Organization

Canadian Army

Domestic Military Organization

Headquarters

Militia HQ

Canadian Forces HQ

National Defence HQ (NDHQ)

Political Institutions

Dept. of Militia & Defence

►►Minister of Militia & Defence

►►Militia Council

Department of National Defence

►►Minister of National Defence

►►Chiefs of Staff Committee

Reorganizations

1902-1904 Dundonald Reforms
1920 Otter Committee
1936 Reorganization
1954 Kennedy Board
1957 Anderson Report
1964 Suttie Commission
1968 Unification
1995 Special Commission

Organizational Corps/Branches

1900-1968 Organizational Corps
1968-2000 Branches

Field Forces

1914-1919  

Canadian Expeditionary Force
CEF Regional Affiliations

Territorial Reinforcement Regts.

1919

Canadian Siberian Exped Force

1939-1940 (1945) 

Canadian Active Service Force

1945

Canadian Army Pacific Force

1950-1953

Canadian Army Special Force

Field Force Formations

1914-1918  
Canadian Corps
1st Div | 2nd Div | 3rd Div | 4th Div 5th Div
1939-1945

1st Canadian Army

1st Canadian Corps

2nd Canadian Corps

Atlantic Command

Pacific Command
1st Infantry Division
2nd Infantry Division

3rd Infantry Division

4th (Armoured) Division
5th (Armoured) Division
6th Division 

7th Division 

8th Division 
1st Armoured Brigade
2nd Armoured Brigade
3rd Armoured Brigade
3rd Tank Brigade

 1950-1953
1 Com Div | 25 Inf Bde

Foreign Headquarters

Allied Forces HQ (AFHQ)

►►15th Army Group

►►►8th Army

SHAEF

►►21st Army Group

►►►2nd British Army

Special Forces

1st Canadian Para Battalion

First Special Service Force

Pacific Coast Militia Rangers

Canadian Rangers

Special Air Service (SAS) Coy

The Canadian Airborne Regt

Organizational Formations

Reserve Bdes - 1941-1945

13 Cdn Infantry Training Bde

14 Cdn Infantry Training Bde

27th Canadian Brigade

1 CMBG

2 CMBG

3 CMBG

4 CMBG

5 CMBG

1st Cdn Division (1954-1958)

1st Cdn Division (1988-2000)

Special Service Force

Auxiliary Services
Alliances

1914-1918 Triple Alliance
1939-1945 Allies
1949-1999 NATO

Veteran's Organizations

Defence Associations

Canadian Cavalry Association
Canadian Infantry Association
Intelligence Branch Association

National Defence Emp Assoc
RCAC (Cavalry)
RCA Association
RCOC Association
Union of Nat Def Employees

Veteran's Associations

ANAVETS
Royal Canadian Legion

Supplementary Order of Battle

Unit Listings by year

1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903 | 1904
1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909
1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914
1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919
1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923 | 1924
1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929
1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934
1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939
1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944
1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949
1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954
1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964
1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969
1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979
1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984
1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989
1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994
1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

Unit Listings by Corps/Branch

Armoured Units 1940-1945

Cdn Dental Corps 1939-1945
Cdn Intelligence Corps 1942-45

Cdn Provost Corps 1940-1945

Infantry Battalions 1939-1945

RCOC 1939-1945

First Canadian Army

First Canadian Army
 
Authorized: 1 April 1942
Disbanded: 20 June 1946

The First Canadian Army was the only Army raised by Canada in the 20th Century.

First Canadian First was the senior combatant formation in North-West Europe during the Second World War.

Formation

With the first mobilization in 1939, Canada brought into existence not just two infantry divisions, but a corps headquarters and "quotas of Corps, Army and Lines of Communication troops". The creation of a field army was not envisioned early in the war; even after the fall of France, it was not clear that a full Army was either desirable or within Canada's capabilities. The Army Programme for 1941 - the planning forecast by the Chief of the General Staff - spoke of completing a single corps of three divisions and emphasizing the mobilization of armoured formations.1 A year later, in August 1941, the first tentative steps towards proposing that an army be created were taken when Lieutenant General Crerar, the Chief of the General Staff, wrote to General McNaughton, commanding the Canadians in England:

