Tactical Signs - Signals Units

Tactical signs were introduced in order to help designate special roles, functions or equipment performed/carried by certain vehicles. The signs were to measure 8 by 6 inches, be painted in black with a 5/8 inch yellow border, and have yellow characters measuring 3-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches. These signs were generally applied to the right front bumper (or fender) and located on the rear centre of the vehicle's body, though sometimes the signs were located instead on the right rear near the formation sign. The signs were also placed on vehicle sides, either centrally on the leading door, on the turret of armoured vehicles, or on the body of Universal Carriers.

In addition to distinguishing tactical uses of vehicles, listings of tactical sign markings are useful to researchers in establishing scales of issue of numbers and types of vehicles to particular units.

Note that the lists should be taken as a general guide only. Not all units were always up to full establishment of vehicles due to equipment shortages (or, less commonly, may have had surplus equipment on hand extra to establishment). The tables do not provide information on specific vehicle types, which changed during the course of the war for various reasons (tactical requirements changed, as did tables of organization and war establishment; Canadian production vehicles, which were preferred, also became increasingly available overseas as the war progressed).

Signals Units

Joe Costello of rcsigs.ca has graciously passed on the following information from a wartime pamphlet on wartime markings for signals vehicles of First Canadian Army dated October 1942.

Subunit Marking Vehicle Type Vehicle User
Regimental Headquarters Z Sedan Commanding Officer
  Z1 5-cwt Adjutant or Quartermaster
  Z2 S/W Adm Offr
  Z3 Motorcycle Regimental Sergeant Major
  Z4 30-cwt  
  Z5 3-ton  
  Z6 3-ton  
2 Tech Mtce Sec T Motorcycle TMO
  T1 3-ton Stores
  T2 3-ton Workshop
65 Light Aid Detachment X S/W Officer Commanding
  X1 Motorcycle  
  X2 3-ton  
2 Canadian Signal Park 2P 5-cwt Officer Commanding
  2P1 15-cwt  
  2P2 3-ton  
  2P3 3-ton  
  2P4 3-ton  
  2P5 Motorcycle  
H.Q. 1 Coy A S/W Officer Commanding
  A1 5-cwt  
  A2 Motorcycle Company Sergeant Major
  A3 3-ton  
2 Line Mtce Sec 2M S/W  
  2M1 S/W  
  2M2 S/W  
  2M3 30-cwt  
  2M4 30-cwt  
  2M5 Motorcycle  
  2M6 Motorcycle  
Headquarters 4 Line Sec 4A Motorcycle Officer Commanding
  4A1 Motorcycle Second in Command
  4A2 Truck Heavy Utility Personnel  
  4A3 3-ton  
  4A4 3-ton  
1 Fd Quad Det 4Q1 15-cwt G.S.  
  4Q2 3-ton  
  4Q3 3-ton  
2 Fd Quad Det 4Q4 15-cwt G.S.  
  4Q5 3-ton  
  4Q6 3-ton  
1 D.S. Cable Det 4L1 Motorcycle  
  4L2 15-cwt  
  4L3 15-cwt  
  4L4 3-ton  
1 D.S. Cable Det 4L5 Motorcycle  
  4L6 15-cwt  
  4L7 15-cwt  
  4L8 3-ton  
Headquarters 7 Line Sec 7A Motorcycle Officer Commanding
  7A1 Motorcycle Second in Command
  7A2 Truck Heavy Utility Personnel  
  7A3 3-ton  
  7A4 3-ton  
3 Fd Quad Det 7Q1 15-cwt G.S.  
  7Q2 3-ton  
  7Q3 3-ton  
4 Fd Quad Det 7Q4 15-cwt G.S.  
  7Q5 3-ton  
  7Q6 3-ton  
3 D.S. Cable Det 7L1 Motorcycle  
  7L2 15-cwt  
  7L3 15-cwt  
  7L4 3-ton  
4 D.S. Cable Det 7L5 Motorcycle  
  7L6 15-cwt  
  7L7 15-cwt  
  7L8 3-ton  
Headquarters 8 Line Sec 8A Motorcycle Officer Commanding
  8A1 Motorcycle Second in Command
  8A2 Truck Heavy Utility Personnel  
  8A3 3-ton  
  8A4 3-ton  
5 Fd Quad Det 8Q4 15-cwt G.S.  
  8Q5 3-ton  
  8Q6 3-ton  
6 Fd Quad Det 8Q4 15-cwt G.S.  
  8Q5 3-ton  
  8Q6 3-ton  
5 D.S. Cable Det 8L1 Motorcycle  
  8L2 15-cwt  
  8L3 15-cwt  
  8L4 3-ton  
6 D.S. Cable Det 8L5 Motorcycle  
  8L6 15-cwt  
  8L7 15-cwt  
  8L8 3-ton  
Headquarters 2 Coy B S/W Officer Commanding
  B1 5-cwt  
  B2 Motorcycle Company Sergeant Major
  B3 30-cwt  
1 Tele Op K 5-cwt  
  K1 3-ton  
  K2 3-ton  
2 Tele Op 2K 5-cwt  
