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3rd Canadian Infantry Division

3rd Canadian Infantry Division
Authorized: 24 May 1940 (General Order 184/40)
Disbanded: 23 November 1945 (General Order 52/46)

The 3rd Canadian Division refers to two organizations raised during the 20th Century.

  • 3rd Canadian Division

  • 3rd Canadian Infantry Division (1939-1945)

The first formation so designated was a fully manned and equipped combat division which went to France with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. A second iteration was raised for the Second World War; this article refers to the latter division.


The formation of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division was authorized by General Order 184/40 on 24 May 1940, in the wake of the German invasion of France and the Low Countries.1 There was then a considerable delay until the brigade and divisional headquarters were formed on 5 September, and the first divisional commander was appointed on 26 October.

Headquarters mobilized as Serial 700 of the Canadian Active Service Force. The divisional artillery mobilized as the 12th, 13th and 14th Field Regiments, initially with two combined field-batteries per regiment.2

Serial No. Unit
700 Headquarters, 3rd Division, C.A.S.F.
704 Headquarters, 3rd Divisional Artillery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
705 ►12th Field Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
705A ►►Headquarters, 12th Field Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
705B ►►16th/43rd Field Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
705C ►►11th/69th Field Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
706 ►13th Field Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
706A ►►Headquarters, 13th Field Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
706B ►►44th/62nd Field Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
706C ►►22nd/78th Field Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
707 ►14th Field Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
707A ►►Headquarters, 14th Field Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
707B ►►32nd/34th Field Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
707C ►►66th/81st Field Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
708 ►3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
708A ►►Headquarters, 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
708B ►►4th Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
708C ►►94th Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
708D ►►52nd Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
708E ►►105th Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
128 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F. (on conversion from 4th Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.)
141 ►Headquarters, 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.
141A 5th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A., C.A.S.F.

Each infantry brigade initially had an anti-tank company assigned to it. The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (MG) and Le Régiment de la Chaudière, two machine gun battalions originally mobilized for the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, were reassigned to the 3rd, and the initial brigade organization of the division was changed when The Royal Winnipeg Rifles moved to the division from its intended formation, the 4th Canadian Infantry Division.3

Serial No. Unit
730 Headquarters, 7th Infantry Brigade, C.A.S.F.
731 ►7th Infantry Anti-Tank Company, C.A.S.F.
732 ►The North Nova Scotia Highlanders, C.A.S.F.
733 ►The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.), C.A.S.F. (change of Serial No. only; formerly Serial 184)
734 ►1st Bn, The Canadian Scottish Regiment, C.A.S.F.
740 Headquarters, 8th Infantry Brigade, C.A.S.F.
741 ►8th Infantry Anti-Tank Company, C.A.S.F.
742 ►The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment, C.A.S.F.
743 ►Le Regiment de la Chaudiere, C.A.S.F. (change of Name and Serial No. only; formerly Serial 189 - Le Régiment de la Chaudière (Mit), (C.A.S.F.)
744 ►The Regina Rifle Regiment, C.A.S.F.
750 Headquarters, 9th Infantry Brigade, C.A.S.F.
751 ►9th Infantry Anti-Tank Company, C.A.S.F.
752 ►The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, C.A.S.F.
753 ►The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, C.A.S.F.
754 ►The Highland Light Infantry of Canada, C.A.S.F.

A full slate of divisional support units also mobilized in accordance with G.O. 184/404:

Serial No. Unit
207A No. 3 Salvage Unit, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
235A No. 2 Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination Unit, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
235B No. 3 Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination Unit, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
236D No. 4 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
236E No. 5 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
236F No. 6 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
236G No. 7 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
236H No. 8 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
236J No. 9 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
237 No. 5 Mobile Bath Unit, C.A.S.F.
290B No. 1 Non-Effective Transit Depot, C.A.S.F.
500 No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station, R.C.A.M.C., C.A.S.F.
600 No. 3 Wireless Section (Corps Signals), R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
601 No. 2 D.R. Section (Corps Signals), R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
602 No. 4 Line Section (Corps Signals), R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
603 No. 3 Corps Field Cash Office, C.A.S.F.
604 No. 2 Section, G.H.Q. Company, R.C.A.S.C., C.A.S.F.
605 No. 6 Employment Platoon, C.A.S.F.
606 Administrative Section, Headquarters Company (Corps Signals), R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
607 Corps Section-Intelligence Corps, C.A.S.F.
609 No. 2 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Workshop, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
650 No. 25 Light Aid Detachment, R.C.O.C., C.A.S.F.
714 Headquarters, 3rd Divisional Engineers, R.C.E., C.A.S.F.
715 ►3rd Field Park Company, R.C.E., C.A.S.F.
716 ►6th Field Company, R.C.E., C.A.S.F.
717 ►18th Field Company, R.C.E., C.A.S.F.
718 ►16th Field Company, R.C.E., C.A.S.F.
719 ►3rd Pioneer Battalion, R.C.E., C.A.S.F.
720 ►No. 3 Road Construction Company, R.C.E., C.A.S.F.
726 3rd Divisional Signals, R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
726A ►Headquarters, 3rd Divisional Signals, R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
726B ►►Headquarters, No. 1 Company, 3rd Divisional Signals, R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
726C ►►"A" (Wireless) Section
726D ►►"B" (Cable) Section
726E ►►"D" (Operating) Section
726F ►►"M" (Technical Maintenance) Section
726G ►Headquarters, No. 2 Company, 3rd Divisional Signals, R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
726H ►►"E" (Field Regiment, R.C.A.) Section
726J ►►"F" (Field Regiment, R.C.A.) Section
726K ►►"G" (Field Regiment, R.C.A.) Section
726L ►►"H" (Anti-Tank Regiment, R.C.A.) Section
726M ►Headquarters, No. 3 Company, 3rd Divisional Signals, R.C. Signals, C.A.S.F.
726N ►►"J" (Infantry Brigade) Section
726P ►►"K" (Infantry Brigade) Section
726Q ►►"L" (Infantry Brigade) Section
760 Headquarters, 3rd Divisional R.C.A.S.C., C.A.S.F.
761 ►3rd Divisional Ammunition Company, R.C.A.S.C., C.A.S.F.
762 ►3rd Divisional Petrol Company, R.C.A.S.C., C.A.S.F.
763 ►3rd Divisional Supply Column, R.C.A.S.C., C.A.S.F.
766 No. 22/21 Field Ambulance, R.C.A.M.C., C.A.S.F.
767 No. 13 Field Ambulance, R.C.A.M.C., C.A.S.F.
768 No. 23 Field Ambulance, R.C.A.M.C., C.A.S.F.
769 No. 7 Field Hygiene Section, R.C.A.M.C., C.A.S.F.
772 3rd Divisional Dental Company, C.D.C., C.A.S.F.
773 No. 4 Provost Company, C.A.S.F.
774 No. 11 Postal Unit, C.P.C., C.A.S.F.
775 No. 4 Employment Platoon, C.A.S.F.
776 No. 3 Mobile Bath Unit, C.A.S.F.

The infantry battalions of the division spent the autumn in various garrison duties and eventually concentrated with their brigades.

7th Canadian Infantry Brigade

The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

Concentrated at Debert, Nova Scotia on 28 October 1940, arriving from Camp Shilo, Manitoba.
The Regina Rifle Regiment Concentrated at Debert, Nova Scotia at end of September 1940, arriving from Dundurn, Saskatchewan.
1st Bn, The Canadian Scottish Regiment Concentrated at Debert on 9 October 1940, arriving from Macaulay Camp, Victoria-Esquimalt, BC.
8th Canadian Infantry Brigade
The Queen's Own Rifles Of Canada

Travelled to Botwood, Newfoundland on the Duchess of Richmond for garrison duty, relieving the 2nd Division's Black Watch there in August 1940, with garrisons at Botwood, Gander Airport and Lewisporte. They were relieved by The Royal Rifles of Canada in early December 1940 and moved to Camp Sussex, New Brunswick.

Le Régiment de la Chaudière Concentrated at Camp Sussex, New Brunswick late in September, 1940.
The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment Concentrated at Camp Sussex, New Brunswick on 5 December 1940.
9th Canadian Infantry Brigade
The Highland Light Infantry of Canada Completed garrison duty in Quebec City in early March 1941 and concentrated at Debert, Nova Scotia.
The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders Left Ottawa for concentration at Debert, Nova Scotia on 29 January 1941.
The North Nova Scotia Highlanders Concentrated at Debert, Nova Scotia.