To commence with, our departmental studies of man-power available do not indicate that numbers will be a restrictive factor for some time yet in respect to an expansion of the Canadian Army. Perhaps the (Adjutant-General) has already spoken to you on this subject, but, if not, I might say that our departmental appreciation indicates that man-power is available to maintain a Canadian Army of eight Divisions, of which two will be in Canada, for a war period of over six years from now. An Inter-departmental Committee on Man-Power has now been formed and is considering the calculations submitted by this and other departments such as Labour and Munitions and Supply. It may be that the results of this Committee's considerations will be somewhat at variance from the estimates we have separately reached. On the other hand, our own calculations certainly do not suffer from optimism and I believe that the numbers for the Army are there, without interfering with essential industry and other home activities, providing the Government takes the steps required to get those numbers into the Services. All the above leads me to the conclusion that, providing the Government are prepared to face up to the financial and other strain, we should be able to reinforce the Corps during 1942 with not only the 4th Division but another Armoured Division as well. This would result in too large a Corps, but have you ever considered the pros and cons of a Canadian Army comprising 2 Corps each of 2 Divisions and an Armoured Division? I fully admit that this is a pretty ambitious proposal because the necessary increase in Corps, etc., troops will be fairly heavy. At the same time, I do not think that the picture is an impossible one.2

An initial proposal went forward for an Army headquarters, to administer two corps, an infantry corps of three divisions, an an armoured corps of two armoured divisions. Following discussions in late 1941, the British recognized the need for additional headquarters to administer the growing list of Canadian formations overseas, while Canadian officials were influenced by the onset of war in the Pacific and the worsening war situation.

Authority for the formation of Army Headquarters and units to work in affiliation with it had been given by the War Committee on 11 March. In consequence, Headquarters First Canadian Army came into existence on Easter Monday, 6 April 1942, with McNaughton as G.O.C.-in.C. Crerar retained command of the Canadian Corps, which now became the 1st Canadian Corps.

The development of the new Army was to proceed by stages. The first phase would be the formation of a nucleus staff and a beginning on mobilizing the several units required to work with Army Headquarters (Army Signals, etc.) In the second phase, Army Headquarters would be gradually completed to about half its final establishment this being achieved, it was anticipated, by about the middle of June 1942 - and the related ancillary units would be brought up to strength as required. The third phase was thus outlined:

H.Q. 2 Cdn Corps would be organized on an establishment which is to be provided for the purpose to be completed about 1 Jul 42. On the completion of this H.Q. it would be exchanged with H.Q. 1 Cdn Corps in an operational role and the latter brought out of the Order of Battle and reorganized also on the lower establishment.

It proved impossible in practice to carry out this programme as planned, particularly with respect to the new Corps Headquarters. The main difficulty here was the shortage of trained staff officers. Headquarters 2nd Canadian Corps was not actually set up until 14 January 1943, some six months later than originally planned.3

General Order 131/42 dated 17 April 1942, taking effect 1 April 1942, mobilized the following units:

Serial Unit
1150 Headquarters of an Army
1153 Headquarters Army Troops Engineers, R.C.E.
1156A Headquarters Signals, R.C.C.S.
1150A Army Intelligence Section
1151 Army Field Security Section
1152 Army Headquarters Defence Company

General Order 471/42 issued 3 December 1942 redesignated Serial 1150 as "Headquarters, First Canadian Army" effective 1 April 1942.4

History

The Army operated in England for only six months as envisioned; in the summer of 1943, the 1st Canadian Division and 1st Army Tank Brigade departed for Sicily, and at the end of the year, the 1st Canadian Corps headquarters, 1st Canadian Army Group Royal Artillery, 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division and ancillary units also departed for the Mediterranean, all to serve with the British 8th Army in Italy.

The despatch of units to the Mediterranean had been a major source of controversy among the leadership of the Canadian Army. General McNaughton, commanding the First Canadian Army, had been seriously opposed to the splitting of national forces, and in December of 1943, when 1st Canadian Corps moved to Italy, partially as a result of his ongoing disagreement with the government over the issue, he relinquished command of the Army. His place was taken temporarily by Lieutenant General Ken Stuart, Chief of the General Staff, who also became the Chief of Staff of Canadian Military Headquarters, a new appointment to replace that of Senior Officer, CMHQ.

