Insignia

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1920-1952

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Formation Patches
C.E.F. Troops  
1st Canadian Army

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►4th Canadian Division

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Misc. & Foreign 1939-45  
Postwar .

Nationality

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Special Distinctions

 

1divmini.gif (1095 bytes)1st Canadian Division Formation Insignia

"The Old Red Patch" was originally adopted in the summer of 1916 in time for Canadian participation in the Battle of the Somme. The patches were created as an aid to command and control of fighting troops in the battle line and extended later to other elements of the division. Originally placed on the back of tunics, just below the collar, the patches were quickly moved to uniform sleeves. The division was represented by a red rectangle 3 inches wide by 2 inches tall, while individual units were further designated by coloured geometric shapes worn in conjunction with the divisional patch.1

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Artifacts and image courtesy of Bill Alexander.
Click to enlarge.

Second World War

The 1st Canadian Division in the Second World War readopted the divisional battle patch that had been worn in the First World War.2

Shoulder patches were made from three materials mainly (canvas, felt and wool) and were first issued in 1941.

Officers at Brigade Headquarters of the Third Division wore coloured strips half an inch wide by three inches long above the Division patch. The 1st Brigade was designated by green, the 2nd by red and the 3rd by blue. This system of designating Brigade staff officers was also a readoption of Great War practice.

Supporting arms were also differentiated by the use of initials on the division patch; towards the middle of the war, these patches began to be phased out in favour of plain divisional patches worn in conjunction with embroidered (or printed) shoulder titles worn on the upper sleeves of the battle dress.3


Brigadier J.A. Roberts of the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade and Major-General Harry W. Foster, General Officer Commanding 1st Canadian Infantry Division, examining a small German submarine, IJmuiden, Netherlands, 25 May 1945. Major-General Roberts wears the red 1st Division formation patch in the prescribed location. LAC photo.

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For further information, see the book DISTINGUISHING PATCHES by Clive M. Law, published by Service Publications.

Artifacts and photos courtesy of Bill Alexander.
Click to enlarge.

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Gold wire officers RCOC version, courtesy Dwayne Hordij.

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Post War

A 1st Canadian Division Headquarters (later renamed 1st Division) was also authorized in April 1946, but remained dormant until formally disbanded in July 1954.  Simultaneously, however, another "Headquarters, First Canadian Infantry Division" was authorized as part of the Canadian Army Active Force, in October 1953.  This, the first peace-time Division in Canadian history, consisted of a brigade in Germany, one in Edmonton and one at Valcartier.  This formation was disbanded in April 1958.  During its short existence, it wore the same badge - the Old Red Patch - that the First Division had worn between 1916 and 1918, and again from 1941-1945.  This was a piece of red melton, 3 inches wide by 2 inches tall, worn on each sleeve.

1div.jpg (75434 bytes)
Artifact and image courtesy Bill Alexander

The 1st Canadian Division was reactivated in 1988, and once again, The Old Red Patch was worn with pride.4  On the Garrison Dress Jacket the patch was now rendered in modern materials with swiss embroidered embroidered edges.  The colour was not subdued for wear on Garrison Dress as other insignia was.  On the DEU Jacket, a melton patch - similar to that shown above - was worn.  The patch was only worn on the left sleeve, and the applicable brigade patch on the right sleeve.

1div2.jpg (75434 bytes)
Artifact and image courtesy Bill Alexander

Notes

  1. Law, Clive M. Distinguishing Patches: Formation Patches of the Canadian Army (2nd Ed.) Service Publications, Ottawa, ON, 2008 ISBN 978-1-894581-50-9

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

  3. Law, Ibid, pp.25-45

  4. The Old Red Patch: The 1st Canadian Division 1915-1988 Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1988


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