While the division’s components were forming, The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa were detached and transferred to Iceland as part of "Z" Force. The battalion spent the winter of 1940–41 there before moving to the United Kingdom and joining the division as its machine gun battalion. The division's 8th and 9th Canadian Infantry Brigades began embarking as early as 1 July 1941 and arrived in the UK at the end of that month. The 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade embarked in August and arrived at the beginning of September. After its arrival, the division spent three uneventful years, initially training in anti-invasion measures as the threat of German invasion was still considered real. The division headquartered initially at Aldershot, Hampshire in the south of England. General Order 284/43, taking effect from 7 January 1943, redesignated Headquarters 3rd Division as Headquarters 3rd Infantry Division.5

On 3 July 1943, the commander of 1st Canadian Army informed General H.D.G. Crerar, commanding 1st Canadian Corps, that the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division under Major General Rod Keller had been selected for assault training with the objective of taking part in the Operation OVERLORD landings.6 The selection was probably an easy one; the 1st Division went to the Mediterranean for the assault on Sicily on 10 July 1943 and the 2nd had been nearly destroyed at Dieppe in August 1942, and required a major rebuilding regime.

The division was placed under the command of 1st British Corps in January 1944 (1st Canadian Army was not scheduled to activate in Normandy until after the beachhead was secure and expanded). A four-phase training plan was conducted to prepare the division for the assault.

  • Phase 1 was preliminary training, with a study of the principles of combined operations and rehearsals of embarkation and disembarkation, scaling obstacles, minefield clearance, etc. These activities were conducted in late July and early August 1943. Boat drills were practiced on mock-ups at unit stations in southern England and the division and brigade staffs participated in Exercise DIPPER, a preliminary planning scheme. Heavy fire support during the landing was the emphasis of planning conferences.

  • In August and September 1943, Phase 2 was carried out by brigade groups at the Combined Training Centres in Inverary and Castle Toward in Scotland, where they were instructed in the basic mechanics of assault landings. They had practical work in using landing craft to come ashore, with live artillery fir and smoke-laying aircraft, and training progressed from from company-size schemes in dummy landing craft up to full-scale brigade exercises with artillery, engineer and all-arms support.

  • Phase 3 was conducted in Portsmouth in conjunction with Force "J", the naval assault force which was to convey the division to Normandy (so named because the division's landing area was code-named JUNO). Force "J" had been the naval force assembled for the Dieppe operation, and had been kept as a "laboratory in combined operations", even early on retaining the same commander, Commodore J. Hughes-Hallett, who had commanded the fleet at Dieppe. He departed late in 1943. The 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade moved to Portsmouth early in September for this phase, for increasingly realistic exercises with the actual naval force assigned them. The 3rd Canadian Division's headquarters relocated to Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst, in the new Forest (Hampshire). Exercise PIRATE was held 16-19 October 1943 in Studland Bay, Dorset, with an assault by the 7th Brigade and build-up ashore by the remainder of the division. Poor weather caused a cancellation of latter phases of the exercise, including Turn Round Control and the Build-Up portion. RAF bomber support was called off and divisional artillery firing from off-shore fell short by several hundred yards during the opening stages of the assault. The division was using the towed 25-pounders standard to infantry divisions.

  • Phase 4 was marked by collective divisional assault training with concurrent brigade group level exercises. This phase began around 30 January 1944 when the division began detailed planning and the division's planning staff decamped for London for nearly a month. These exercises were rehearsals carried out using the actual plans for the landing; one note-worthy exercise was Exercise TROUSERS at Slapton Sands, Devon, on 12 April 1944 where Force "J" rehearsed the passage, approach and assault landing in detail while the Division practice signal communications and fire support. A single exercise was held as a complete dress rehearsal of the invasion as a whole, this being Exercise FABIUS early in May 1944. FABIUS was conducted in six parts: FABIUS I rehearsed the American Force "O" for the landing on OMAHA Beach; FABIUS II was Force "G" for GOLD; FABIUS III Force "J" for JUNO; FABIUS IV Force "S" for SWORD; FABIUS V and FABIUS VI were to exercise machinery for loading personnel and equipment in the Thames Estuary and East Coast ports and to prepare the invasion build-up in the Southampton-Portsmouth area. Force "U", the assault force for UTAH Beach, had a separate final rehearsal in April 1944 dubbed Exercise TIGER. FABIUS II, III and IV took part east of Portsmouth at Hayling Island, Bracklesham Bay and Littlehampton respectively, and because Bracklesham Bay was inhabited, there was no actual firing.7