For a time after the dispatch of the 1st Canadian Corps to Italy and General McNaughton's retirement, the future of the First Canadian Army seemed to hang in the balance. The decision, arrived at after consultation with the military authorities of the United Kingdom, was to keep the Army's headquarters in existence, to place British or Allied formations under its command for the coming campaign in North-West Europe to replace the Canadian divisions which had been sent to Italy, and to bring back General Crerar from the 1st Corps to become Army Commander.5

The question was now considered whether Canada needed a field army at all, given the divergence of its forces into two theatres of war. Misunderstanding on the part of the Canadian authorities appear to have made the question more acute than it was to the British; after discussions among Canadian commanders and with British officials, the net result was that "Headquarters First Canadian Army continued to exist,essentially in the same form and under a Canadian officer." The Army now served as an Anglo-Canadian formation.6

The First Canadian Army continued to operate in the UK with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Armoured Divisions, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 2nd AGRA, and ancillary units, plus the addition of non-national units, which would be a common situation until 1945.7

First Canadian Army was the most international of the Allied formations. Apart from its Army troops, the major Canadian component was its 2nd Corps of one armoured and two infantry divisions. The place of its 1st Corps, which was fighting in Italy, had been taken by 1st British Corps and indeed, until the last two months of the War, it contained more British troops than had Montgomery's Eighth Army at Alamein. The Polish Armoured Division had become almost a permanent fixture in the Army and they were later joined by Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovakian formations. At various times American infantry and airborne divisions came under command as did commandos of the Royal Marines and the British Army. The Royal Navy participated in many of its operations and it was supported directly by No. 84 Group, RAF, with its British, Polish, Dutch, Belgian, French and New Zealand Squadrons. There were many Canadians in the Group but, curiously, by far the greatest number were in the Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons which made up over half the strength of No. 83 Group supporting Second British Army.8

Approximate casualty figures for foreign troops while serving in 1st Canadian Army 1944-451
Nationality Killed Wounded Missing Total
United Kingdom 2,611 11,572 1,898 16,081
Polish 1,163 3,840 371 5,374
United States2 179 856 356 1,391
Belgian3 73 253 35 361
Czechoslovak 17 105 2 124
Netherlands 25 91 1 117
Total 4,068 16,717 2,663 23,448
  1. Figures are approximate, as compiled in June 1945 and displayed in Volume III of the Canadian Army official history
  2. Only includes 104th U.S. Infantry Division during its time autumn of 1944
  3. Figures given for entire campaign, including periods not under Canadian command

Exercise SPARTAN in March 1943 had marked the first time that Headquarters, First Canadian Army operated in the field. General McNaughton's HQ handled 1st Canadian Corps (2nd and 3rd Canadian Division), 2nd Canadian Corps (5th Canadian (Armoured) and British Guards Armoured Divisions) and 12th British Corps (43rd (Wessex) and 53rd (Welsh) Divisions). By early 1944, First Canadian Army passed notice that training for the first three months of the year would concentrate on individual training, to prepare all men in the UK for the upcoming invasion.9

Between 24 April and 14 June 1944, First Canadian Army participated in Exercise QUICKSILVER, one of several deception schemes implemented to convince the Germans that the landings in Normandy were subsidiary to other landings in the Pas de Calais. QUICKSILVER was a wireless scheme in which radio traffic was designed to paint the picture of the First United States Army Group (FUSAG) with the 1st Canadian Army (with an American corps under command) and the 3d United States Army under command preparing for operations in the Calais area.

How far this particular scheme was effective cannot be determined with certainty from the available German records. The Germans certainly knew that we were running such schemes, for one of their intelligence documents dated 9 June refers to "the radio games played with the enemy Intelligence Service". They seem to have placed their main intelligence reliance on agents.10

The Army would serve on the Continent under 21st Army Group, and it received its first directive on 1 March 1944, outlining its tasks in Operation OVERLORD. The Army was instructed to land following the 2nd British Army between Asnelles and Ouistreham, assume responsibility for the left-hand sector of the bridgehead, and assume control of 3rd Canadian Division, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, and one British corps. It was envisioned that an advance to the east to capture Le Havre and Rouen would be required, and the Army was directed to prepare priority tables, staff studies and administrative instructions to move its headquarters, Army Troops, and the 2nd Canadian Corps (less 3rd Division, which would be detached to the British for the assault landings) to France, and to also to study the problem of how to capture these ports, with the code name Operation AXEHEAD.11

First Canadian Army played no operational role in Normandy for a month and a half after the landings. The headquarters began transferring to Normandy in the latter part of June, and on 23 July 1944, took over the line held by 1st British Corps. It was not until 31 July 1944 that Canadian units, namely the 2nd Canadian Corps, came under command of the Army.

