Organization

Canadian Army

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1920 Otter Committee
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1919

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1945

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1950-1953

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1939-1945

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6th Division 

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 1950-1953
1 Com Div | 25 Inf Bde

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Reserve Bdes - 1941-1945

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27th Canadian Brigade

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Supplementary Order of Battle

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Unit Listings by Corps/Branch

Armoured Units 1940-1945

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6th Canadian Division

6th Canadian Division
 
Authorized: 18 March 1942
Disbanded: 31 January 1945

The 6th Canadian Division refers to two organizations raised during the 20th Century.

  • 6th Canadian Division

  • 6th Canadian Division (Canadian Army Pacific Force)

The first formation so designated was an active formation of the Canadian Army that served as a home defence organization in the Second World War. The division raised for the Canadian Army Pacific Force was also designated 6th Canadian Division. This article will deal with the former.

Mobilization

The 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade had initially mobilized under General Order 184/40 (effective 24 May 1940) as an independent formation, employed on the Niagara Peninsula guarding facilities such as the Welland Canal, and in May 1941 moved to Nanaimo, BC, on Vancouver Island, where it relieved the 10th Infantry Brigade of the 4th Division of its duties of coastal defence. The 14th and 15th Infantry Brigades mobilized under General Order 63/42, taking effect 29 July 1941, with the 14th Brigade stationed in eastern Canada on the Niagara Peninsula and the 15th Brigade at Valcartier, Quebec.1

In July 1941 the Cabinet War Committee authorized the formation of three brigade groups into a 6th Division for the purposes of home defence. By November 1941, while planning for the upcoming year, the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Crerar, did not feel any "factor in the existing situation warranting the mobilization of an additional division", but noted in his recommendations for the 1942 Army Programme that if conditions worsened, he would recommend the completion of the 6th Division and mobilization of the brigade groups of a 7th. By February 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor and British possessions in the Far East, Canadian entry into the war against Japan, and the disaster at Hong Kong, it was felt that the situation warranted mobilization and on 16 March 1942, Lieutenant General Stuart, the new CGS, recommended formally that the Minister of National Defence proceed.2

General Order 147/42, taking effect from 18 March 1942, authorized the full range of divisional units and services:3

Serial Unit
1800 Headquarters, 6th Division
1800A 6th Division Intelligence Section
1801 No. 6 Field Security Section
1802 No. 6 Defence and Employment Platoon
824 31st (Alberta) Reconnaissance Battalion, C.A.C.
825 Headquarters, 6th Divisional Artillery, R.C.A.
813 9th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, R.C.A.
813A ►Headquarters, 9th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, R.C.A.
813B ►►48th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A.
813C ►►46th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A.
813D ►►25th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A.
813E ►►79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, R.C.A.
814 6th Anti-Tank Regiment, R.C.A.
814A ►Headquarters, 6th Anti-Tank Regiment, R.C.A.
814B ►►33rd Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A.
814C ►►74th Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A.
814D ►►56th Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A.
814E ►►103rd Anti-Tank Battery, R.C.A.
815 Headquarters, 6th Divisional Engineers, R.C.E.
820 ►21st Field Company, R.C.E.
821 ►22nd Field Company, R.C.E.
819 ►7th Field Park Company, R.C.E.
826 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826A ►Headquarters, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826B ►No. 1 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826S ►►Headquarters, No. 1 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826C ►►"A" Section, No. 1 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826D ►►"B" Section, No. 1 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826R ►►"C" Section, No. 1 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826E ►►"D" Section, No. 1 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826F ►►"M" Section, No. 1 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826G ►No. 2 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826T ►►Headquarters, No. 2 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826L ►►"H" Section, No. 2 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826M ►No. 3 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
826U ►►Headquarters, No. 3 Company, 6th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S.
827 No. 13 Defence Platoon
828 No. 14 Defence Platoon
836 No. 15 Defence Platoon
860 Commander 6th Divisional R.C.A.S.C.
869 No. 1 Field Hygiene Section, R.C.A.M.C.
856 6th Divisional Ordnance Workshop, R.C.O.C.
859 6th Divisional Ordnance Field Park, R.C.O.C.
1106 No. 96 Light Aid Detachment (Type A), R.C.O.C.
1107 No. 97 Light Aid Detachment (Type B), R.C.O.C.
1108 No. 98 Light Aid Detachment (Type B), R.C.O.C.
1109 No. 99 Light Aid Detachment (Type B), R.C.O.C.
1110 No. 100 Light Aid Detachment (Type B), R.C.O.C.
699A No. 28 Light Anti-Aircraft Ordnance Workshop Sub-Section, R.C.O.C.
699B No. 29 Light Anti-Aircraft Ordnance Workshop Sub-Section, R.C.O.C.
699C No. 30 Light Anti-Aircraft Ordnance Workshop Sub-Section, R.C.O.C.
699D No. 31 Light Anti-Aircraft Ordnance Workshop Sub-Section, R.C.O.C.
207G No. 9 Salvage Unit, R.C.O.C.
857 No. 8 Mobile Bath Unit, R.C.O.C.
235F No. 7 Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination Unit, R.C.O.C.
236T No. 19 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C.
236U No. 20 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C.
236V No. 21 General Labour Section, R.C.O.C.
822 No. 10 Provost Company, C. Pro. C.
823 6th Divisional Postal Unit, C.P.C.