Blamer Hotel during the First World War, when it was used as a hospital for New Zealand troops. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Division used it as a headquarters from September 1943 to April 1944, when it moved to Otterbourne, near Winchester.
National Library of Australia photo vn3357947

Inspection tours were part of the activities before D-Day. General Eisenhower visited the division in February and again in May. A biography of Brigadier Harry Foster caught the mood and reaction of many in the Division:

As D-Day approached, a series of Canadian and British VIPs made the rounds of 3rd Division. Harry observed, "Most are a pain in the ass but it is an honour to greet some."

"25 April....His Majesty arrived today with Gen. Crerar on an inspection tour. The troops were lined up three deep on both sides of the road for over a mile. They put on a good showing. I heard later that HM and the brass were mightily pleased. He is such a charming and courteous man...

18 May.... The PM [Mackenzie King] arrived today in a banker's suit to shake hands with a few of the men. He tried very hard to be pleasant but wound up instead being political. It is hard to imagine him leading anybody anywhere. Even more strange that anyone would want to follow....After everybody left I reprimanded two officers for giving him a horse laugh during his talk....He may not look or sound like much but he is our Prime Minister and I will not tolerate disrespect.8

HM King George VI inspects The Highland Light Infantry of Canada before D-Day with Lieutenant Colonel F.M. Griffiths, their Commanding Officer. LAC photo

The 3rd Division landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 as part of the 1st Corps of the British 2nd Army. It fought in the bitter beachhead battles and the fighting around Caen for four weeks, clearing several villages such as Authie, Buron, Cussy and the Abbaye d'Ardennes as well as the Carpiquet airfield during Operations WINDSOR and CHARNWOOD in early July. They were joined at that time by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division and transferred from 1st British Corps to the newly activated 2nd Canadian Corps. The division crossed the Orne River on 18 July, saw further action at Verrières Ridge, and on 31 July 1944 came under the command of 1st Canadian Army. On 1 August, which the beachhead considered secure, the divisional artillery exchanged self-propelled 105mm guns used for the invasion for the standard towed 25-pounder gun.

The division fought under 2nd Canadian Corps during the fight to close the Falaise Gap and the pursuit across northern France. The division was required to lay siege to Boulogne and Calais during September, both of which fell after divisional battles with heavy fire support, and with no time to rest, the formation was rushed to the Scheldt at the start of October as 21st Army Group gave priority to opening the approach to Antwerp.

During the Battle of the Scheldt, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, fighting to the south of the channel to clear the Breskens Pocket, were nicknamed the "Water Rats" by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in recognition of the poor conditions of terrain through which they fought.

After a month long fight to close the Breskens Pocket, the Division wintered in the Nijmegen Salient, as plans were made for the final invasion of Germany. The 3rd Canadian Division was one of the formations that led the way in Operation VERITABLE, the offensive to clear the last German hold-outs west of the Rhine, in preparation for the crossing of the last natural obstacle before Germany. The division fought through difficult and water covered terrain under command of British 30th Corps in the initial stages, passing to command of 2nd Canadian Corps. Sergeant Aubrey Cosens of The Queen's Own Rifles was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for actions on the Goch-Calar Road on 26 February 1945.

The 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade was first to cross over the Rhine river after Montgomery's spectacular set-piece crossing on 23 March 1945. All three Canadian divisions of 2nd Canadian Corps crossed in short order, and began advancing north towards the North Sea; the 3rd Canadian Division advanced through Zutphen, Deventer, Zwolle, Meppel, Steenwijk, and Leeuwarden, reaching the North Sea to the west of the 2nd Division, then advanced east to clear the coast. It fought additional actions near Delfzijl before relief by the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division, and the 3rd crossed the Ems and Leda Rivers, captured Leer, and advanced north again onto the Emden-Wilhelmshaven peninsula, ending the war on German soil near Emden.

