Rank & Appointment Insignia

Chris Brooker's CEF Guide

Cap Badges


Corps & Services 1939-1945

Mounted Units 1939-1945

Collar Badges


 Metal Shoulder Titles

 Slip-On Shoulder Titles 

Buttons 1939-1945

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

Canadian Military HQ

1st Canadian Corps

2nd Canadian Corps

Atlantic Command

Pacific Command

1st Canadian Division

2nd Canadian Division

3rd Canadian Division

4th Canadian Division

5th Canadian Division

6th Canadian Division

7th Canadian Division

8th Canadian Division

1st Armoured Brigade

2nd Armoured Brigade

3rd Armoured Brigade

Misc. & Foreign 1939-45  
Postwar .


Miscellaneous Insignia

Active Service Badges

Good Conduct Chevrons

Instructors Badges

Tank Badges
NCO Corps Badges
Service Chevrons
Wound Stripes
National Insignia

Special Distinctions


National Insignia

Starting out as an adjunct of British forces in South Africa, Canadian troops have worn distinguishing badges identifying their nationality throughout the Century; even despite the issue of specifically "Canadian" uniforms throughout the century.

National insignia was often used throughout the latter half of the century to differentiate between troops actually serving on operations, and troops stationed at home, from the selective use of the CANADA title at the start of World War Two, to the continuing practice into the 21st Century of red and white flags being worn exclusively by those whose duties involved serving operationally outside Canada.

South Africa

Canadian troops in South Africa at the turn of the 20th Century identified themselves with a maple leaf badge on their headdress.

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Contemporary colour photo (scan courtesy of Ed Storey) of a Second World War officer undergoing Battle Drill Training.  The "worsted" Canada title, in buff thread on khaki drab cloth, is clearly visible stitched underneath the shoulder seam.

First World War

Canadian troops of the CEF wore several styles of metal shoulder title; the most common was a curved solid bar with CANADA embossed on it; these badges were originally provided in "red metal" - an alloy with a distinctly pinkish hue approximately the colour of a new Canadian penny.  Later issues were in brass and other metals.  These titles were worn on both shoulder straps of the Service Dress Jacket. cantitl.jpg (40205 bytes)
Other examples of CANADA titles were also worn; another common variant was the word CANADA curved downward, with a bar on top and bottom.

Certain units wore corps titles, such as the Canadian Field Artillery (CFA) and did not thus wear CANADA badges. 

Many CEF infantry battalions had unit-specific titles made, many of which incorporated the word CANADA.  These are illustrated elsewhere on this site.


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Second World War

The Second World War saw an increase in the number of uniforms a soldier was likely to be issued with and expected to wear.  At the outbreak of war, unit specific metal shoulder titles were worn on Service Dress by most corps and services.  With the introduction of Battle Dress, unit-specific insignia was officially not retained, though many units did wear their metal unit titles.   Worsted (slip on) regimental titles were eventually issued, some of which had the word CANADA embroidered on them.

A special worsted CANADA badge was also introduced.  In September 1939, it was ordered that only troops of the First Canadian Division were to wear them.  They were to be sewn 1-1/2 inches from the shoulder seam, and only members of the Canadian Active Service Force (CASF) were to wear them.   Troops returning from overseas were permitted to retain them, but no other troops in Canada were permitted to have them on their uniforms.

There were many variations on these badges, especially once they began to be produced in England in addition to Canadian sources.  In general, they were produced on khaki cloth (and later, printed on canvas) in buff or white thread, on either a rectangular, or upwards curving background.

In January 1940, the badges were ordered worn on greatcoats in addition to Battle Dress.

In late 1941, all personnel enlisting for General Service were permitted to wear these CANADA badges, no matter where they were serving, to distinguish them from conscripts.  Service Dress and Khaki Drill Jackets came to have these badges also, with versions in buff thread on khaki drill cloth being produced.

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In late 1942, authority to wear the worsted "CANADA" badge was granted to all ranks of both the Active Army and the Reserve Army in Canada and abroad.

