Rank and Responsibility

Table of Ranks & Responsibilities

Table of Ranks & Appointments

Staff Officers

Rank & Appt Abbreviations



►►Lieutenant General

►►Major General

►►Brigadier General

►►Brigadier (1928-1968)

►►Col.-Commandant (1922-1928)


►►Lieutenant Colonel




►►2nd Lieutenant

►►Officer Cadet

Warrant Officers

►►Chief Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class I (1915-1968)

►►Master Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class II (1915-1968)

►►Warrant Officer (1968-)

►►W.O. Class III (1939-1945)

Non-Commissioned Officers

►►Staff Sergeant (1900-1968)


►►Lance Sergeant (1900-1968)

►►Master Corporal (1968-2000+)


►►Lance Corporal  (1900-1968)

Non-Commissioned Mbrs (Men)




Master Gunner

Platoon Sergeant Major

Honorary Ranks


Colonel of the Regiment

Honorary Colonel

Colonel Commandant

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:

wwicol.gif (2152 bytes) wwibrig.gif (1761 bytes) wwimajgen.gif (1920 bytes) wwiltgen.gif (2214 bytes)
Colonel Brigadier

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

gorget.gif (1775 bytes)

gorget1.gif (1777 bytes) gorget2.gif (1764 bytes) gorget3.gif (1764 bytes) gorget5.gif (1422 bytes) gorget6.gif (1422 bytes) gorget7.gif (1422 bytes) gorget8.gif (1422 bytes) gorget4.gif (1422 bytes) gorget9.gif (1422 bytes) gorget10.gif (1422 bytes)
Scarlet Dull Cherry Blue Maroon Scarlet Dull Cherry Emerald
Blue Maroon Primrose
& Colonels
RCAMC Canadian

Brigadiers now also wore the same pattern cap badge as a Colonel rather than that of a General Officer.

Second World War and Korea

On Battle Dress, cloth insignia was worn by officers on the epaulettes.  At first these rank badges were backed with khaki coloured cloth, but in 1940, coloured backings were incorporated to indicate the arm of service.  Colonels wore the colour of the branch to whom they belonged, while Brigadiers and Generals wore red backings.  Some brigadiers may have retained coloured branch-specific badges (at least one brigadier in the 3rd Canadian Division retained his black and green Rifle Regiment badges after being promoted.)

Brass insignia was still worn by officers on Service Dress Jackets, Summer Dress uniforms, Greatcoats and other garments.  

The rank of General was also established by the Second World War.

colonel.gif (1933 bytes) brigadier.gif (1940 bytes) majgeneral.gif (1562 bytes)

ltgeneral.gif (1721 bytes)

general.gif (2026 bytes)
Colonel Brigadier Major

geninsignia.jpg (85348 bytes)
Artifacts and image courtesy Dwayne Hordij.  At top centre is the cap badge worn by General Officers.

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

queen.gif (1379 bytes)

After the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the "King's Crown" (also called the "Imperial Crown", the design of which was chosen by King Edward VII in 1910) used in rank insignia was changed to a St. Edward's Pattern Crown.

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.

cfbrig.gif (1714 bytes) cfmajgen.gif (1809 bytes) cfltgen.gif (1894 bytes) cfgen.gif (1975 bytes) gencuff.gif (1985 bytes)


  1. Holmes, Richard. TOMMY: The British Soldier On The Western Front 1914-1918 (Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 2004) p.226. Thanks also to Commander Brian E. Nelson, CD, for supplying information for this section.

  2. 1932 Dress Regulations for the Officers of the Canadian Militia, 1932, Part III, Para 64.


Canadian Army Ranks/Appointments
Non-Commissioned Ranks
Private  | Lance Corporal | Corporal | Master Corporal | Lance Sergeant | Sergeant | Staff Sergeant
Warrant Officers




Warrant Officer | Warrant Officer Class III | Warrant Officer Class II Warrant Officer Class I |  Warrant Officer | Master Warrant Officer | Chief Warrant Officer
Officer Cadet  | 2nd Lieutenant | Lieutenant | Captain | Major | Lieutenant Colonel | Colonel | Colonel Commandant | Brigadier
 Brigadier General | Major General | Lieutenant General | General


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