Rank Insignia for Colonels, Brigadiers and General Officers 1900-1999
Canadian land force officers holding the rank of colonel, brigadier, or any grade of general, wore stars and crowns as insignia in the same manner as lower ranking officers, with a special baton and Marmeluke sabre insignia worn by generals. Metal insignia, was worn by these men during the First World War, between the wars, and up to the introduction of Battle Dress in the early years of the Second World Wa.
The rank insignia was worn on the epaulettes of uniform jackets, with the following sequences used:
Gorget Patches were also worn on the collar of the uniform, recalling the metal gorgets worn by officers of the British Army in previous centuries as a badge of rank. They were first worn by the British Army in 1887, and by 1914 had become standard in the Canadian Militia to denote generals and staff officers.
Between the World Wars
Following the First World War, the rank of Brigadier General was briefly abolished in favour of a rank called "Colonel Commandant" which was shortly renamed as Brigadier. The crossed baton and sabre was removed from the rank insignia and changed instead to a crown and three rank stars. These stars were often of a smaller size than that normally worn by lesser ranking officers, in order that they would fit, grouped as shown below, onto the shoulder straps of a uniform. The familiar staff gorgets were also abolished from all ranks below Colonel.1
Gorget patches were worn by General Officers, Brigadiers and Substantive Colonels, in different colours. Generals wore gold oak leaf embroidery on their tabs, with Brigadiers and Colonels having silk gimp cord instead of oak leaf embroidery. Tabs were done in red, with the exception of officers serving in certain Corps as identified below (in the case of Chaplains, rank equivalent to Substantive Colonel was the prerequisite for wearing the tabs, as all Chaplains held Honorary rank only).2
Brigadiers now also wore the same pattern cap badge as a Colonel rather than that of a General Officer.
Second World War and Korea
For battle dress, gorget patches were initially not to be worn. A scarlet cord "boss" was worn on BD by formation commanders; this boss was mounted at the points of the collar of the Battle Dress blouse and worn in lieu of gorget patches, after the question of gorget patches on Battle Dress first arose in the British Army in May 1940. The bosses were deleted in November 1940 after ACI 1366 authorized gorget patches for Battle Dress. The Canadians followed suit, and an amplifying letter advised that the boss would "be worn at each point of the collar of the battle dress blouse...only by Commanders of cavalry, infanty and tank brigades, divisions, corps and higher formations, and by Commanders of Divisional and Corps Artillery. It will not be worn by any other officers." An amendment to this in late 1940 stated "The scarlet cord boss previously authorized for wear by commanders of formations only is now abolished and will no longer be worn."
Once introduced, gorget patches on BD were to be similar in shape to the SD and undress gorget patches, 2 inches long to the point and 1 inch wide, worn horizontally on each side of the opening of the collar, point to the rear, with the top of the patch to be 1/2 inch from the top of the collar. The gold oak-leaf embroidery worn on general's SD gorget patches was to be replaced with plain gold braid 1/5 of an inch wide, or narrower if 1/5 inch braid was not available.
Post Korean War
Unification of the Canadian Armed Forces - 1968
After Unification, many of the distinctions of Colonels, Brigadiers and Generals were abolished. Along with the Sam Browne belt (which were worn by all commissioned officers), the gorget tabs worn by colonels and generals were removed from use. Colonels dressed no differently from other officers, and Brigadiers became known once again as Brigadier Generals.
Generals retained shoulder straps on their uniform jackets, and wore badges of rank there, with maple leaves coming to replace the British-style rank stars and a crown worn by all grades of General. The maple leaf and baton sequences were embroidered directly to the shoulder strap, and were also embroidered in subdued colours for wear on Work Dress (later Garrison Dress) and in olive green for wear on the new Combat uniform. Metal rank badges were retained on the Mess Dress uniform, but disappeared from use in all other orders of dress.
In addition, on the CF Jacket (both CF Green and Tan) all grades of general wore broad bands of gold braid on the cuff.