Nambu World: Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR)

This is the cover of the January, 1945 edition of The Ranger, the monthly magazine of the PCMR. The PCMR was a militia force formed in British Columbia to patrol against possible Japanese invasion of Canadafs west coast. There are several excellent links at the bottom of the page with very detailed information on the history of this force, so here I will just provide a very brief summary and show a few PCMR artifacts that are in my collection: a cap badge, arm band, carbine and some copies of the group's magazine.

The force was formed on March 14, 1942. At first it was called the Coast Defense Reserve Militia, but the name was soon changed to the better known PCMR. Over one hundred companies were formed across British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. At first they used their own weapons, and then some old surplus P-17, Ross and other rifles, but eventually most were issued lever-action Winchester Model 94 .30-30 caliber carbines, with a few Marlins as well. Their uniform at first consisted of just a cap badge and armband, but later some weatherproof tunics and other gear were issued. Some 15,000 men ranging from adolescents to grandfathers served in the PCMR. It was disbanded in September, 1945. Although they never engaged the Japanese in battle, they performed vital work such as emergency rescue and firefighting. Perhaps most importantly, they instilled some degree of confidence in the local population that they were being protected without tying up large numbers of regular forces who were needed overseas. By providing a degree of military control and discipline they also kept any overenthusiastic locals from running around the woods shooting at shadows in the hysteria-prone atmosphere of the day.

 PCMR Cap Badge:

One of the two pieces of the original guniformh of the force, the cap badge had a totem pole-like representation of a mythical thunderbird at the top and a maple leaf in the centre superimposed on a crossed rifle and double-bladed axe. The motto vigilans at the bottom means watchful or alert in Latin. The badge is about 40 mm (1-1/2h) high and 43mm (1-3/4h) wide. It is made of a non-magnetic material that seems to be copper or a copper alloy.

Here is the back of the badge showing the tangs that were used to attach it to onefs cap. You can also see three sets of markings: gPMP Ltd.h in the lower left; a stylized PMP logo in the centre, repeated on either side of the lower tang; and gVancouverh, the location of production, in the lower right. Close-ups of all three follow. There was another, later version of the badge that had holes in it so it could be sewn to onefs cap instead of being attached by tangs like this one.

PMP Ltd. was the name of the firm that made the badges. I have been told they are still in business.

On either side of the lower tang is the stylized company logo with the first P reversed.

 

This is the location of production marking found on the lower right of the reverse of the badge.

 

PCMR Armband:

The second component of the original guniformh was an armband. I got this one at a gun show in Vancouver in March, 2006. It is from the 15th Company, which was headquartered in Duncan. It bears the name of Cowichan, which is a small community on Vancouver Island slightly south of Duncan (north of Victoria). Cowichan later became the home of its own company, No. 20.

This shot shows the back.

Here it is opened up so you can see the whole thing. It is about 92mm (3-5/8h) wide and 360mm (14-1/8h) wide.

Rear view, opened up.

The Ranger Magazine:

The Ranger magazine was issued from September, 1942 until October, 1945. I have only one issue, January, 1945, which I bought in the early 1990s because the cover photo showed a Sten gun. At that time I did not even know what the PCMR was, nor had my interest in the Pacific War begun to blossom. This issue is 228mm (9h) wide and 296mm (11-3/4h) tall. It had sixteen pages including the covers and was full of articles on understanding the enemy, small group tactics, woodsmanship, marksmanship and the war in general. The description of the cover photo begins: gAppropriately enough the man on this monthfs cover is an Indian. No one is more fitted to take part in the defense of this province than the native son, for his heritage as a British Columbian runs far back into the beginning of time. We are glad to have his native skill and woodcraft working against the common enemy.h Since discrimination against aboriginal people was rampant at the time (and is still far from unknown), this was clearly intended to signal that such feelings should be put aside, at least for the duration of the war. I have read each company was issued Sten guns for the NCOs and officers. (I have since received one other issue of the magazine on indefinite loan).

The first feature article in this issue covered Japanese infantry weapons and was based on a US identification poster that was issued as a supplement to an American military magazine. Coincidentally, I ended up buying one of these posters years later, not realizing at first that on my shelf I had a magazine article based on it. It would have been interesting to see how the Arisaka performed in a head-to-head confrontation with Winchester .30-30s, but fortunately such a clash never occurred. Since the BC coast is heavily wooded and any conflict would have occurred at very close quarters, the Winchester was not a bad choice. It was also familiar to most men of the day and its use did not divert standard military weapons from fronts where they were urgently needed.

As noted above, the standard weapons was a Winchester Model 1894 .30-30 lever action rifle. The article below is from page 7 and commemorates the 50th anniversary of that venerable weapon. The article ends: ecif it killed a bear cleanly for you in the piping times of peace you can be quite sure that it will drill a Jap or any other unwholesome vermin who make the mistake of cluttering up our coast.h The use of crude racist language and stereotyping was common and reflected widespread sentiments of the time. I have seen another Ranger article in another issue about how to differentiate between a Chinese and a Japanese. It contained nothing but crude and inaccurate stereotypes, but did serve the purpose of telling the members that not all non-whites were the enemy, which was no doubt also part of the motivation for the cover photo shown above.

When the PCMR was disbanded the men were allowed to buy their rifles from the government for $5. An example of such a rifle and its matching receipt is shown below.

 PCMR Winchester Model 1894 Carbine

    As noted in the above Ranger article, the Winchester Model 1894 Carbine in .30-30 calibre was the standard weapon of the PCMR, although they also issued some Marlins and a few Winchester lever actions of other models. Through the generous assistance of a dedicated PCMR collector, in 2008 I was able to add one of these rifles to my collection, along with the receipt showing its provenance. In principle they are the basic Winchester model, although with a rather makeshift looking front sling swivel to accommodate the standard canvas Lee-Enfield sling used by the Canadian military. They were marked with the Canadian military marking called the "C-broad arrow" by collectors. Here is the right side.

The left side.

Close-up of the right side of the action.

And the left side. Note the position of the marking in the lower front corner of the action.

Here is a close-up of the "C-broad arrow". This mark is applied three times: here on the receiver, on the butt stock and on the forestock.

Here is the one on the butt stock (upside down).

The one on the forestock is quite faint, perhaps from wear.

I believe the rest of the markings are standard. Here is the left side of the barrel just in front of the sight.

Just a little further back on the same side. .30W.C.F. (Winchester Centre-Fire) is the old name for .30-30.

The serial number is under the front of the receiver. I believe all the PCMR model 94s are from this approximate serial range.

Here is the rear sight. You can also see the two Winchester proof marks (WP in an oval cartouche).

The rear tang.

    A close-up of that crude swivel I mentioned. I have been told that although the carbines themselves were issued free of charge, the militiamen had to pay for this accessory, which was necessary to attach the standard Canadian military sling.

At the end of the war the militiamen had the option of buying their rifles for $5. Here is the receipt for this one.

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PCMR links:

The best general information on the PCMR is at this link: PCMR

Another good one is: Pacific Coast Militia Rangers - www.canadiansoldiers.com

One that focuses on the use of the Winchester Model 94 .30-30 rifle is: PCMR, Pacific Coast Militia Rangers &The BC Rangers

 

To return to the Nambu World: Canada and the Pacific War page, please click here: Nambu World: Canada and the Pacific War

To return to the Nambu World home page, please click here: Nambu World: Terifs WWII Japanese Handgun Website

 

Last updated:  June 27, 2008. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.