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7th Canadian Division

7th Canadian Division
Authorized: 12 May 1942 (GO 309/42)
Disbanded: 15 October 1943 (GO 15/44)

The 7th Canadian Division was an active formation of the Canadian Army that served as a home defence organization in the Second World War.


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.1

During 1941, several formations and units were raised for home defence; in early 1942 it was decided to group these units into divisional organizations. The 16th, 17th and 18th Infantry Brigades were raised in March 1942, and assembled into brigade groups with supporting arms attached.

In May 1942, the Division was formally created and organized along divisional lines during the months of May and June. Headquarters of the Division was established in Debert, NS, with the divisional artillery grouped under Division Headquarters.

The brigades were shuffled, and 7th Canadian Division ended up with the 15th, 17th and 20th Infantry Brigades. Artillery regiments were also moved, and the Divisional artillery became the 20th, 23rd and 26th Field Regiments, with the 8th Anti-Tank and 10th LAA regiments remaining with the Division.

In September 1942, the Essex Regiment was replaced with 24th Reconnaissance Battalion (Voltigeurs de Quebec), and 23rd Field Regiment departed the Division in October.

Infantry units rotated in and out of the Division, and the Voltigeurs left in January 1943, leaving the Division without a recce regiment until disbandment. In May 1943 The 8th Anti-Tank Regiment disbanded and converted to become 28th Field Regiment, remaining with the Division.

In June 1943, the 10th LAA Regiment was reduced to three batteries, with 8th LAA Battery converting to become 63rd AA Battery and moving to coastal defence duties.

In July 1943, 20th Brigade moved to the 6th Division.

In August, a battery of 10th LAA Regiment provided defence for the Quebec Conference.

At the end of 1943, 15th and 20th Brigade moved to 6th Canadian Division as well. In October, most of the Division's units disbanded, including Divisional Headquarters, the divisional defence and employment platoon, divisional intelligence section, divisional headquarters of the artillery and engineers, the RCASC and signals units, the 16th and 18th brigade headquarters and defence platoons, and the 22nd, 27th and 28th Field Regiments.

In November 1943, the headquarters of the 17th Infantry Brigade, 26th Field Regiment and 10th LAA Regiment all disbanded, as did the brigade defence platoon. December saw the remainder of divisional units disbanded.2

Order of Battle May 1942

  • Headquarters, 7th Division

    • 7th Division Intelligence Section

    • No. 7 Field Security Section

    • No. 7 Defence and Employment Platoon

  • Machine Gun Battalion - Le Régiment de Chateauguay (Mit)

  • 16th Brigade

    • The Prince of Wales' Own Rangers

    • The Oxford Rifles

    • The Winnipeg Light Infantry

    • No. 16 Defence Platoon

  • 17th Brigade

    • The Victoria Rifles of Canada

    • 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch (RHR) of Canada

    • The Dufferin and Haldimand Rifles of Canada

    • No. 17 Defence Platoon

  • 18th Brigade

    • The Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury Regiment

    • The Rocky Mountain Rangers

    • 1st Battalion, Irish Fusiliers of Canada (Vancouver Regiment)

    • No. 18 Defence Platoon

Units of the supporting arms included:

  • Canadian Armoured Corps:

    • 30th Reconnaissance Battalion (The Essex Regiment)

  • Royal Canadian Artillery:

    • Headquarters, Seventh Divisional Artillery, RCA

    • 22nd Field Regiment

      • 3rd Field Battery

      • 6th Field Battery

      • 80th Field Battery

    • 23rd Field Regiment

      • 31st Field Battery

      • 36th Field Battery

      • 83rd Field Battery

    • 24th Field Regiment

      • 49th Field Battery

      • 84th Field Battery

      • 85th Field Battery

    • 10th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

      • 6th Light AA Battery

      • 7th Light AA Battery

      • 8th Light AA Battery

      • 9th Light AA Battery

    • 8th Anti-Tank Regiment

      • 10th AT Battery

      • 11th AT Battery

      • 12th AT Battery

      • 13th AT Battery

  • Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers:

    • Headquarters 7th Divisional Engineers, RCE

      • 5th Field Park Company, RCE

      • 15th Field Company, RCE

      • 23th Field Company, RCE

      • 27th Field Company, RCE

  • Royal Canadian Corps of Signals:

    • Headquarters 7th Divisional Signals RCCS

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.3


The Division only had one General Officer Commanding during its existence:

Name Dates in Command Bio and Destination on Leaving Appointment
Major General P.E. Leclerc, CBE, MM, ED 20 May 1942 - 15 Oct 1943

Had commanded a Canadian infantry brigade overseas before commanding the 7th Canadian Division in Canada.

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.

As did the 6th Canadian Division, the 7th Canadian Division also utilized previously used colours in the design of their formation patch, this time combining the colours of the 3rd and 4th Divisions. The wide end of the French-Grey triangle was always worn facing the wearer's front.

Artifacts and photo at left courtesy of Bill Alexander. 7th Division RCCS flashes at right courtesy of Joe Costello.


  1. 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

  2. Falconer, D.W. Battery Flashes of W.W. II (D.W. Falconer, 1985) ISBN 0-9691865-0-9 pp. 387-388

  3. Stacey, Ibid, pp.183-184

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