First World War
|The use of Service Chevrons
began in 1918, when the British Army first approved the practice. The chevrons were
awarded for "overseas service", which for Canadian soldiers included the United
Kingdom, the European Continent, and Bermuda, though not the United States. One
chevron was awarded for service dating from the day the soldier left Canada, with
additional 12 month periods of service recognized by additional chevrons.
|If the first chevron was earned on or before 31
December 1914, the first chevron the soldier was awarded was red, all other chevrons
subsequent were blue, as were all initial chevrons earned after 1 January 1915.
In all cases, the chevrons were 1/4 inch wide, with the arms being 1-1/4 inch
long. They were embroidered onto khaki serge matching the Service Dress uniform and
worn so that the apex of the lowest chevron was 4 inches from the bottom edge of the right
The issue of Service Chevrons ceased after the
First World War.
Second World War
Major R.F. Routh, the first
Commanding Officer of the S-14 Canadian Parachute Training School
(Canadian Army Training Centres and Schools), in front of the
250-foot High Tower, Camp Shilo, Manitoba, Canada, 11 August 1943.
He wears the first pattern of service chevron on his Khaki Drill
uniform jacket, on the left sleeve, per regulations.
US Army Signal Corps Photo C1:2/09/099
Officers of the Pictou Highlanders
wearing the service chevrons in early 1944, as they wait in Virginia to be embarked on the
troopship that will take them to England.
Service Chevrons were revived
in the Second World War, being introduced in December of 1942. At first, they were
restricted to officers and men of the Active Army except those serving in UK or in
"theatres of war." It was not until 1944 that the restriction against
wearing them in the United Kingdom was removed.
Initially, one black chevron was awarded for each complete year
of continuous service after 10 September 1939. Personnel who joined the CASF on or
before 10 September 1940 were permitted to wear a silver chevron in addition to, and
underneath, any other black chevrons granted. The chevrons were to be worn pointed upwards
on the left forearm of BD Blouses, SD and KD Jackets, summer worsted and drab serge open
collar jackets (only). The point of the lowest chevron was to be 5 1/2 inches from the
bottom of the sleeve, or immediately above any rank or Good Conduct badges worn on the
Library and Archives Canada Photo
Soldier of the Queen's Own Rifles in Normandy in 1944 wearing the later
pattern red chevrons on the right sleeve.
Further orders changed these regulations dramatically. Soldiers in the UK
and overseas war theatres were no longer prevented from wearing the chevrons
(which had changed from black to red). Silver chevrons were no longer
granted in addition to other chevrons earned; rather those who joined in the
first year of the war were entitled to have their first chevrons in silver,
with subsequent chevrons in red. The chevrons were moved from the left
forearm to the right, with the point of the lowest chevron changed from
5-1/2 to 4 inches avove the bottom of the sleeve (or immediately above the
point of the cuff where worn). The silver chevrons issued are actually
in white thread.
Society photo (J. Baylor Roberts)
The wearing of service chevrons earned in the First
World War was prohibited in 1941, with the exception of Veterans Guard
personnel. The prohibition order was later changed to include
all members of the Active Army.
At right, a
corporal of the Veteran's Guard of Canada, photographed in 1942. He is
wearing his First World War Service Chevrons on the right sleeve of his
Battle Dress. Note his First World War ribands worn on his uniform as well.
The following information comes from
an article by Lou Grimshaw in the Military Collector's Club of Canada Journal, Spring
1997issue, via Ed Storey.
Postwar chevrons were authorized in 1955 and remained in
effect until 1968. They were gray on a drab background and issued in one, two,
three, four and five bar chevrons plus a circular
Maple Leaf badge. Stems on the maple leaf badges pointed both left and right
depending on the badge, there was no significance to the direction.
Orders did not specify if the chevrons were worn point up or
point down, and the Ordnance Catalogue shows them in both directions.
The chevrons were only worn by Officers and Other Ranks of
the Militia, not by members of the Regular Force. The wearing of these was
permissive rather than mandatory.
Artifacts and photo courtesy Ed Storey
A chevron was worn for every two years of service provided
all required training and duties were complete. The Maple Leaf was worn with
the five bar chevron indicating 10 years of service. Nothing was awarded after
that as apparently the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD) represented 12 years of service and
good conduct and would have recognized the next two year increment.
Qualifying service in any component of the Canadian Armed Forces, except Regular Reserve,
Supplementary Reserve and Reserve Militia, also included service in any active capacity of
the reserves of the RCN and RCAF, or service with the regular and territorial forces of
any Commonwealth Country.
It was up to the
Commanding Officer to determine qualifying service from whatever sources were available
and publish the entitlement in Part 2 Orders.
Artifacts and photo
courtesy Ed Storey