  2K1 3-ton  
  2K2 3-ton  
4 Op Sec 40 S/W  
  401 3-ton  
  402 3-ton  
  403 3-ton  
  404 Motorcycle  
3 Despatch Rider Section 300 Motorcycle Sergeant
  301 Motorcycle Lance Sergeant
  302 Motorcycle Corporal
  303 Motorcycle Lance Corporal
  304 Motorcycle Lance Corporal
  305 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  306 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  307 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  308 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  309 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  310 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  311 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  312 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  313 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  314 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  315 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  316 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  317 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  318 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  319 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  320 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  321 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  322 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  323 30-cwt  
4 Despatch Rider Section 400 Motorcycle Sergeant
  401 Motorcycle Lance Sergeant
  402 Motorcycle Corporal
  403 Motorcycle Lance Corporal
  404 Motorcycle Lance Corporal
  405 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  406 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  407 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  408 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  409 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  410 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  411 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  412 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  413 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  414 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  415 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  416 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  417 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  418 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  419 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  420 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  421 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  422 Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  423 30-cwt  
2 Wing Sig Sec R S/W  
  R1 15-cwt  
  R2 3-ton  
  R3 3-ton  
  R4 Motorcycle  
  R5 Motorcycle  
  R6 Motorcycle  
  R7 Motorcycle  
  R8 Motorcycle  
  R9 Motorcycle  
  R10 Motorcycle  
  R11 Motorcycle  
1 C.A.S.C Sigs N S/W  
  N1 15-cwt  
  N2 15-cwt  
  N3 15-cwt  
  N4 15-cwt  
  N5 15-cwt  
  N6 15-cwt  
  N7 15-cwt  
  N8 15-cwt  
  N9 15-cwt  
  N10 15-cwt  
  N11 15-cwt (persnl)  
  N12 30-cwt (W/T)  
  N13 30-cwt (W/T)  
  N14 30-cwt (W/T)  
  N15 3-ton  
  N16 3-ton (Office)  
  N17 Motorcycle  
  N18 Motorcycle  
  N19 Motorcycle  
  N20 Motorcycle  
  N21 Motorcycle  
  N22 Motorcycle  
  N23 Motorcycle  
Headquarters M.A. Sig Sec Y1 S/W  
  Y2 5-cwt  
  Y3 15-cwt (line)  
  Y4 30-cwt (line)  
  Y5 15-cwt (line)  
  Y6 30-cwt (line)  
  Y7 30-cwt (Opr)  
  Y8 30-cwt (Opr)  
  Y9 3-ton (Stores)  
H.Q. M.A. M/Cs Y1 Motorcycle  
  Y2 Motorcycle  
  Y3 Motorcycle  
  Y4 Motorcycle  
  Y5 Motorcycle  
  Y6 Motorcycle  
  Y7 Motorcycle  
  Y8 Motorcycle  
  Y9 Motorcycle  
  Y10 Motorcycle  
  Y11 Motorcycle  
  Y12 Motorcycle  
  Y13 Motorcycle  


  • See also Dingwall, Don Canadian Vehicle Markings: A Comprehensive Guide to the Colours and Markings of the Canadian Army Overseas During WWII (Canadian Tracks Publishing, Carp, ON)



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