Another still from the NFB film shows a soldier carrying a box under his left arm and his swagger stick in his right hand. Unable to salute, he executes an eyes right. (1)
Remembering the early days of the 25th Battalion, NS Regiment, Captain Clements wrote about the strictures soldiers faced when they ventured into town:
Clothing had to be properly worn, all buttons shining and fastened, no badges missing, belts in place, knitted woollen gloves on hands and not missing or in the pockets of their greatcoats. For a time, men were required to carry what were known as swagger sticks. These were short tapered sticks about two feet long, usually with a small metal cap at the top and a ferrule at the bottom. These were not a free issue and had to be purchased by the men themselves. The purpose was not really as the name seemed to suggest, to add a bit of swank to the soldier’s appearance. It was simply that when he carried a stick in his hand he could not go along with that hand in his pocket, a practice which was considered to be most unmilitary. With stick in left hand and right hand busy saluting officers along the route of his wanderings, the problem of sloppy appearance with hands in pockets was largely eliminated. Senior NCOs and officers carried full-length canes. (2)
In his portrait to the left of this screen, you can clearly see Percy’s swagger stick and his (leather) gloves in his right hand.
(1) National Film Board of Canada. Images of a Forgotten War.Films of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War.n.d.
(2) Clements, Robert. Merry Hell. The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment) CEF 1914-1919. Ed. B.D. Tennyson. 2013. 18