Army Level Units 1944-45

First Canadian Army Headquarters12
  • "A" Troops

  • First Canadian Army Civil Affairs Staff

  • Troops of the Canadian Women's Army Corps

  • Troops of the Corps of Military Staff Clerks

CORPS OF ROYAL CANADIAN ENGINEERS
  • First Canadian Army Headquarters Engineer Platoon

  • 1st Canadian Cemetery Construction Unit

  • 2nd Canadian Cemetery Construction Unit

  • 1st Canadian Special Construction Platoon

  • 2nd Canadian Special Construction Platoon

  • Royal Canadian Engineers Band

  • Headquarters RCE, First Canadian Army Troops

    • 5th Field Company

    • 23rd Field Company

    • 10th Field Park Company

  • 3rd Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Platoon Type A

  • Headquarters, Second Canadian Army Troops

    • 32nd Field Company

    • 33rd Field Company

    • 34th Field Company

    • 11th Field Park Company

  • Headquarters, First Canadian Mechanical and Equipment Company

    • 1st Canadian Mechanical Equipment Park Company

    • 1st Canadian Mechanical Equipment Platoon Type B

    • 2nd Canadian Mechanical Equipment Platoon Type B

    • 3rd Canadian Mechanical Equipment Platoon Type B

    • 4th Canadian Mechanical Equipment Platoon Type B

    • 1st Canadian Machinery Spare Parts (Base) Section

  • DCE (Works) First Cdn Army

    • 1st Canadian CRE Works

    • 1st Canadian Work Section

    • 2nd Canadian Work Section

    • 3rd Canadian Work Section

    • 1st Canadian Engineer Stores Platoon

  • 2nd Canadian Drilling Company

    • 5th Canadian Drilling Platoon

    • 6th Canadian Drilling Platoon

    • 7th Canadian Drilling Platoon

    • 8th Canadian Drilling Platoon

  • 1st Canadian Road Construction Company

  • 2nd Canadian Road Construction Company

  • 1st Canadian Workshop and Park Company

  • 4th Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Platoon Type A

  • DD (Survey) First Canadian Army

    • 1st Canadian Field Survey Depot

    • 2nd Canadian Field Survey Depot (Topo)

    • 3rd Canadian Field (Reproduction) Survey Company

    • 1st Canadian (Air) Survey Company

    • 1st Canadian Modelling Team

  • DCE (Permanent Bridges) First Canadian Army

    • Canadian CRE Permanent Bridges

    • 2nd Battalion, RCE

    • 3rd Battalion, RCE

    • 1st Canadian Pile Driving Platoon

    • 2nd Canadian Pile Driving Platoon

  • Headquarters, No. 2 Canadian Railway Operating Group, RCE

    • 1st Canadian Railway Operating Company

    • 2nd Canadian Railway Operating Company

    • 1st Canadian Railway Workshop Company

    • 1st Canadian Railway Telegraph Company, RCCS

ROYAL CANADIAN ARTILLERY
  • 1st Rocket Battery, RCA

  • 1st Radar Battery, RCA

  • 107th AA Brigade

    • 16th AA Operations Room, RCA

    • 2nd Heavy AA Regiment, RCA

    • 109th Heavy AA Regiment, RA

    • 1st Canadian Centaur Battery, RCA

ROYAL CANADIAN CORPS OF SIGNALS
  • First Canadian Army Signal Regiment

  • 1st Air Signal Support Unit

  • HQ 1st Canadian Line of Communications Terminals

  • No. 1 Special Wireless Sections

  • No. 2 Special Wireless Sections

  • No. 3 Special Wireless Sections

CORPS OF ROYAL CANADIAN ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERS
  • No. 1 Light Aid Detachment, First Canadian Army Signal Regiment, RCEME

  • No. 88 LAD, 25th Cdn Armoured Delivery Regiment (Elgin Regiment), RCEME

  • No. 10 LAD, First Cdn Army Field Park, RCEME

  • 3rd Line Workshops

    • 1x General Workshop

    • 3x Infantry Troops Workshops

    • 2x Armoured Troops Workshops

    • 2x Tank Troops Workshops

    • 1x Engineer Equipment Workshop

    • 1x Engineer Servicing Unit

CANADIAN ARMOURED CORPS
  • HQ and "F" Sqn, 25th Cdn Armoured Delivery Regiment (Elgin Regiment)

CANADIAN INFANTRY CORPS
  • First Canadian Army Defence Battalion (The Royal Montreal Regiment)

