Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Clarification on the Canadian Army's Historic Insignia Announcement

On July 9, 2013, the Canadian Army (renamed from Land Force Command in 2011), released a news backgrounder (the full text of which is available here). Under the headline "Restoring the Canadian Army's historical identity", several key announcements were made:

  • the Land Force Areas into which Canada was organized were to be renamed as Divisions, to be accompanied by (one assumes) traditional patches associated with those formations
  • the reintroduction of traditional rank insignia for officers below the rank of Brigadier-General
  • Corps shoulder titles to accompany the restoration of traditional titles granted in April 2013
  • The readoption of the Army's former insignia as a new secondary badge
The proposed changes include the re-introduction of divisional nomenclature and patches for the current Land Force Areas; traditional rank insignia for officers; corps shoulder titles following the restoration of traditional titles to a number of Canadian Army corps in April 2013; and the Canadian Army’s secondary badge.

Further, the Minister of National Defence announced the intention to restore the historical Army rank names for non-commissioned members (i.e. Trooper for privates serving in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, etc.)

Some clarity on certain issues may be in order, as discussion in social media has been rampant and in some cases, from an uninformed perspective.


More information on Domestic Military Organization can be found on the website by following the link. The Land Force Areas are currently as below:

The 1st Canadian Division was recently stood up, once again, for the fifth time in history. This is the only division to be activated in peacetime (1954-1958, 1988-2000, and 2011 to present), the division is headquartered in Kingston and has several missions according to DND:

The 1st Canadian Division (1st Cdn Div) is a fully deployable unit trained and enabled at an advanced state of readiness to lead Canadian Armed Forces operations at home and abroad.
The 1st Cdn Div assumes the tasks of Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) and to deploy the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).

The division has three high-readiness tasks:

  • Humanitarian operations, such as those conducted in Haiti in 2010;
  • Non-combatant Evacuation Operations for the safe evacuation of Canadians abroad, such as from Lebanon in 2006; and
  • Full-spectrum operations, such as those in Afghanistan.
The history of Canada's other divisions can be found in sketch form on the website, under the "Organization" section.

It is interesting to note that, for example, the U.S. military has retained a very division-centred military, with recognizable formation patches and system of lineages. While individual regiments still trace their historical lineage back through various conflicts, loyalties seem to be also strongly be felt towards the division - "The Big Red One", "Rock of the Marne", etc.

From the Backgrounder:

Land Force Areas will be renamed as divisions and Canadian Army personnel will wear appropriate division patches. Formations will be renamed as follows:
  • Land Force Quebec Area will be referred to as “2nd Canadian Division”;
  • Land Force Western Area will be referred to as “3rd Canadian Division”;
  • Land Force Central Area will be referred to as “4th Canadian Division”;
  • Land Force Atlantic Area will be referred to as “5th Canadian Division”; and
  • Land Force Doctrine and Training System will be referred to as “Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre”.
There will be no change to 1st Canadian Division Headquarters.

Exact colours of the divisional insigina are still subject to confirmation (see discussion below), but the general historical shades are above. Some divisions picked up nicknames during their war service - "The Mighty Maroon Machine" of the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division in the Second World War, and the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division was briefly known as the "Water Rats". The appelation was a play on the "Desert Rats" nickname that the British 7th Armoured had acquired in the Western Desert, and was a testament to the number of amphibious operations the division had participated in, as well as the requirement of operating in flooded terrain. This included the landings in Normandy, the fighting at Calais, the fighting for the Breskens Pocket during the Battle of the Scheldt, the fighting in the Rhineland, and the Rhine crossing.

The divisional insignia was first adopted as tactical insignia in 1916, worn in the form of cloth patches on the sleeves of service dress uniforms by soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Each division wore a cloth formation patch 3 inches wide by 2 inches tall, with units in each division further identified by geometric shapes of different colours added to the basic patch. The insignia was also used on steel helmets, signage, etc. The book Distinguishing Patches by Clive Law discusses the history of this insignia in detail.

Even with the strong "Regimental System" in place, a certain amount of identification and loyalty was built up around the national Divisions during the world wars. Here, senior non-commissioned soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Division are seen in Dieppe following its liberation in 1944. The royal blue patch of the division is clearly visible on the sleeves of their uniforms, and the divisional insignia is also shown on the upper left of the sign admonishing soldiers to keep the reputation of the division intact by their behaviour. (LAC Photo)
G1 Heritage Sitrep

On 24 July 2013, an "internal document" made its way into the public domain, providing further clarity in some areas (some abbreviations in the original have been spelled out in full; also note also that reference is made to images that were not provided in the public domain document and are thus not provided here):


Div G1 reps, here is expedient SITREP 02 to further assist your Div G1s and Div SMs to respond to the recent MND announcements on changes to Canadian Army identity.


