The WWII Jeep in Canadian Service Book Review
By Cookie Sewell
|Date of Review||September 2007||Title||The WWII Jeep in Canadian Service|
|Author||Eric Booth||Publisher||Service Publications|
|Format||24 pages, softbound||MSRP (CDN)||$9.95|
Probably the most diehard attempt to take back a name belongs to Daimler-Chrysler, who copyrighted the name "Jeep" and now require it to be trademarked when used on commercial products. But it is an enduring name and one that other than merchandising will never truly be owned. Ford tried to deviate away from it with their "Military Utility Tactical Truck" or MUTT in 1962; nobody ever used that name in service, and it was always a "jeep." Period.
There have been a large number of books written about just about every possible aspect of the Jeep and its life – where the name possibly came from, its lineage, its variants, its use and users, and modifications and its descendants today. But to the best of my knowledge, this is the first book on the CANADIAN use of the little beastie and that alone should make it desirable to Jeep fans.
Written by Eric Booth, a former Canadian soldier and vehicle preservation fan with three Jeeps to his name, this book covers how the Canadian military acquired their first light vehicle – an unsuccessful Chevrolet 4 x 2 8 cwt design – in April 1940 and how their acquisitions, like those of the US and Britain, morphed and expanded over the course of the war. Originally opting for the Ford GP, they found to their dismay it was being dropped in favor of "another vehicle" which emerged as the Ford GPW copy of the Willys MB design. Canada soon found itself with requirements for 1,500 vehicles, but ran into the problem that the US had contracted for all of its production with either the US Army or the British Army, and the Canadian armed forces had to negotiate to get some of the British vehicles. They also later received 22 Ford GPA "Seeps" of which only a few went overseas.
Over the years Canada did receive six lots with a total of 13,800 vehicles; the last 2,800 were rebuilt used American ones. But like all resourceful forces, the Canadians "adopted" other vehicles when actually involved in overseas combat. It was noted that the Canadian units may have two or more jeeps with the same serials and registration numbers, but the goal was to ensure that none of the "twins" appeared next to its sibling at any time! Surprisingly none of the Canadians adopted the traditional US approach to "borrowers" of welding a chain to the body and padlocking it to the steering wheel. (This only works up to a point; I know of units in Vietnam that went searching for unguarded Ford jeeps with spare hoods and a set of "midnight requisition keys" that looked suspiciously like a large pair of bolt cutters. But I digress...)
Even so, the Canadians reckoned they never had enough, and the units in Italy noted they were short 650 jeeps at the end of the war as opposed to their needs. Canada cancelled all further contracts for jeeps on 14 May 1945. Postwar many Canadian jeeps were turned over to fledgling European armies such as Norway, Greece, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands.
The Canadian army has always taken a different attitude to either the American or Commonwealth forces, and as such their vehicles reflect a "third way." Jeeps were no different. One major change was eliminating the right headlight (normally fitting a bridge weight classification disk there, but in a pinch the Canadian snorkel equipment could also be routed through the missing light bezel) and putting a blackout shroud over the left one on many vehicles (US ones had both headlights and a dedicated blackout light on the left front fender.) Many jeeps were fitted with sockets for a Canadian-designed extension rack for three stretchers (similar to the old Italeri model ambulance jeep.) Even the British War Office finally liked the design and "borrowed" it.
The Canadian vehicles were modified to carry the British No. 19 and No. 22 wireless (HF radio) sets, but since the jeep had a 6-volt electrical system they needed modifications to run the radios. This resulted in having to carry two batteries for the radios as none of the jeeps were ever apparently converted to run 12-volt electrical systems.
The Canadians believed in "daisy-chaining" trailers and added trailer towing pintles to their normal 1/4 ton jeep trailers (US provided) and also to a unique 10 cwt single-axle trailer of their own design. The one fault of this book is there are no photos of either one with this fitting nor plans of the 10 cwt, which is a shame as 5,500 were built and used.
Initially the Canadian vehicles were repainted khaki or brown with black "foliage" pattern (called "Mickey Mouse" for its resemblance to a certain famous pair of ears) but from 1943 onward they were left in flat US olive drab; postwar they were repainted gloss green. All were given Canadian Mechanisation Depot (CMD) serial numbers, which for these vehicles had a CM prefix – C for Canada and M for 5 cwt weight class. Numbers were white and stencils were avoided. Airborne vehicles could use blue to reduce visibility.
Originally Canadian jeeps had a four-color British-style roundel on the hood, but after D-D-Day all vehicles except for RCAF liaison vehicles were repainted with the standard "star in a circle" markings. Most also bore "CAUTION - LEFT HAND DRIVE NO SIGNAL" warnings for use in British areas.
Overall a nice book to show what the jeep did in Canadian service.
Thanks to Service Publications for the review copy.