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The Royal Canadian Dental Corps

The Royal Canadian Dental Corps

Initial creation: 20 April 1915

Followed by: Dental Branch

The Royal Canadian Dental Corps was an organizational corps of the Canadian Army, briefly during the last part of the First World War, and then from 1921 to the time of Unification when it was replaced by the Dental Branch.


On 20 Apr 1915 the Canadian Army Dental Corps was created as a corps of the Non-Permanent Active Militia. The corps disbanded on 1 November 1920. The corps was raised again under the same name the next year on 15 June 1921. On 31 August 1939, the corps was redesignated The Canadian Dental Corps, and on the same day a Regular component was created, also designated The Canadian Dental Corps.

Both components were redesignated The Royal Canadian Dental Corps on 15 January 1947.

On 1 September 1969, the RCDC became the Dental Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces.1


First World War

During the First World War the corps provided personnel under the supervision of the Director of Medical Services for the Canadian Corps in France, and personnel under the Director of Dental Services for service in the UK and Canada.

The corps provided care under the Director General of Dental Services for Canadian personnel in Canada and abroad, serving around the world.

Corps Strength

Men on Strength of the CADC Overseas



Warrant Officers and NCOs


May 1915




11 Nov 1918 (Total)




11 Nov 1918 (France/UK)




The Canadian Army Dental Corps is believed by historians to be the first separate military dental service in the world. Individual dental officers had served previously as attachments to Canadian units in the lines of communication (the 1st Canadian Contingent had one dental surgeon unofficially attached to each Stationary and General Hospital). In early 1915, 19 officers and 38 other ranks were serving overseas in a dental capacity.

Once authorized in May 1915 by Militia Order 257, the CADC had an authorized strength overseas of 30 officers, 34 NCOs and 40 privates. By 11 November 1918 the CADC had 233 officers, 221 NCOs and 238 privates.


CADC personnel eventually performed several functions:

  • Dental inspections of all Canadian soldiers on arrival in England

  • Dental inspections of all returning soldiers before embarking for Canada

  • Provision of normal preventative dental care

  • Treatment of wounds and trench mouth

  • Special care for reconstruction surgery in special clinics


Dentists in the field operated primarily at field ambulances, casualty clearing stations, General and Stationary Hospitals, and at base camps, forestry and railway units. One dental officer was generally assigned to each of these units. A chief dental surgeon was assigned to each divisional headquarters, a dental surgeon to each brigade of mounted rifles and artillery, two dental surgeons to each infantry brigade, and one to each field ambulance. Divisional Troops and Corps Troops also received two dental officers each. Each dental surgeon had a Batman and an Orderly to assist him.

At Le Havre, the Canadian base camp there included a dental store, Canadian Corps dental clinic and a dental laboratory. General clinics were opened in the UK at training centres, command and discharge depots, special hospitals, segregation camps, and in London to care for officers of the Ministry, Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

In Canada, each Military District contained facilities for soldiers on leave from overseas who needed emergency treatment as well as a centralized dental store.

Second World War

The CDC operated everywhere Canadian soldiers operated during the Second World War.

Korean War

Dental services were also provided to the 25th Canadian Brigade during the Korean War.

Uniform Insignia


The corps adopted a coloured beret after the Korean War, in midnight blue with a large green flash. The flash was not popular and was replaced in about 1956 with a dark blue forage cap with green cap band.

Rank Insignia

In 1940, coloured backings were adopted throughout the Canadian Army for officers' rank insignia. The corps adopted a green backing colour, and retained that colour until Unification. The St. Edward's Crown was used in rank insignia after the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II.

Cap Badges

Canadian Army Dental Corps

Two cap badges are identified by Babin as having been issued during the First World War; the DS version is (according to Babin) a manufacturer's error, with the correct version having OS for "Overseas".

In 1921 with the reauthorization of the corps, the DS badge continued in use (according to Mazeas).

Army Dental Corps (DS) Army Dental Corps (OS) Army Dental Corps (DS)

Babin 39-7 Babin 39-8 Mazeas S.10a

The Canadian Dental Corps

The cap badge approved by General Order 3/1929 consisted of a wreath of maple leaves surmounted by the Crown, and within the wreath the monogram "CADC". Bronze officers' badge at right courtesy of Dwayne Hordij. Both are designated Mazeas S.10b.

The Royal Canadian Dental Corps

  Thompson Q82
After the change in designation to "Royal" in 1947, the monogram was altered to read "RCDC". The final change in pattern came in 1953 with the replacement of the Tudor Crown with the St. Edward's Crown.
A cloth cap badge was also produced for the Combat Field Cap using the Queen's Crown "RCDC" design (as per Thompson Q82).

Collar Badges

Collar Badges worn with the CADC cap badge were smaller representations of the badge in either bronze or brass.

Cloth Shoulder Flashes

The first unit identifier used on Battle Dress in the Second World War was a slip on shoulder title adopted early in the war. In 1941, as units moved towards coloured shoulder flashes with embroidered titles, units of the supporting corps and services adopted Formation Patches with their designation "CDC" in gold letters embroidered (or later, printed) directly onto the formation patch. In the latter years of the war, corps titles were adopted, both embroidered and in canvas. Image and artifacts below courtesy Bill Alexander, at right courtesy Bill Ellis.

After the Second World War and the redesignation of the Corps as "Royal", a new coloured flash was introduced.
On Combat Dress, a short title reading "RCDC" was used.


  1. While sources originally consulted for this page suggested that dental services for the RCN and RCAF were merged with the RCDC to create the CF's dental branch, correspondence with Colonel James Taylor, Director of Dental Services, Canadian Forces Health Services Group reveals that the branch history contains no evidence of the RCN and RCAF having separate dental services at the time of unification. Thanks to Colonel Taylor for getting in touch. (Correspondence with the webmaster 21 Jan 2013). 1999-present