Order of Battle - March 1942

  • Headquarters, 6th Division

    • 6th Division Intelligence Section

    • No. 6 Field Security Section

    • No. 6 Defence and Employment Platoon

  • Machine Gun Battalion - The Canadian Fusiliers (MG)

  • 13th Brigade

    • 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Scottish

    • The Brockville Rifles

    • 1st Battalion, The Edmonton Fusiliers

    • No. 13 Defence Platoon

  • 14th Brigade

    • The Kent Regiment

    • The King's Own Rifles of Canada

    • The Midland Regiment

    • No. 14 Defence Platoon

  • 15th Brigade

    • Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke

    • Le Regiment de Montmagny

    • Le Regiment de Quebec

    • No. 15 Defence Platoon

Units of the supporting arms included:

  • Canadian Armoured Corps:

    • 31st (Alberta) Reconnaissance Battalion

  • Royal Canadian Artillery:

    • Headquarters, Sixth Divisional Artillery, RCA

    • 19th Field Regiment

    • 20th Field Regiment

    • 21st Field Regiment

    • 9th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

      • 25th Light AA Battery

      • 46th Light AA Battery

      • 48th Light AA Battery

      • 79th Light AA Battery

    • 6th Anti-Tank Regiment

      • 33rd AT Battery

      • 56th AT Battery

      • 74th AT Battery

      • 103rd AT Battery

  • Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers:

    • Headquarters 6th Divisional Engineers, RCE

      • 7th Field Park Company, RCE

      • 20th Field Company, RCE

      • 25th Field Company, RCE

      • 26th Field Company, RCE

  • Royal Canadian Corps of Signals:

    • Headquarters 6th Divisional Signals RCCS

  • Canadian Provost Corps:

    • No. 10 Provost Company

Plus units of the RCASC, RCAMC, CPC, etc.

The Division consisted of loose brigade groups, with division headquarters at Esquimalt, until March 1942, when it was decided to organize along standard divisional lines, with three infantry brigades, a machine gun battalion, an armoured reconnaissance battalion, divisional engineer, ordnance, provost, service, signals and medical units, and a full complement of divisional artillery - three field regiments, an anti-tank regiment and a light anti-aircraft regiment. This was achieved in July 1942. The 14th and 15th Brigades went off to the 8th and 7th Divisions, respectively, and the 18th and 19th Brigades joined the Division.

Order of Battle - July 1942

  • Headquarters, 6th Division

    • 6th Division Intelligence Section

    • No. 6 Field Security Section

    • No. 6 Defence and Employment Platoon

  • Machine Gun Battalion - The Canadian Fusiliers (MG)

  • 13th Brigade

    • 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Scottish

    • The Brockville Rifles

    • 1st Battalion, The Edmonton Fusiliers

    • No. 13 Defence Platoon

  • 18th Brigade

    • The Rocky Mountain Rangers

    • 1st Battalion, The Irish Fusiliers of Canada

    • The Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury Regiment

    • No. 18 Defence Platoon

  • 19th Brigade

    • 3rd Battalion, The Irish Fusiliers of Canada

    • The Winnipeg Light Infantry

    • The Prince Albert Volunteers

    • No. 19 Defence Platoon

Units of the supporting arms included:

  • Canadian Armoured Corps:

    • 31st (Alberta) Reconnaissance Battalion

  • Royal Canadian Artillery:

