

    April 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Bill

    BZ! Clever of you to prepare the ground for a successful ‘coup’ with your earlier email about the ‘impending’ announcement on possible change to headdress.

    You may have outdone Michael Enright on CBC with his April 1 Romney skit.

    Cheers
    Yet another Bill

  • David Owens

    April 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I believe that this is a result of simple poor planning by Parks Canada. They have had 200 years to plan to distribute pillboxes (to who, by the way?). The only source in the world is to strip them from current cadets? Essentially, these pillboxes are going to be discarded, as it is very likley no one will find a use for them after the ‘celebrations’.

    So, now DND must purchase an equivalent number of US civil war re-enactment hats to clothe cadets for the next few years while pillbox production ramps up to fill the void.
    Wearing 1876 scarlet uniforms in todays military is a tie to the days when the college was created, and pillboxes are as traditional as the scarlets are. They should remain.

  • Don Peterson 8066

    April 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Your best one yet, Bill! Still, the idea is not without merit. Since the Cadet Wing started facing the sun on parade, thereby relieving the poor spectators and dignitaries of this burden – they who are in no way restricted from moving about, shading their eyes, fanning themselves with programmes, removing jackets, or hiding under umbrellas while the Wing suffers in silence – the lack of a brimmed hat has been a glaring shortcoming. The only thing missing from the new head-dress is the crest of a Canadian NHL team of the individual cadet’s choice.

    Keep them coming, my friend!

  • Alex Cushley

    April 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I can’t say I was terribly attached to my pillbox. There are more important, and relevant traditions at RMC such as saluting the Arch. I think it was a far greater loss to stop saluting the National flag in 2005, than losing an inconvenient, comical headdress. In this day and age I believe the only thing civilians can associate it with is the monkey’s hat in Disney’s Aladdin.

    I remember in particular bad sunburns and chinstrap chasing from hours on the parade square in the sun practicing for grad parades. I think the alternative design, with a brim, will improve the welfare of the cadets on parade.

    Also they won’t have to worry how horrible it looks when a chinstrap breaks and someone’s headdress is lying on the parade square.

    Also for a good cause!

  • Gord Andrews 4651

    April 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    For a few moments, I was incensed, but then realized that it is April Fools’ Day, and had a good laugh. However, the prank made me remember the irritation that I felt as a cadet in scarlets, when I was mistaken for a bell-boy in a Montreal hotel in 1957. So, a change shold not be ruled out. If RMC were to exchange tradition for utility, I would recommend either the pith helmet (the RMC band always looks great) or something similar to the traditional Australian military (“slouch”) hat. Both are more impressive than the pillbox, and more effective for screening the sun on long parades, while waiting for the dignitary.

  • Gaétan Dextras

    April 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I should have caught on at first reading that this was an April’s Fools Day prank, since the rumour started last week, and there is no way the government could move that fast!

    However, in the past year, I have heard talk about changing the pillbox to something else. To me, that would be a big mistake. The pillbox is part of the ceremonial dress just like the scarlet jacket. You can’t take away a part of it. What do you think would be the reaction of the Guards regiments if someone was to suggest the replacement of the bearskin hats? Up in arms!

    Some have suggested replacing the pillbox by a peaked cap, to provide shading on the forehead, which would relieve the cadets of sunburns since, as Don Peterson has stated, the Cadet Wing started facing the sun on parade. The easier and more practical solution to this problem is to have the cadets facing back as it was before and let the spectators face the sun! Besides, I think the peaked cap was withdrawn from service back at the time of unification.

  • Graduating Cadet

    April 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I have been at the School since 2008. I agree with many that the Pillbox is a long standing tradition at the college. I feel though that the change will represent what has actually been going on at the college in the past couple years. Traditions are progressively being taken away leaving only a strict environment void of any sense of belonging. The removal of the pillbox without even consenting the Cadet Wing before hand acts as only another sudden decision imposed on the college.

  • Graduating Cadet

    April 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Do not doubt the possibility that this could become real even if it was originally intended to be an April fools joke.

  • 8903 Lars Eif

    April 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Good one, Bill! I knew it was April Fools Day before reading this message, but I was kind of hoping the entire wing could wear the white pith helmets from now on. That would look cool. They would be ready to fight the Boer War all over again!

    – Lars

  • Pierre Quenneville

    April 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Nice try Bill. Having suffered the April fool day through my wife schemes a few hours before my colleagues Canadians (New Zealand time),I am on the watch!!!!

  • John R. Graham

    April 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Well, as Canada was sort of a haven of Confederate spies during the U.S. Civil War, I suppose it is somewhat appropriate to look like rebels. But isn’t it a little risky, given the very recent re-establishment of the RMC vs. West Point hockey game? Surely the USMC hockey team is exclusively Yankees from New England, upstate New York, and Midwestern states like Minnesota and Noth Dakota. Won’t they feel insulted to be received by hosts who look half British (scarlet tunics) and half Confederate?

    On the other hand, the pillbox was utterly useless at RMC. At Royal Roads it was useful, because we could go to the Empress Hotel in Victoria and earn tips by pretending to be bellboys. That’s why RRMC cadets were so much richer than RMC purebred cadets. I don’t think RMC cadets were able to pull it off at the Holiday Inn in Kingston, were they?

  • Robert Stairs

    April 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    As something of an outsider never having worn the pillbox (RCNC53) I hesitate to comment, bur as brother of John Stairs (2198) and nephew of James Stairs (??? but probably <500), I have to say that the pillbox means "RMC" to me.

  • 9398 Gary Moore

    April 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Although I read this well into April 1, you still got a rise out of me and I was composing my flaming email as I read to the end of the post. Great joke! The post did have me reminisce on “pillbox” memories. For parades, it was the extensive use of masking tape to have the pillbox stuck on my head. I never lost a pillbox on parade, but I did lose hair every time I tried to take it off afterwards. The one other distinctive memory was during the degree granting ceremony at grad. With me bent on one knee, the Minister of Defence did his magic and in doing so knocked my pillbox off and sent it rolling across the stage. I’ll never forget his “benediction” – “congratulations… sorry about the hat”.

    Gary Moore, ’72

  • Kurt Ahlblad

    April 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Good April Fool’s Joke! I was surprised to discover though that there is somewhat of a connection between the late Confederacy and RMC. #352 Charles Carroll Wood, who is commemorated on our Memorial Arch, was the son of John Taylor Wood, Captain of the Confederate cruiser Tallahassee. Charles’ father’s last appointment was as Brigadier General in charge of coastal artillery. That makes the choice of the scarlet trim on the Kepi plausible. Had the trim been gold (cavalry) or blue (infantry) I would have known right away it was a joke!

  • Mike Braham 6364

    April 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Bill: I not only made a complete idiot of myself over your clever ruse, but I compounded the effect by sharing my stupidity with my entire class by bringing the change of headgear to their attention in our monthly newsletter and questioning the origins of the new design.

    It’s not fair to take advantage of elderly retired folk – we barely know what day it is, let alone what date!

  • Len Gibson

    April 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Sad to see the pillbox replacement looking like a cheap US military academy headpiece. Suggest the passing on to Parks Canada will save a few $$ and most will end up as discards to waste or some storeroom
    #6247 RR/RMC

  • Jerry Bowers 7341

    April 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I had a big grin of relief when I got to the April Fool part – I was composing my reply which would have made reference to the closing of Royal Roads and other assaults on our traditions etc. Sure glad it was a joke – well done.