Vehicle Markings

Vehicle Markings are a complex study and this article will attempt to give a brief overview, with emphasis on the Second World War. Topics of interest will be studied in detail in additional articles, accessible by the menu at left. In general, vehicle markings were applied to military vehicles by decal, stencil or even freehand in an attempt to provide necessary information, usually for identification purposes (unit, individual vehicle, weight class, tactical identification, etc.). This identification was necessary not just in the heat of battle, but as an aid in traffic control or unit administration, etc.

Markings in the First World War were rudimentary; after the start of the Second World War an entire range of different types of markings were developed in a sophisticated system which was partially maintained through the Korean War and into the latter half of the 20th Century, though by the time of Unification many categories of vehicle markings had faded from use altogether.

First World War

The relatively small number of motorized vehicles and their limited application in combat meant that complicated schemes of tactical and other markings were not required; nonetheless, there were the first beginnings of marking schemes as seen in the Second World War. Canadian tanks at Amiens, for example, had maple leaf devices painted on them in a touch of nationalistic pride that would continue throughout the century and beyond.

Second World War

A representative sample of Canadian Army overseas vehicle markings from the Second World War is given here.1

Vehicle Colours

The subject of vehicle colours is a difficult one to discuss via electronic means due to the variance in monitor settings and a lack of consistency regarding the actual subject matter. Colour photography was not widespread in the Second World War, and accurate reporting of shades and hues has been difficult to obtain. Any discussion of military vehicle colours should be taken with that understanding in mind. The effect of sun, age, precipitation, mud, etc. on military paint schemes should also be taken into account when considering these matters.


The Canadian Army followed closely British Army specifications for painting and marking vehicles, as the bulk of the overseas army was located in the United Kingdom before combat employment in Europe. As the Canadian Army preferred to draw its equipment from domestic sources, some modifications to this practice were made; some vehicles came from British stocks in the UK early in the war, and the 5th Canadian (Armoured) Division drew a large number of British vehicles when it arrived in Italy in late 1943. Paint manufactured in Canada was done to British requirements as described by their War Office, though some modifications were made on occasion to comply with manufacturing conditions in Canada.

The basic requirements as laid down by the War Office were that paint be of a flat ("matte") finish, in order to reduce reflectiveness. Paint had to be able to be resistant to poison gas, and easily decontaminated. The use of lead compounds was subject to restrictions, as the dangers of lead poisoning were known at the time and were especially applied to paint used on vehicle interiors, particularly armoured vehicles.

Paint schemes consisted of a "basic" colour, which was applied to the whole of the vehicle (usually at the factory, with disruptive or camouflage colours applied overtop by brush or spray. Vehicles were usually painted the same basic colour at the factory - a drab green or brown - and repainted if necessary by the Army (in the event of, for example, employment in the desert or in snow-covered terrrain).


Military Training Pamphlet issued in the UK in June 1939 outlined a basic series of two-colour camouflage schemes, and it is believed the Canadian Army adopted these on the outbreak of war. A series of horizontal patterns of Khaki Green G3 (No.23 Middle Bronze Green) and Light Green No.5 (Light Bronze Green) were applied to vehicles.

According to the Milifax article

At some as yet undiscovered time shortly hererafter, the British (and the Canadians) replaced Light Green No.5 with a colour known as Nobel's Dark Tarmac No.4. To the best of our knowledge in 2002, the colour is best described as a dark, muddy gray.

The date for this change was December 1940 according to one source, which described the colour unhelpfully as a "very dark grey, almost black, with just a hint of green...unless it's blue."2


Amendments in 1941 changed the colours used on canvas tops and hoods, and this change is noted in Canadian Army Routine Orders (Overseas) on 14 October 1941. The change was the result of paints at that time causing damage to canvas.

In future, the following paints will be used for the disruptive painting of canvas covers and hoods of vehicles, and demands will be submitted as necessary through the D.A.D.O.S. of the formation to the Canadian Stores Depot, Crookham.

