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Origin of the Blue Beret

Heroes Remember

Origin of the Blue Beret

Interviewer: It turned out that the Suez crisis continued for a period of time and finally resulted in UN participation. Can you describe that to me? It was the United Nations Emergency Force, as it ended up, it was Emergency Force 1, because the subsequent force came in and it was designed to form a buffer between the Egyptians and the Israelis. The other aspect of this particular force was there was two major powers involved, the Americans and the British and they weren't necessarily on the same side. So that's when Mr. Pearson, the then Secretary of State for External Affairs or Foreign Minister, is a better term, made recommendations to United Nations headquarters in New York to the Security Council, that there needed to be a neutral body put in place. So that force was put in place and to be quite frank, I can't remember the other countries that contributed to this particular force, but because of the similarity in uniforms, because remember we were still wearing battle dress, similar to the British battle dress and so forth, similarity between our uniform, Canadian uniform and the British forces that there had to be a distinctive headdress, hence the Blue Beret and Casablic (sp?) came into being Blue Beret or blue helmet, so they could tell the difference.

Mr.Ethell speaks about his deployment to the Suez crisis and the creation of the Blue Beret.

Donald Stewart Ethell

Donald Stewart Ethell was born in July 1937 and was raised in Victoria, BC. His father was a Veteran of both the First and Second World Wars. His mother was a nurse. He and his sister attended boarding school because of his parents' jobs and he was only home at Christmas and during the summer. His mother passed away when Mr. Ethell was 10 years old.

When he enlisted, Mr. Ethell joined the Queen's Own Rifles in Calgary. After several years of serving as an infantryman he was recommended for the officer training. Mr. Ethell graduated from the program and rose to the rank of Colonel. He went on to command Canadian, and United Nations, forces in various missions all over the world. In the mid 1990s, Col. Ethell retired with over thirty-five years of distinguished service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald Stewart Ethell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Suez Crisis

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