1. Cost
2. Divisions
3. NCM Rank Names
4. Officers Rank Insignia
5. CA Corps
6. CA Secondary Badge

The key changes from SITREP 01 are in paras 2 and 4.

The Canadian Army HQ is doing everything to manage the changes from these MND announcements while minimizing the cost impact on Canadian Army operations. Our approach to implementation of the changes from the MND announcement will always feature, where feasible, introduction of the changes through normal maintenance (painting new signs only when needed) and restocking when current inventories are exhausted (badges, correspondence). The Canadian Army HQ is very serious about cost. This has already limited the degree of change the HQ is permitting. Soldiers are taxpayers, our mission and operations are our priority.

All Land Force Areas were renamed to Divisions effective 12 Jul 13. There was no change to 1 Cdn Div HQ. The Division long names follow this example: 4th Canadian Division and the short form is 4 Cdn Div. The French translations are still being confirmed.

Divisions will get division formation patches for wear on the left upper sleeve of the DEU. The colours above are NOT the exact pantones. (Webmaster's note - the original image is not available.) The current brigade formation patches will stay on the right upper sleeve. Canadian Army HQ has met with DHH/DSSPM to initiate the procurement of the patches. No work is required at the L2 level until the patches are produced. 

1st Canadian Division BadgeLFAs did not qualify for a Flag. The new Divisions do qualify for a Camp Flag to indicate the location of the HQ. 

The traditional 2 Div C flag is found below (Webmaster's note - image at right comes from the website of the current 1st Canadian Division). All Divisions camp flags will mirror this historic flag pattern of our (Second World War) Divisions based on the patch colour background and a stylized maple leaf in gold. According to CFP 200 Ch 4 Sect 6 para 17, Divisions must pay for these flags non-publicly like regiments currently do. The Canadian Army HQ is requesting these flags be publicly funded. MTF. No action required at Div level for now as Canadian Army HQ will push your flags to you after the current design consultation with DHH. It is recommended that there be no changes to the LFA badges at this time. Divisions may have mottos and marches. This is being discussed with the Division G1 reps under separate correspondence.


The changes to NCM rank names will not be official until the QR&O 3.01 is amended. Since 1968, we have been informally referring to Ptes, for example, in the RCAC as Troopers but it was not official. Our NCMs lost their historic rank names in 1968. The MND has announced that the GoC will restore the NCM names along with the officers rank badges. The Corps were consulted and all approved the renaming, the RCIC added more. The Canadian Army will staff a change to QR&O 3.01 in order to make it official. After the QR&O is changed, there still may be some hiccups with CFTPO and maybe HRMS but we are already working this. The end-state is:

(English / French)

RCAC/CBRC. Trooper/Cavalier will be restored for the trained Private/Soldat.
RCA/ARC. Gunner/Artilleur for the trained Private/Soldat.
RCA/ARC. Bombardier for Corporal/Caporal.
RCE/GRC. Sapper/Sapeur for the trained Private/Soldat.
RCCS/CTRC. Signalman/Signaleur for the trained Private/Soldat will be superceded by the introduction of the alternate designation Signaller/Signaleur in Ch 11 of CFP 200.

 RCIC/CIRC. Guardsman/Garde for the trained Private/Soldat in the Regiments of Guards.
RCIC/CIRC. Rifleman/Carabinier for the trained Private/Soldat in regiments with historical connection to rifle regiments.
RCIC/CIRC. Fusilier for the trained Private/Soldat in regiments with historical connection to regiments of fusiliers.
RCEME/GEMRC. Craftsman/Sp├ęcialiste for the trained Private/Soldat will be superceded by the introduction of the alternate designation Craftsman/Artisan in Ch 11 of CFP 200.

These changes are being made to honour our soldiers and the history of the (Canadian Army). There are also some alternate designations and forms of address that will be formalized by adding them to a new Ch 11 of CFP 200.

RCA/ARC. Master-Bombardier/Bombardier-chef can be used officially in the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery as an alternate designation/form of address for the Master-Corporal/Caporal-chef appointment.

