07 Jun 2022 / Archive, We get emails
Question to our alumni submitted by 15747 Tony Connolly, CMR RMC, Class of 1987
I was hoping you could reach out to the alumni and shed some light on the item in the photos. For context, my neighbor here in Georgia was a West Point cadet when he travelled to RMC in the fall of 1966 for the RMC/West Point weekend. He exchanged some of his kit for this item. He recently gifted me the item and I wanted to learn more about it.
Any feedback on the item or direction on who may be able to assist me would be appreciated. Please comment below.
The item in question is a swagger stick. Swagger sticks were part of the walking out dress. Whenever we went into town we carried our swagger sticks. There was quite a procedure when we would meet an officer requiring a salute. The swagger stick was smartly tucked under the left armpit while we saluted then smartly moved back to it’s regular carrying position, in the right hand, balanced, parallel to the ground.
Thanks for the note. For the life of me I could come up with the term swagger stick but I had assumed it had something to do with standard kit. All the best.
It is an RMC “swagger” stick. Carried by cadets on leave in uniform. I still had Trolololol up to a few years ago. I recall learning swagger stick drill.
Thank you for taking the time to comments. Swagger stick drill would have been interesting.
It is a RMC swagger stick.
This from Wikipedia
A swagger stick is a short stick or riding crop usually carried by a uniformed person as a symbol of authority. A swagger stick is shorter than a staff or cane, and is usually made from rattan. Its use derives from the vine staff carried by Roman centurions as an emblem of office.
Thanks for the note.
Clearly, a stick suitable for young, swaggering cadets: a swagger stick. Some of us in the class of 77 (a decade after the item in the photos) had swagger sticks that came sort of as a joke. A member of our class had them made in Pakistan and we purchased them. There must be photos somewhere of us swaggering around with our sticks, acting like we thought officers should act, or maybe as we imagined they had acted in the Good Old Days.
Thanks for the note. Any guess as to the last class that had the swagger sticks. Sounds like your class was the last or close to it.
This is known as a badine, a short cane that senior officer cadets worn with the No 5 or scarlet uniforms ( era 50 mid 66)
Thanks for the note. Looks like the translation is “a short, decorated switch or rod, carried by the fashionable in the 18th or 19th centuries.” That hits the mark. All the best.
I still have my swagger stick! Slightly bent it now rests proudly in a shelf corner along side my much more authoritative leather wrapped Canadian Army version.
Alas, I can no longer flip it in the air doing a 360 degree spin along the horizontal (length-wise) axis, and then catch it smartly while contin my stride ( which also can no longer do convincingly). This explains the slight curve it suffered.
However, in its retirement, it has found probanly it’s most useful role ever – in that it daily assists me as an extension of my arm to open and close several curtains. I believe I may have to take it with me as I continue on my journey….lol.
It is a swagger stick just like mine. Got it at CMR 1966-69. Graduated RMC 1971.
Thanks for the info. Appreciate you taking the time.
Good grief, do people not know what a swagger stick is??? Recruits had to properly march and salute while carrying one before being passed off the square and being let out of the college. Also useful for beating off Queens students.
When did it stop being a piece of required kit (that you had to purchase)?
Wasn’t required when I entered in August 1972.
While I had some idea of it’s use I really didn’t know it was called a swagger stick. Not sure when it stopped being a requirement but I wasn’t issued one when I went to CMR in 1982. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
It’s a swagger stick. Carried as a rank designator, I believe they were used in the army up until unification in 1968. There’s a fair bit of information available from wikipedia as well as Canadian web sites on their use.
Thanks for the feedback.
Swagger sticks were issued to all cadets in the period. They were used for. informal walks with dress Blues and with capes. There was an etiquette on how to salute, carry, etc.
Class of ’61
Thanks for taking time to provide some context. I was happy to get my hands on one as I wasn’t issued one.
I still keep my two swagger sticks on a bookshelf.
I got them during my years at RMC Kingston, 1950-1955.
The leather one was used during summer training with RCEME.
I don’t ever recall using the cane one at the College but it’s exactly the same as the one pictured above.
Thanks. I have placed this one on my bookshelf as well. Appreciate the feedback.
It is indeed a swagger stick which was issued to cadets with their kit upon arrival at RMC. I believe our class (1969-1973) was the last class to be issued this item and have the requisite training. It was abandoned by year’s end, 1969.
Thanks for taking the time to provide your insights. Now I have a good timeline on the use of the swagger stick.
The guys who wrote to explain the swagger stick have done well. The use of a swagger stick of course goes back to the British Army traditions of the 19th century, but it definitely doesn’t fit in in modern times, and it’s good to know that it has gone. The ex-cadet who mentioned it was an obligatory piece of kit that had to be purchased is also right; one had to buy it at the College canteen in the basement of Yeo Hall. I can’t remember the exact price, but it was around $2.00, which was significant when one’s pay was $50.00 per month.
Thanks for the detailed feedback. Appreciate the effort.
They were not required when I entered CMR in the fall of 1969. I do remember a RCEME Captain, who was a math professor at CMR, had one. We used to line up just far enough apart when meeting him on the side walk that he had to go through the whole saluting rigamarole for each of us in the line. Our attempt at humour as we could find it.
Swagger stick – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swagger_stick
Swagger stick. I believe that they were issued when we arrived at RMC in 1966 and not at Royal Roads in 1964. Clearly an ‘army thing’ whereas Royal Roads was more naval oriented. Ours had a silver head as opposed to the brass one shown – which was probably older and did not have the “Made in B’Ham / England” stamped into it.
As I was born about seven miles from Birmingham I should point out that Birmingham and the nearby “Black Country” was where the Industrial Revolution began – since the ingredients from the production of iron and steel, namely, iron ore, limestone and coal, were plentiful in the area. Birmingham became well known around the world for its production of metal items from “pins to locomotives’. And clearly swagger sticks.
Thanks for the detail and the personal history. My Dad was born outside London so I have a tie to the UK.
(Tongue in cheek or 😉 or 😉 … depending on your vintage)
You are all wrong.
It is ancient history.
The first winking face was supposed to be a closed parentheses followed by a semi-colon.
i.e. ” 😉 “
Tony, it’s a tape measure. Maybe too much time on the rugby field?
Hope you are well, and hope see you in September. DD
I was surprised I didn’t get the “tape measure” answer earlier – took a rugby player to state the obvious. 😀To be honest, I haven’t looked into going I. September but it looks like it’s our 35th….
Hope you and the family are all well.
This item is a swagger stick, which was a cadet uniform item throughout my four years at RMC (1964-68).
I am unaware of any practical function that this item ever served…to me it seemed as arcane as the pillbox hats we all wore (although the swagger stick was definitely more fun and more cool).
As I recall, we carried our swagger sticks particularly with our walking out uniform (fondly referred to as “fours”).
I’m not sure why, but–as memory serves–the correct way to carry the swagger stick in our day was loosely grasped at its centre of gravity between the right thumb and index finger of the right hand, so that it could pivot and stay parallel to the ground as your hands swung smartly back and forth.
One West Point weekend I switched uniforms with cadet from Louisiana before we went to a pub in Kingston. We must have been quite a pair as I tried to balance what felt like a size 6 cap on a size 7 3/4 head and he had to handle a swagger stick and a rather large pillbox hat.