The division remained in Germany until the end of May, then moved to Utrecht, Netherlands. By the end of the war, the division had become known as the "Water Rats", in reference to the amount of fighting it had done either in amphibious assaults or through flooded terrain.9

Headquarters received authority to disband by General Order 52/46, effective 23 November 1945, and the major units of the division received the same authority that time as well. By the end of the year, all units of the division had disbanded.

In the meantime, however, the division was duplicated in order to create an occupation force, and additional units bearing the same names and French-grey formation patches of the existing division were formed. Headquarters 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, Canadian Army Occupation Force was authorized under General Order 319/45 effective 1 June 1945.

Soldiers of the CAOF were distinguished from the original 3rd Division by the addition of a French grey stripe below the divisional flash, 1/2-inch tall and 3 inches wide, located 1/2-inch below the divisional flash. The CAOF concentrated at Amersfoort, Netherlands on 5 July 1945, moved to Germany to relieve the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in the area of Aurich and Oldenburg, and located its headquarters at Bad Zwischenahn.

The occupation force remained behind on German soil until relieved by the British 52nd (Lowland) Division on 15 May 1946, and units were "phased out" during March, April and May until the order to demobilize came. Authorization for units to disband came under General Order 162/46 and 201/46, and headquarters was disbanded by General Order 283/46, effective 20 June 1946.10

Order of Battle 1944-1945

Divisional Headquarters

  • The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.) (3rd Canadian Division Support Battalion)

  • 3reccegif.gif (979 bytes) 7th Reconnaissance Regiment (17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars)


7th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Royal Winnipeg Rifles

  • The Regina Rifle Regiment

  • 1st Battalion, The Canadian Scottish Regiment

  • 7th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)


8th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada

  • Le Régiment de la Chaudière

  • The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment

  • 8th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)


9th Canadian Infantry Brigade

  • The Highland Light Infantry of Canada

  • The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders

  • The North Nova Scotia Highlanders

  • 9th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)


Royal Canadian Artillery


Headquarters, 3rd Divisional Artillery, RCA

12th Field Regiment

  • 11th (Hamilton) Field Battery

  • 16th Field Battery

  • 43rd Field Battery

13th Field Regiment

  • 22nd Field Battery

  • 78th Field Battery

  • 44th Field Battery


14th Field Regiment

  • 34th Field Battery

  • 66th Field Battery

  • 81st Field Battery

3rd Anti-Tank Regiment

  • 4th Anti-Tank Battery

  • 52nd Anti-Tank Battery

  • 94th Anti-Tank Battery

  • 105th Anti-Tank Battery

4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

  • 32nd (Kingston) Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

  • 69th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

  • 100th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers

  • Headquarters RCE

    • 3rd Field Park Company, RCE

    • 6th Field Company, RCE

    • 16th Field Company, RCE

    • 18th Field Company, RCE

    • One bridge platoon


Royal Canadian Corps of Signals

3rd Infantry Divisional Signals, RCCS


Royal Canadian Army Service Corps

  • Headquarters RCASC

    • 7th Infantry Brigade Company, RCASC

    • 8th Infantry Brigade Company, RCASC

    • 9th Infantry Brigade Company, RCASC

    • 3rd Infantry Divisional Troops Company, RCASC


Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

  • No. 14 Field Ambulance, RCAMC

  • No. 22 Field Ambulance, RCAMC

  • No. 23 Field Ambulance, RCAMC

  • 3rd Division Field Hygiene Section, RCAMC

  • two Field Dressing Stations


Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps

  • No. 3 Infantry Division Ordnance Field Park, RCOC


Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

  • Headquarters RCEME

    • 7th Infantry Brigade Workshop, RCEME

    • 8th Infantry Brigade Workshop, RCEME

    • 9th Infantry Brigade Workshop, RCEME

    • One LAA workshop

    • Eleven light aid detachments.