Catalogue No. HA Section H-1 Paint, camouflage, bituminous emulsion
6188 Standard Colour No.1A
6179 Standard Colour No.7

Vehicle bodies were to sprayed, as before, with Khaki Green No. 3 and Dark Tarmac No. 4.

New Colours

At this time as well, a series of Standard Camouflage Colours (SCC) were introduced to supplement, and later replace, Greens G3 and G5. The new colours were produced in both enamel for wood and metal vehicles, and in "bituminous emulsion" for use on canvas.

  • SCC No. 1a Very Dark Brown

  • SCC No. 2 Dark Brown / Service Colour / Service Drab

  • SCC No. 4 Dark Earth (not to be confused with a shade used by the Royal Air Force of the same name)

  • SCC No. 5 Light Mud

  • SCC No. 7 Dark Olive Green

  • SCC No. 11b Desert Pink

  • SCC No. 13 Jungle Green

  • SCC No. 14 Black, also known as Charcoal

  • SCC No. 15 Olive Drab

A month after the above regulations on canvas were promulgated, new orders were published by Canadian Military Headquarters, stating that only the new "paint, camouflage, bituminous emulsion" would be used on vehicle canvas. The orders outlined several colours:

  • For the top of hoods and the dark part of pattern at sides:

    • Catalogue No. HA6188 Standard Camouflage Colour No. 1A (Very Dark Brown), or failing that

    • Catalogue No. HA6184 Standard Camouflage Colour No. 14 (Black)

  • For restoring the basic khaki colour of the sides of faded hoods:

    • Catalogue No.HA6194 Standard Camouflage Colour No. 2 (Service Drab)

The whole of the upturned surfaces of hoods will in future be painted with the dark colour, standard camouflage colour No.1A, or failing that, standard camouflage colour No.14

The basic colour was changed from dark green to a dark brown, Standard Camouflage Colour No.2 (SCC No.2), a dark brown, due to shortages of chromic oxide, used in the production of green paint. Existing paint stocks of green were reserved for use on combat aircraft.

However, older vehicles were not repainted until it was necessary due to major overhauls, severe fading, modifications, or other similar reasons. Painting was not done solely to change the colour to conform to other vehicles in the new basic colour, as that was considered a waste of resources.

The complete list of the new SCCs was published in 1942, with, according to Hodges and Taylor, "idiosyncratic descriptions of the colours" with no explanation of what was meant by "dangerous."3

Colour Description in British Army MTP 46
SCC 1 Brown
SCC 1A Very dark brown
SCC 2 Cup of coffee and milk
SCC 3 Cup of tea
SCC 4 Cup of weak tea
SCC 5 Very light grey
SCC 6 Dark green
SCC 6A Very dark green
SCC 7 A useful warm green
SCC 8 Mid green (rather dangerous)
SCC 9 Light green (very dangerous)
SCC 10 Useful dull red
SCC 11 Rusty red
SCC 11A Bungalow tiles red
SCC 11B Sandy pink
SCC 12 Clean cold grey
SCC 13 Dirty grey
SCC 14 Black

In 1942, a new camouflage scheme was ordered into use, as detailed in Canadian Army Overseas Routine Order 2383 and Army Council Instruction 1160.4


By early 1944, with a preponderance of US designed and built vehicles (particularly AFVs) entering British and Canadian service, the decision was made to retain these vehicles in their factory provided monotone Olive Drab.

Vehicle Markings

From early in the war, the British regulated a system of vehicle markings that they had created before the war and continued to evolve and administer after the war began in 1939. As the British and Canadian armies grew to meet the demand for new and different types of formations, the need for unique systems of identification also arose. In May 1940, a memorandum noted that:

To ensure efficient traffic control the following signs are necessary:

(a) Divisional Sign.

(b) Unit Sign.

(c) Bridge Classification Sign.5

Formation Signs

When the 1st Canadian Division arrived in the United Kingdom in December 1939, the need to identify its vehicles was made apparent, not for matters of national pride but for practical purposes of traffic control (vehicles travelling in large convoys would need to be directed at traffic control points according to which unit or formation they belonged to) or unit administration. Formation signs are illustrated in a separate article with some explanatory notes on their design.