    • Headquarters, Sixth Divisional Artillery, RCA

    • 19th Field Regiment

    • 21st Field Regiment

    • 24th Field Regiment

    • 9th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

      • 25th Light AA Battery

      • 46th Light AA Battery

      • 48th Light AA Battery

      • 79th Light AA Battery

    • 6th Anti-Tank Regiment

      • 33rd AT Battery

      • 56th AT Battery

      • 74th AT Battery

      • 103rd AT Battery

  • Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers:

    • Headquarters 6th Divisional Engineers, RCE

      • 7th Field Park Company, RCE

      • 20th Field Company, RCE

      • 25th Field Company, RCE

      • 26th Field Company, RCE

  • Royal Canadian Corps of Signals:

    • Headquarters 6th Divisional Signals RCCS

  • Canadian Provost Corps:

    • 10th Provost Company

Plus units of the RCASC, RCAMC, RCOC, CPC, etc.

The three home defence divisions, the 6th, 7th and 8th, were never complete in all arms and services. They did not need to be, for they were designed to operate within the framework of a static organization already existing. This meant that the services of the Commands and Military Districts were available to assist them; it also meant that the artillery of the fixed defences, and other permanent installations, could support them in operations. Thus their establishments were never as complete as those of field divisions. Nor were the establishments ever quite full. On 17 April 1943, the 7th Division was deficient 97 officers and 3738 other ranks; the 6th and 8th Divisions were short approximately 1200 and 1100 all ranks respectively.4

The 18th Infantry Brigade was posted to Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, while the 19th Brigade was stationed at Vernon in the interior of BC as Pacific Command reserve. The 13th Brigade served at Nanaimo. No. 6 Defence and Employment Platoon for the 6th Canadian Division was authorized in March 1942 along with the other divisional units. The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) provided troops for this platoon; they provided Defence and Employment Platoons throughout the division.

No. 6 Defence and Employment Platoon was recruited in various locations in Ontario including Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Orangeville and Port Credit. In mid-May 1942 training began at 20 CA(B)TC Brantford and at Camp Niagara, Ontario. Trained personnel were posted to the new brigade defence platoons as well, and in September one officer and 28 ORs moved to Work Point barracks in Victoria. There was a steady turnover of personnel as recruits were posted in and trained soldiers posted out.

In the first half of 1943, the division was stripped of much of its artillery, losing 79th LAA battery to a coastal defence role, 48th LAA battery moving to 8th Division (both in January) then the headquarters of the 9th LAA Regiment disbanded in May. The 21st Field Regiment and 6th Anti-Tank Regiment both left the Division for overseas.

In May 1943, fully trained active personnel from the Lorne Scots defence units were transferred to depot for proceeding overseas, and partially trained men were sent to infantry Training Centres to complete training prior to going overseas. Fifteen of the new recruits who arrived the next month were National Resources Mobilization Act (NRMA) men, who had been conscripted for service in Canada. By October 1943 the divisional Defence and employment Platoon was in Prince George, BC.

In June 1943, the 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group went to Kiska and 19th Infantry Brigade moved to the 8th Division, returning to the 6th Division in July. The 16th and 20th Infantry Brigades joined the 6th Division in July as well, giving the Division four brigades.

13th Canadian Brigade Group
GREENLIGHT Force

  • Headquarters 13th Brigade Group

  • The Canadian Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment

  • The Winnipeg Grenadiers

  • The Rocky Mountain Rangers

  • Le Regiment du Hull

  • "C" Company, The St. John Fusiliers (M.G.)

  • 24th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

  • 46th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

In October 1943, the 7th and 8th Divisions were disbanded, along with 16th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st Infantry Brigades, followed by the 17th Brigade in November 1943. The 13th Brigade Group (serving at Kiska), 14th Brigade Group (from 8th Division) and 15th Brigade Group (from 7th Division) survived the cut of home defence units and constituted the 6th Division beginning in November 1943. Headquarters of the Division moved from Esquimalt to Prince George in October 1943 and the division reorganized to a brigade group structure. Each of the three brigade groups now had four infantry battalions, one defence platoon, one MG company, one three-battery field regiment and one LAA battery.