RCIC/CIRC. The alternate designation/form of address 'Colour Sergeant/Sergent Fourrier' for Warrant Officers can be used in the Regiments of Guards.

RCIC/CIRC. The alternate form of address 'Ensign/Enseigne' for Second Lieutenants can be used in the Regiments of Guards.

RCEME/GEMRC. The use of 'Artisan' can be used for the French form of address for Sp├ęcialiste (Craftsman).

For years these rank names have been used informally. They are simply being re-made formal.


The Canadian Army was not apprised of this announcement until days before the MND made it. It was announced less than 2 weeks ago so we can only offer preliminary information. It is not generally understood how our Army came to wear the current Navy rank. This SITREP will hopefully allow you to dispel wrong information.

Key Talking Points

a. Stars and Crowns (are) not British. The officers of almost 100% of the armies on every continent of the world including China, Russia, Finland, Colombia, and including the Salvation Army and RCMP wear a system of two identifiers: (i) a star, and (ii) a national symbolit is an international convention and customary practice so an officer from any country can negotiate on the battlefield or work in coalitions like the UN or NATO and with civilian agencies. Canada's Army used this international customary practice from 1885, officially recognized it in 1903, but lost it in 1968.

b. The Canadian Army lost stars and crowns as rank insignia in 1968 when the Canadian Army and RCAF plus the RCN were directed to put-up Merchant Navy rank. The RCN successfully got their 'fighting-Navy' executive curl back for their 100th anniversary. Now, the Canadian Army will return to Army vice Navy rank in time for the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of (the Second World War).

c. Cheaper. It costs $33.00 to tailor an officers DEU sleeve rank every time they get a new jacket or are promoted. It costs $5-6.00s for a pair of crowns or stars. The Canadian Army will save 80% of the costs and pay-off the initial project in just over 4 years. Stars and crowns (are) going to save money for the Canadian Army not cost money.

This is what we can share now and will continue to share more in next Friday's SITREP. 

Date of Implementation. Stars and Crowns cannot be implemented until a meeting off the National Defence Clothing and Dress Committee endorses the design for wear on DEU uniform. The Canadian Army will likely announce two dates: (i) the date that crowns and stars are available from each officer's Logistik Unicorp account, and (ii) the date they need to be put-up. 

The full implementation may take considerable time to fully introduce because we were unaware of the change and there is no current stock of crowns or stars in the supply system. 

The Canadian Army will introduce the traditional rank system of (the Second World War) as found in Figure 14 of the 1953 Canadian Army Dress Regulations. We have already met with DHH and DSSPM for purchase discussions. 

DEU. The Canadian Army will buy and issue one pattern of star and crown at public expense based on one national Canadian Army/Directorate of History and Heritage approved pattern. The crowns and stars will be push pin like the NCM rank badges so the uniform is not damaged. 

Rifle and Guards Regiments. The Canadian Army will respect the traditional prerogative of rifle regiments and Regiments of Guards to purchase their alternate colours and patterns of stars and crowns respectively on DEU, patrol, ceremonial, and mess dress. For DEU, the Canadian Army HQ has requested public funding but the outcome is not known. For DEU, rifle regiments must still apply to the chain of command and submit their alternative designs for approval by the CCA and DHH. Rifle regiments may contact the G1 Heritage Pat Bryden at 613 415 7707 for additional guidance. 

CADPAT. There is a new high visibility CADPAT rank slip on/velcro project running as we speak. The project will change all CADPAT rank to higher visibility thread. This project will introduce stars and crowns for officers prior to mass production. Thanks to this project, there will be no new cost to put crowns and stars onto CADPAT slip-ons. 

DEU Slip-ons. The Canadian Army with DHH will also approve patterns for the officers' slip-on for the Canadian Army. Decisions are now being made on the extent of patterns and the extent of public funding support. Vendors are already offering rank badges and insignia to units. Some units might lean forward and we suggest Divisions advise units to not proceed until key decisions are made on (a) permissible public and non-public purchasing, (b) the extent to which units will be permitted to deviate from the (Canadian Army) patterns, and (c) the Canadian Army date to implement new DEU rank is announced in a CANARMYGEN. All regiments can trust that our Canadian Army HQ is working in the interest of regimental identity and speed to meet the MND intent. 

Mess Dress. It is recognized that a substantial number of our Canadian Army units still informally use stars and crowns on their mess dress. The current Canadian Army recommendation will be that officers with Navy bars on their mess dress will only be required to put-up stars and crowns voluntarily (grandfathered) but it will be mandatory if/when the officer is promoted. This will be further developed.