Canadian Postal Corps

One divisional postal unit.

Canadian Provost Corps

  • One provost company.

Canadian Intelligence Corps

  • One field security section.

Order of Battle
3rd Canadian Division
Canadian Army Occupation Force

3rd Battalion, The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.)

2nd 7th Brigade
4th Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada
4th Battalion, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
4th Battalion, The Regina Rifle Regiment

2nd 8th Brigade
3rd Battalion, Le Régiment de la Chaudière
3rd Battalion, The North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment
4th Battalion, The Canadian Scottish Regiment

2nd 9th Brigade
3rd Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry of Canada
3rd Battalion, The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders
3rd Battalion, The North Nova Scotia Highlanders

Canadian Infantry Corps:
2nd 7th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)
2nd 8th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)
2nd 9th Infantry Brigade Ground Defence Platoon (Lorne Scots)

Canadian Armoured Corps:
2nd 7th Reconnaissance Regiment

Royal Canadian Artillery:
2nd 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment
2nd 12th Field Regiment
2nd 13th Field Regiment
2nd 14th Field Regiment
2nd 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

As well as units of the RCE, RCSigs, RCASC, RCAMC, CDC, RCOC, RCEME, CPC, and the Canadian Provost Corps.

General Officers Commanding

Name Dates in Command Bio and Destination on Leaving Appointment
Major General E.W. Sansom, DSO 26 Oct 1940 - 13 Mar 1941

Major General Ernest W. Sansom, DSO was born in 1890. Unable to afford to go to Royal Military College, he worked on farms and surveyed land in Western Canada. He joined the Militia upon his return to New Brunswick, and in 1914 was a lieutenant. He went overseas as a machine gun instructor, but did not get to France until August 1916. By war's end he was a lieutenant colonel who had won the Distinguished Service Order. Staying in the army, he was a colonel in 1939 and went overseas in December as the Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General (AA&QMG) of the 1st Division (in other words, the senior administrative officer of the division).

Colonel Ernest Sansom was a member of General McNaugton's staff. In March 1940, Sansom took over a brigade from Brigadier Pearkes, who became ill with meningitis. He was lucky to impress General Montgomery at a TEWT (Tactical Exercise Without Troops). He then commanded two battalions that embarked for Norway to attack Trondheim, an attack that was called off. Pearkes returned to the brigade in May, and Sansom resumed his duties at divisional headquarters. In July, he went to Canadian Military Headquarters in London as a brigadier, and then in October 1940 promoted Major General and given command of the 3rd Division. He left in March 1941 to command the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division.

Major General C.B. Price, DSO, DCM, VD 14 Mar 1941 - 7 Sep 1942

Major General C.B. Price, DSO, DCM, VD was a Militia officer; and went to England as a brigade commander. In October 1939, Lester Pearson was "delighted to hear that two of the three Brigadiers of the First Division are Militia; one a jam-maker and the other a milkman!"

Price had in fact headed a Montreal dairy before the war. British General Montgomery, who took to training the Canadians, was not fond of Price and in June of 1942 wrote to a Canadian officer "I hope to be sending Price back to you; he will be of great value in Canada where his knowledge of the milk industry will help on the national war effort." Later comments regarding Price included "I don't think it is possible to make very much of Price." And still later, "I do not think Price can last much longer; he is quite useless as a soldier." After Price left the army to take over the Canadian Red Cross in Britain, Montgomery crowed "I have at last got rid of Basil Price; it has taken 6 mths. He is a very decent chap, but no soldier."

During this period, when General Price was on exercise (one designed to test his command capacities), he was informed that his son, serving with the RCAF, had been killed. He carried on, though "scant mercy was shown him:" and reportedly kept a high opinion of Montgomery even after leaving the army. Price failed to win a Conservative seat in Montreal in 1945.

Major General R.F.L. Keller, CBE 8 Sep 1942 - 8 Aug 1944

Major General Rod F.L. Keller graduated from Royal Military College in 1920, and served in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, one of Canada's three regular infantry regiments, until the outbreak of war. Having attended staff college, he went overseas in 1939 as a Brigade Major, later commanding the PPCLI and becoming a brigadier in 1941. He took over the Third Division the next year. Though troops admired Keller's "tough talking demeanour", his staff officers were not happy with his hard drinking and cavalier attitude towards security. He had also taken a married mistress and some felt his visits to her left the GSO I (General Staff Officer I) to run the division in his absence a little too often.