ROYAL CANADIAN ARMY SERVICE CORPS
  • No. 1 Cdn Movement Control Unit

  • No. 1 Army HQ Car Unit

  • No. 35 Army Troops Composite Company

  • No. 36 Army Troops Composite Company

  • No. 41 Army Transport Company

  • No. 45 Army Transport Company

  • No. 47 Army Transport Company

  • No. 63 Army Transport Company

  • No. 64 Army Transport Company

  • No. 1 Motor Ambulance Company

  • No. 2 Motor Ambulance Company

  • No. 1 Canadian Advance Stationery Depot

  • No. 1 Mobile Printing Section

  • No. 2 Tipper Platoon

ROYAL CANADIAN ARMY MEDICAL CORPS
  • No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 Field Transfusion Units

  • No. 3, 9, 10, 11, and 16 Field Dressing Stations

  • No. 14 Field Hygiene Section

  • No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station

  • No. 4 Field Surgical Unit

  • No. 1 Mobile Hygiene Laboratory

  • No. 1 Advanced Depot Medical Stores

ROYAL CANADIAN ORDNANCE CORPS
  • No. 8 and 9 Mobile Bath and Laundry Units

  • No. 1 Cdn Ordnance Maintenance Coy

  • No. 1 Cdn Salvage Depot

  • No. 4 (Railhead) Salvage Unit

  • No. 10 Cdn Salvage Unit

  • No. 1 Special Stores Coy

  • No. 1 and 2 Mobile Ammunition Repair Units

  • No. 1, 3, 4, and 5 Cdn Salvage Collecting Centre

  • No. 3 Cdn Corps and Army Troops Sub Park

  • No. 1 Special Vehicle Coy

  • No. 4 and 5 Forward Ammunition Maintenance Coys

  • No. 2 Forward Maintenance Stores Section

  • No. 1 Cdn Demobilization Depot

  • No. 2 Cdn Demobilization Centre

CANADIAN DENTAL CORPS
  • No. 4 Company

  • 2nd Army Dental Stores

CANADIAN POSTAL CORPS
  • No. 1 Army Base Post Office

CANADIAN INTELLIGENCE CORPS
  • No. 1, 2, and 3 Field Press Censor Sections

  • No. 4 Special Field Press Censor Section

  • No. 1 Information Control Unit

  • No. 1 Cdn Army Intelligence Pool

  • No. 1 Cdn Army Interrogation Pool

  • No. 1 Cdn Modelling Team

  • No. 1 Army Intelligence Officer’s Pool

  • No. 1 Cdn Interpreters Pool

  • No. ?? Cdn Army Refugee Interrogation Team

  • First Cdn Army Photographic Processing Unit

  • First Cdn Army Photographic Interpretation Section

  • No. 1 Cdn Special Wireless Intelligence Section

  • No. 2 and 3 Cdn Wireless Intelligence Sections

Miscellaneous
  • 6x Detachments of the Cdn Army Show

Senior Personnel

Commanders

General A.G.L. McNaughton, CB, CMG, DSO (6 Apr 1942 - 26 Dec 1943)
General H.D.G. Crerar, CB, DSO (20 Mar 1944 - 30 Jul 1945)

Lieutenant General G.G. Simonds also took over acting command of the Army on occasions in NW Europe when General Crerar was indisposed.

Chief of Staff

Brigadier G.G. Simonds (1942- 1943)
Brigadier C.C. Mann (28 Jan 1944 - 1945)

Chief Engineer

Major General C.S.L. Hertzberg

Deputy Adjutant & Quarter Master General

Major General G.R. Turner
Major General A.E. Walford, CB, CBE, MM, ED

Brigadier, Royal Artillery

Brigadier H.O.N. Brownfield, CBE, MC
Brigadier E.C. Plow, CBE, DSO

GSO I, Royal Artillery

Lieutenant Colonel W.S. Ziegler (3 Jul 1942 - 24 May 1943)
Lieutenant Colonel H.A. Sparling
Lieutenant Colonel F.D. Lace
Lieutenant Colonel F.LeP.T. Clifford
Lieutenant Colonel D.L. Gordon, MBE

Lieutenant Colonel William Smith Ziegler was a prewar artillery officer who joined the 8th Canadian Army Field Regiment as a captain on 4 September 1939, being assigned to a Super Heavy Battery a year later. On 14 September 1940, he went to the headquarters of the Third Canadian Infantry Division as a major, then appointed lieutenant colonel in General Intelligence, Headquarters (Artillery), First Canadian Army on 3 July 1942. He went to command the 13th Field Regiment of 3rd Division on 24 May 1943 and helped organize the First Canadian Army artillery headquarters. A recommendation for the Distinguished Service Order noted that his personality allowed him to create close relations with other formation headquarters, and he played a large part in creating and conducting artillery exercises in First Canadian Army. He was assigned to the 1st Canadian Division as Commander, Royal Artillery on 4 March 1944.