Order of Battle November 1943

  • Headquarters, 6th Division

  • 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group

    • 24th Field Regiment, RCA

    • 46th Light AA Battery, RCA

    • The Canadian Fusiliers

    • The Winnipeg Grenadiers

    • The Rocky Mountain Rangers

    • Le Regiment de Hull

    • one company, St. John Fusiliers (MG)

    • No. 13 Defence Platoon

    • 24th Field Company, RCE

  • 14th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group

    • 25th Field Regiment, RCA

    • 48th Light AA Battery, RCA

    • The Winnipeg Light Infantry

    • Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke

    • The Oxford Rifles

    • The Prince of Wales' Own Rangers

    • one company, St. John Fusiliers (MG)

    • No. 14 Defence Platoon

  • 15th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group

    • 20th Field Regiment, RCA

    • 25th Light AA Battery, RCA

    • The Prince Albert Volunteers

    • Les Fusiliers du St. Laurent

    • Prince Edward Island Highlanders

    • The Royal Rifles of Canada

    • one company, St. John Fusiliers (MG)

    • No. 15 Defence Platoon

Units of the supporting arms included:

  • Canadian Armoured Corps:

    • 31st (Alberta) Reconnaissance Battalion

The 13th Brigade Group returned from Kiska in January 1944 having not made contact with the enemy.

The headquarters of the 13th Brigade departed the Division in May 1944 and converted to Headquarters 13th Canadian Training Brigade in England in November 1944. Its place in 6th Division was taken by a newly mobilized Headquarters 16th Infantry Brigade in August 1944. Headquarters of the 14th and 15th Brigades also moved overseas and were disbanded in January 1945.

By late 1944, the need to free fit men for duty overseas was becoming acute alongside a declining need for coastal defences. The disbandment of the 6th Division was approved in hopes of drawing an infantry brigade group and two infantry brigades from it. The government also decided to send 16,000 NRMA men overseas. The decision sparked about a demonstration by about 200-300 NRMA men in Prince George, although none from the Division's Defence and Employment Platoon took part. For a few days, there were demonstrations at several camps along the coast. The divisional headquarters ceased to exist on 2 December, being formally disbanded, along with its Defence and Employment Platoon, on 31 January 1945.

The 16th Infantry Brigade headquarters was disbanded in April 1945. The old 13th Brigade headquarters, now HQ 13th Canadian Infantry Training Brigade, became Headquarters "D" Group Canadian Reinforcement Units in July 1945, redesignated HQ "D" Group Canadian Repatriation Units in August 1945, and finally disbanded in January 1946.

Order of Battle - November 1944

  • Headquarters, 6th Division

  • Machine Gun Battalion - The Canadian Fusiliers (MG)

  • 14th Infantry Brigade Group

    • The Winnipeg Light Infantry

    • Les Fusiliers de Sherbrooke

    • The Oxford Rifles

    • No. 14 Defence Platoon

  • 15th Infantry Brigade Group

    • The Prince Albert Volunteers

    • Les Fusiliers du St. Laurent

    • Prince Edward Island Highlanders

    • No. 15 Defence Platoon

  • 16th Infantry Brigade Group

    • The Midland Regiment

    • The Royal Rifles of Canada

    • The Prince of Wales' Own Rangers

    • No. 16 Defence Platoon

Units of the supporting arms included:

  • Canadian Armoured Corps:

    • 31st (Alberta) Reconnaissance Battalion

  • Royal Canadian Artillery:

    • Headquarters, Sixth Divisional Artillery, RCA

    • 20th Field Regiment

    • 24st Field Regiment

    • 25th Field Regiment

    • 22nd Heavy AA Battery (Mobile), RCA

    • 25th Light AA Battery

    • 46th Light AA Battery

    • 48th Light AA Battery

  • Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers:

    • 15th Field Company, RCE

    • 24th Field Company, RCE

    • 25th Field Company, RCE

Commanders

The Division had only two General Officers Commanding during its existence:

Name Dates in Command Bio and Destination on Leaving Appointment
Major General E.A. Potts, CBE, ED 20 May 1942 - 11 Oct 1943

Had commanded a Canadian infantry brigade overseas before commanding the 6th Canadian Division in Canada.

Major General H.N. Ganong, CBE 16 Oct 1943 - 15 Dec 1944

Commanded in infantry brigade overseas, before commanding the 8th Canadian Division, which he did until it disbanded. He then transferred to command 6th Canadian Division until that formation was also disbanded.

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 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.

The Home Divisions came to adopt distinguishing patches similar to those worn overseas; each was composed of two colours. The 6th Division combined the colours of the 1st and 2nd Divisions, with a red-over-blue flash. The flash was to be worn with the wide end of the red triangle facing the wearer's front.

Artifacts and photos courtesy of Bill Alexander.

Notes

  1. Falconer, D.W. Battery Flashes of W.W. II (D.W. Falconer, 1985) ISBN 0-9691865-0-9 p.382

  2. 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.166-171

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

  4. Stacey, Ibid, pp.183-184


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