On 19 Apr 13, the MND restored the names of:

(English / French)
RCAC / CBRC - Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
RCE / GRC  - Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers
RCCS / CTRC - Royal Canadian Corps of Signals
RCIC / CIRC - Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
RCEME / GEMRC - Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

The RCA / ARC was already Royal and not affected.
For the Canadian Army, this changed the names of some (not all) Branches are now referred to as Corps. Branches with RCN and RCAF personnel in them like the Logistics Branch are still proudly called Branches.
Canadian Army HQ has already coordinated with Corps Directors and we have met with DHH//DSSPM to order new metal shoulder titles and cloth CADPAT flashes. These will be both ENG or FRE. When they are produced (NMB 3-4 months), our plan is to push the new metal shoulder titles to soldiers through their indiv Logistik Unicorp account.


The MND has approved the Canadian Army to use a version of our proudly worn circa 1940-60s Canadian Army badge as our secondary badge. It is being called the heraldic term the 'Canadian Army historic device'. This change is important as we are about to enter a significant period of commemoration from 2014-20. Our veterans are very pleased. (Webmaster's note: at right, the identifier as it appeared on the cover of the Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War.)

Canadian Army Flag. A new Canadian Army Camp Flag has already been requested for procurement by DHH for delivery this FY.

Canadian Army Pocket Badge on DEU. Canadian Army HQ has already met with DHH and DSSPM to initiate procurement of a new pocket badge for DEU that will be delivered in at the beginning of the next FY 14-15.

Star of the Order of the Bath

Insignia of the Order of the Bath; the Latin inscription "Tria Juncta in Uno" translates as "three join to become one" - a reference thought to refer either to the Union of England, Scotland and France, the Union of England, Scotland and Ireland, or, possibly, to the Holy Trinity. The second inscription, "ich dien", translates as "I Serve". (Webmaster's note: at right, a rendering of the Star of the Order of the Bath.)

The Canadian Army is adopting the Order of the Bath for the star component of the rank insignia for Officers. As you can see the star has a top and bottom, and there are specific inscriptions including "I Serve".

Pre-integration(and we assume that will happen with the new badges), cloth versions of the star could not be produced with enough detail to show the finer points of the design the crowns were often just shown as 3 blobs so it was hard to see which way was up. If any of you have any of the old red battle dress stars at home you will note that they were very simplified and the centres were just round white spots so there was no up side.


  1. This is all good news. Some will not think so just like some were vigorously opposed to the RCN adopting the "curl" for officers' insignia. Now no one can remember what the fuss was about. The vast majority are grateful someone had the courage to do this -- just like someone has had the courage to take the Army out of its merchant marine rank insignia.

  2. The hostile reaction to the insignia as "British" seems striking to me. Canadians wore the insignia proudly in a number of conflicts and trouble-spots over the course of several decades. Police, EMS and other organizations like St. John Ambulance across Canada wear variations on these insignia, and have done for decades as well, dating back to the 1800s. We have few visible tangible links to the victorious armies of 1945 or 1918 left to us, it is nice to see at least one or two tiny reminders left that go beyond regimental trappings and encompass the Army as a national institution with a history that pre-dates 1968.

  3. I think we are again reverting to "colonial" status and not maturing to a Canadian rank symbol. I have no problem with a star and crown type system. But could we not incorporate a "Canadian" symbol? At least get a maple leaf in there or a moose or Mountie. We just can't seem to grow up as a country and want to always revert to our British masters.

  4. The Navy, Air Force or Army and individual regimental units have to request changes to titles or badges. There is a Canadian Forces uniform committee that provides advice and guidance for changes. Maple Leaf, beavers, other animals or birds and geographical names are very well represented on uniforms, buttons, badges, cap badges, regimental flags and colours. FYI - RCMP symbols are copyrighted and cannot be used.

  5. Stars and crowns are worn by most armies in the Commonwealth. The RCMP have always used 'Army' insignia (it was started from army units) including stars and crowns.

  6. The use of common rank badges throughout the Commonwealth will make Canadian rank recognizable not only among Commonwealth militaries but throughout the world. There was confusion with the three maple-leaf pips of a Canadian lieutenant general since it would inevitably be confused with a Commonwealth brigadier. The US army rank badges are different from those of other countries. We should stick with the Commonwealth system and leave it at that.