Officers of the First Canadian Army, 20 May 1945. Seated H.S. Maczek (GOC 1st Polish Armd Div), E.C. Hudleston (RAF), G.G. Simonds (GOC II Cdn Corps), H.D.G. Crerar (GOC-i-C, 1st Cdn Army), C. Foulkes (GOC I Cdn Corps), B.M. Hoffmeister (GOC 5 Cdn Div), S.B. Rawlins (GOC 49 (WR) Div (Brit)). Standing: W.P. Gilbride, C.C. Mann (COS, 1st Cdn Army), J.F.A. Lister, G. Kitching, R.H. Keefler (GOC 3 Cdn Div), A.B. Matthews (GOC 2 Cdn Div), E.L.M. Burns, H.W. Foster (GOC 1 Cdn Div), R.W. Moncel, H.E. Rodger, H.V.D. Laing (LAC photo PA 138509)

Location of Army Headquarters

  • Headley Court, Leatherhead, Surrey

  • Amblie, France (18 June - 30 August 1944)

  • Brionne, France (30 August 1944)

  • Pihem, France (7 September 1944)

  • Antwerp, Belgium (19 October - 15 November 1944)

  • Tilburg, The Netherlands (15 November 1944 - 7 February 1945)

  • Udem, The Netherlands (7 February - 8 March 1945)

Signalman J.T. Prime of 1st Canadian Army Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (R.C.C.S.), operates a local radio receiver and remote unit at Zeddam, Netherlands on 4 April 1945. He wears the standard 1st Canadian Army formation flash on the sleeves of his battle dress, with letters denoting his corps superimposed. LAC photo.

H/Captain Samuel Cass, a rabbi, conducting the first worship service celebrated on German territory by Jewish personnel of the 1st Canadian Army near Cleve, Germany, 18 March 1945. LAC photo.

Uniform Insignia

At the start of the Second World War, it was felt that colourful unit and Formation Patches would be too easily seen, and a very austere set of insignia was designed for the new Battle Dress uniform, consisting solely of rank badges and drab worsted Slip-on Shoulder Titles. In 1941, however, the trend was reversed, and a new system of formation patches, based on the battle patches of the First World War, was introduced. However, the use of lettered unit titles (at first won as Slip-on Shoulder Titles and later, as more colourful designs worn directly above the divisional patches) was also introduced - a privilege previously extended only to the Brigade of Guards in England, and in the Canadian Army to just four units: Governor General's Foot Guards, Canadian Grenadier Guards, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the Canadian Provost Corps.

The new formation patches were made from three materials mainly; felt and wool being most common, and canvas patches were adopted in the late war period as an economy measure.

Members of various corps serving in support units came to wear formation patches with letters added directly to the patch. A formation patch with a maroon coloured strip in the middle was worn by some members of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC).

 


Wool

Canvas


Officers' quality wire embroidered

Artifacts and images courtesy of Bill Alexander. Gold wire officers' version of CDC Army patch courtesy Dwayne Hordij.

Notes

  1. Stacey, C.P. Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War: Volume I: Six Years Of War (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1956), pp.43-88

  2. Ibid, p.94

  3. Ibid, p.99

  4. Tonner, Mark W. On Active Service (Service Publications, Ottawa, ON) ISBN 1-894581-44-X

  5. Stacey, Ibid, p.222

  6. Stacey, C.P.  Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War: Volume III: The Victory Campaign (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1960) p.32

  7. Falconer, D.W. Battery Flashes of W.W. II (D.W. Falconer, 1985) ISBN 0-9691865-0-9 p.319

  8. Williams, Jeffery The Long Left Flank: The Hard Fought Way to the Reich 1944-1945 (Stoddard Publishing Co. Ltd., Toronto, ON, 1988) ISBN 0-7737-2194-0 p.18

  9. Stacey, Volume I, Ibid, pp.250-252

  10. Stacey, Volume III, Ibid, p.75

  11. Ibid, p.39

  12. Information courtesy Martin Schenkel

Thank you also to Marius Heideveld for his assistance with this page.

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