Things did not get better after D-Day. Keller was not regarded highly by the British corps commander under whom his division served (before II Canadian Corps had been formed on the Continent). The Division's performance was rated as having "immense dash and enthusiasm" on D-Day followed by "the rather jumpy, high-strung state of the next few days, and then a rather static outlook." Keller himself was also described as having gone through the same phases, and his corps commander felt the Division would "never be a good division so long as Major General Keller commands it." His own staff officers thought him to be jumpy and overly concerned for his own safety. Some officers, then and since, have claimed that "Keller was yeller."

Keller was confronted by his new corps commander, General Simonds, after II Canadian Corps was activated in the field. Keller surprised Simonds by reporting himself to be in ill health and asking to be relieved. Simonds in turn acted surprisingly by refusing and asked Keller not to be hasty. The next day, Keller agreed to continue on in command of the Division. After three more weeks, Simonds changed his mind, but by then, Keller had become the only Canadian general to be wounded in action in the Second World War; when USAAF planes bombed his headquarters by mistake. Simonds later stated that "I was saved from a very embarrassing situation by Keller being wounded and invalided home before I had to act which I had become convinced was necessary."

Major General D.C. Spry, DSO 18 Aug 1944 - 22 Mar 1945

Major General Dan C. Spry, DSO commanded the Royal Canadian Regiment in Sicily and Italy as a Lieutenant Colonel, and took over the 1st Brigade on 16 December 1943, during the fighting leading up to Ortona. He took command of the newly created 12th Infantry Brigade of the 5th Armoured Division in Italy, before being promoted Major General and given command of the 3rd Canadian Division.

Major General R.H. Keefler, CBE, DSO 23 Mar 1945 - 19 Nov 1945

Major General R. Holley Keefler, CBE, DSO was made acting commander of the 2nd Canadian Division in September 1944, while still acting as Commander, Royal Artillery of the division. He later reverted to command of the 6th Brigade, which he led from 10 November 1944 to 22 March 1945. He assumed command of the Third Division on the 23rd of March and commanded it until the Division was demobilized in late 1945.

Uniform Insignia

At the start of the Second World War, it was felt that colourful unit and formation insignia 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 originally wore formation patches with letters added directly to the patch, or in some cases a plain coloured shape, such as the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC).

The hexagonal patch of the Canadian Army Pacific Force applied overtop of the formation patch indicated a volunteer for the CAPF.

Soldiers at Brigade Headquarters of the division wore coloured strips half an inch wide by three inches long above the Division patch. The 7th Brigade was designated by green, the 8th by red and the 9th by blue. This system of designating Brigade staff was a re-adoption of Great War practice.

Uniform Insignia - CAOF

In the summer of 1945, two separate 3rd Canadian Divisions were located in Europe. To differentiate between the two formations, a strip of French-Grey half an inch wide and three inches long was worn below the Division Patch by members of the Canadian Army Occupation Force. By this time, all arms were wearing regiment/corps identification on their upper sleeves (or on their shoulder straps, in the case of artillery units) and therefore, the only formation patches to be worn were ones shown at left. Also, volunteers for the Canadian Army Pacific Force attached the hexagonal badge of the CAPF to their division patches. Patches courtesy of Bill Alexander.


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

  2. Falconer, D.W. Battery Flashes of W.W. II (D.W. Falconer, 1985) ISBN 0-9691865-0-9 pp.361-362

  3. Ibid

  4. Tonner, Ibid

  5. Falconer, Ibid, p.363

  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.34

  7. Ibid, pp.34-36

  8. Foster, Tony Meeting of Generals (Methuen Publications, Agincourt, ON, 1986) ISBN 0-458-80520-3 p.289

  9. Copp, Terry Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe 1944-1945 (University of Toronto Press Incorporated, Toronto, ON, 2006) ISBN 978-8020-9522-0 pp.209, 211

  10. Falconer, Ibid, pp.365-367

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