Those units wearing embroidered regimental or corps titles whose name included "CANADA" or "CANADIAN" in the title were not required to wear CANADA badges in addition.
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A selection of CANADA badges; clockwise from top right are a British-manufactured CANADA title (note the white thread and the wide weave of the embroidery); Canadian produced CANADA title in buff; printed canvas CANADA title; and two other samples of buff-on-khaki CANADA titles showing variations in backing size/shape.

At the start of the War, Officers wore the worsted "CANADA" badge also, but were permitted to wear metal CANADA titles (or unit titles) on greatcoats.  In early 1940, metal shoulder titles were banned from greatcoats.

In late 1941, orders were promulgated stating that on SD and KD Jackets, a brass "CANADA" title in 3/8 inch letters, barred top and bottom and having an extreme width of 1 1/2 inches, was to be worn by Officers instead of unit titles at the base of each shoulder strap. Officers of Rifle Regiments were officially permitted to blacken these badges.  Warrant Officers I Class (who were generally bound by officer's dress regulations) wore worsted CANADA badges on BD, SD and KD, as well as the greatcoat.

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Embroidered CANADA badges were also introduced for wear on SD Jacket shoulder straps, being gold wire embroidery on a drab background, with Rifle Regiment officers permitted to wear a similar CANADA badge in silver embroidery on a black background.  Many variations of these badges existed, and were sometimes worn on the sleeve instead (and in Guards regiments, this method of wear was regulation, due to the large size of rank insignia they were on the shoulder strap).

Some officers continued to wear unit or corps insignia rather than the CANADA titles on Service Dress and Khaki Drill in defiance of these orders.  The 1st Battalion of the Canadian Scottish Regiment made a point of retaining their prized Oak Leaf shoulder titles in lieu of the CANADA badge.

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Canadian Forces Combat Dress

On the Canadian Forces Combat Uniform issued from the 1960s, nationality was indicated in two manners; the first was a CANADA title, either worn on slip ons on shoulder straps, or else sewn to the top of both sleeves.

Soldiers serving operationally wore a red and white Canadian flag, usually on the left sleeve, though also commonly seen on brassards.

In the 1990s, a subdued version of the Canadian flag was introduced for wear on the Combat Uniform.  Under a blue flashlight beam, the green flag appeared red and white. 

These flags were worn on the left upper sleeve of combat shirts, jackets and the parka.  The CANADA title ceased to be worn on sleeves, but continued to be worn on slip-ons in lieu of unit or branch titles, (for example, by troops in training not yet assigned to a unit or branch.)

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Canadian Forces Uniform

The CF Uniform introduced upon Unification lacked shoulder straps, and national identification on the jacket was made by a narrow title on both sleeves in yellow embroidery on a CF green wool background.

In shirt sleeve order, these wool titles were sewn to CF green slip-ons; some slip-ons also had the CANADA embroidered directly onto them.

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Canadian Forces Work Dress

National identification on the work dress jacket, or lagoon green and linden green shirts in summer dress, was done by means of the wool title described above, sewn to a slip on.   Some slips ons had the CANADA embroidered directly onto them, in subdued yellow.   A version of the slip on with embroidered rank insignia for non-commissioned members was also issued.

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Canadian Forces Distinctive Environmental Uniform (DEU)

On both the green and the short-lived tan DEU Jacket, a yellow embroidered CANADA badge on a CF green wool backing was worn on both sleeves, just below the shoulder seam.  It does not appear that metal CANADA titles were worn; either unit or branch titles were worn on the shoulder straps.

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Canadian Forces Garrison Dress

On the short-lived Garrison Dress, curved CANADA titles similar to those worn on the new DEU uniform were worn on the GD Jacket.  Many units and branches adopted distinctive shoulder flashes, however, and did not wear this CANADA badge.  The badge was in the same subdued yellow thread as the rank and trade badges, with an embroidered border, and was worn an inch down from the shoulder seam.

CANADA slip ons were also worn on the shoulder straps of the Garrison Dress Jacket, or on the tan shirt when in short sleeve order.

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CF and Garrison Dress CANADA titles.
Courtesy Kevin S. Winfield

(click to enlarge)

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