Unit Signs - Armoured Divisions

Unit Signs were a type of vehicle marking used in the Second World War (and afterward). The system of markings developed from early in the war, but underwent several changes before a relatively final form was reached in the mid-war period. The markings on this page reflect the late Second World War period. The purpose of unit signs was to ensure efficient traffic control and assist in recognition. Unit signs consisted of a Serial, usually in white, painted over a coloured background denoting the Arm of Service or Brigade that the unit belonged to. The unit signs were originally carried in metal frames attached to vehicles, and later in the war painted directly onto the vehicles themselves, on the front and rear mudguard. More details are in the general article on "Vehicle Markings."


No. 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division
1 Headquarters 4th Canadian Armoured Division: defence and employment troops, Canadian Intelligence Corps, cash office, RCAPC, CCS, etc. Headquarters 5th Canadian Armoured Division: defence and employment troops, Canadian Intelligence Corps, cash office, RCAPC, CCS, etc.
2 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment) 3rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The Governor General's Horse Guards)
3 8th Canadian Provost Company 5th Canadian Provost Company
4 4th Canadian Armoured Division Postal Section 5th Canadian Armoured Division Postal Section
5 4th Armoured Division Signals 5th Armoured Division Signals
6 10th Independent Machine Gun Company (The New Brunswick Rangers) 11th Independent Machine Gun Company (The Princess Louise Fusiliers)
8 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade Headquarters 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade Headquarters
9 21st Armoured Regiment (The Governor General's Foot Guards) 2nd Armoured Regiment (Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians))
10 22nd Armoured Regiment (The Canadian Grenadier Guards) 5th Armoured Regiment (8th Princess Louise Hussars)
11 28th Armoured Regiment (British Columbia Regiment) 9th Armoured Regiment(British Columbia Dragoons)
12 The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor) The Westminster Regiment (Motor)
13 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade Headquarters 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade Headquarters
14 The Lincoln and Welland Regiment The Perth Regiment
15 The Algonquin Regiment The Cape Breton Highlanders
16 The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) The Irish Regiment of Canada
17 Headquarters, 4th Canadian Divisional Artillery Headquarters, 5th Canadian Divisional Artillery
18 15th Field Regiment 17th Field Regiment
19 23rd Field Regiment (Self Propelled) 8th Field Regiment (Self Propelled)
20 5th Anti-Tank Regiment 4th Anti-Tank Regiment
21 8th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment 5th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
22 Headquarters 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division RCE Headquarters 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division RCE
23 6th Field Park Squadron, RCE 4th Field Park Squadron, RCE
24 8th Field Squadon, RCE 1st Field Squadon, RCE
25 9th Field Squadon, RCE 10th Field Squadon, RCE
26 4th Armoured Division Bridging Troop 5th Armoured Division Bridging Troop
27 Headquarters, Divisional RCASC Headquarters, Divisional RCASC
28 4th Armoured Brigade Company 5th Armoured Brigade Company
29 10th Infantry Brigade Company 11th Infantry Brigade Company
30 Divisional Transport Company Divisional Transport Company
31 4th Armoured Divisional Troops Company 4th Armoured Divisional Troops Company
32 Headquarters, 4th Divisional RCOC Headquarters, 5th Divisional RCOC
33 No. 4 Armoured Division Ordnance Field Park No. 5 Armoured Division Ordnance Field Park
34 Headquarters, Divisional RCEME Headquarters, Divisional RCEME
35 No. 4 Armoured Brigade Workshop No. 5 Armoured Brigade Workshop
36 No. 10 Infantry Brigade Workshop No. 11 Infantry Brigade Workshop
37 Light Aid Detachment Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Light Aid Detachment Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
38 45 Light Aid Detachment (attached to South Alberta Regiment) Light Aid Detachment
39 75 Light Aid Detachment (attached to Governor General's Foot Guards) Light Aid Detachment
40 84 Light Aid Detachment (attached to Canadian Grenadier Guards) Light Aid Detachment
41 41 Light Aid Detachment (attached to British Columbia Regiment) Light Aid Detachment
42 Number 12 Light Field Ambulance Number 7 Light Field Ambulance
43 Number 15 Field Ambulance Number 24 Field Ambulance
44 12th Field Dressing Station 13th Field Dressing Station
45 11th Field Hygiene Station 12th Field Hygiene Station

12th Canadian Infantry Brigade

In early 1944, it was decided to add an "extra" infantry brigade (the 12th) to the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. The Westminster Regiment was re-roled from a Motor battalion to an infantry battalion, the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards were re-roled from Reconaissance to infantry, and two light anti-aircraft regiments were converted to infantry and renamed The Lanark and Renfrew Scottish.

The following information is courtesy of Don Dingwall.  On 26 July 1944 - a preliminary markings guideline (dated 29 April 1944) was issued by 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division General Staff. The Division was advised that these markings were to be taken into effect immediately, but that 8th Army had not yet approved them. Eighth Army had not yet decided on the "proper" format for numbering unit signs for second infantry brigades in armoured divisions.

By August, 8th Army had promulgated the "official" numbering scheme, and on 16 August 1944, the Brigade was made aware of the guidelines governing those numbers.

Unit 26 Jul 1944 16 Aug 1944
Headquarters, 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade
11th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery  
HQ 12th Cdn Inf Bde Support Group (including Defence Platoon)  
Canadian Light Aid Detachment (Type A) (b)
12th Canadian Infantry Brigade Signals Section  
K Troop, 5th Canadian Armoured Division Signals   (a)
4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards
89/109 Infantry Battalion (later Lanark and Renfrew Scottish)
Westminster Regiment (Motor)
12th Canadian Infantry Brigade Machine Gun Company
12th Canadian Infantry Brigade Workshop
12th Canadian Infantry Brigade Company, RCASC  
8th Canadian Light Field Ambulance  
Brigade Section, 5th Canadian Armoured Division Ordnance Field Park  

(a) Signals Sections were to adopt the serial number of the formation or units to which they were attached, on a white and blue background.

(b) Light Aid Detachments were to carry the serial number of the formation or unit to which they were attached, on a blue/yellow/red background.


  • 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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