Formation signs eventually measured 6-1/2 inches high by 9 inches wide and were painted on the left front and right rear fenders of vehicles, or the corresponding position if the vehicle did not have fenders. In 1942, formation signs came to include Division, Corps and Army signs, as additional formations arrived in England. Some independent brigades and units had their own formation signs as well.

Unit Signs

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 coloured plates attached to vehicles by means of metal frames. According to regulations issued early in the war:

Each vehicle will have two removable colour plates fitted with permanent frames. The size of the plates will be approximately 9-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches. The fitment of plates will differ with varying types of vehicles and cannot be standardised. These plates are being provided by the A.M.G.O. Canadian Military Headquarters. In some cases a unit may receive a vehicle with only one plate and holder, this is due to the orders for the fittings falling behind the production rate of the vehicles at the Canadian Mechanization Depot...

The holders are placed on the off side mudguard and the off side of the tailboard.

The Serial Numbers and colouring for Div. and Corps Troops are shown at Appx. "C". It will be noted that in the case of Corps units a white horizontal 2 inch bar will be painted above the serial number.

If plates are not available the colours corresponding to the size of the plate will be painted on the vehicle.

The reverse side of the plates will be coloured khaki with "PASS" stenciled on it in white letters. By reversing the plate it will thus be possible to indicate to (Motor Transport) in rear that a vehicle is out of action and should be passed. Vehicles without plates will carry "PASS" signs as a temporary measure.6

Unit Signs consisted of two elements, and Arm of Service flash and a Serial Number. The Arm of Service flash indicated which corps or service the unit was, and the Serial Number (not to be confused with a Unit Serial, a distinctive 3 or 4 digit number that identified each unit upon mobilization) designated a specific unit.

Early in the war, a standard sequence of serial numbers was assigned for each unit in corps and divisions, to be assigned as needed. The system quickly grew beyond control as a plethora of units were created, new arm of service colours had to be adopted (for Britain's new Reconnaissance Corps and the Royal (Canadian) Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). As well, markings for units outside of division and corps organization had to be established (i.e. independent tank brigades, Army-level units, Line of Communications troops, etc.)

Corps Troops Divisional Troops
Serial No. Unit(s) Flash Serial No. Unit(s) Flash
17 HQ, Corps
Employment Platoon
Corps Sec Intelligence Corps
40 HQ of Division
Employment Platoon
Sec Intelligence Corps
18-22 Spare for HQ units 40 HQ of Divisional Artillery
17 HQ, Corps Artillery 40 HQ of Divisional Engineers
1 HQ, Med Artillery 40 HQ of Divisional Royal Army Service Corps
2 Field Regiment


Division Royal Armoured Corps
3 Field Regiment 42 Field Regiment
4 Spare 43 Field Regiment
5 Medium Regiment (Howitzer) 44 Field Regiment
6 Medium Regiment (Howitzer) 46 Anti-Tank Regiment
7-8 Spare for Artillery units 48 Field Park Company
10 Survey Regiment 49 Field Park Company
11 Anti-Aircraft Regiment 50 Field Company
12 Anti-Aircraft Regiment 51 Field Company
13 Anti-Aircraft Regiment 52 Divisional Signals
14 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment 81 HQ, Senior Infantry Brigade
15-16 Spares for A.A. Units 54 Senior Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company
33 HQ, Corps Troops Engineers 55 Senior Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
34 Field Park Company 56 Senior Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
35 Army Field Company 57 Senior Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
36 Army Field Company 87 HQ, 2 Infantry Brigade
37 Army Field Company 59 2 Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company
38 Corps Field Survey Company 60 2 Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
39-40 Spare for Engineers 61 2 Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
41 Corps Signals 62 2 Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
42 Spare for Signals Unit 94 HQ, Junior Infantry Brigade
Note for Signal Sections and Light Aid Detachments: Sig Secs and LADs attached to Inf Bdes or Arty and other units will adopt both the serial no and the colour of the formation or unit to which they are attached. 64 Junior Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company
44 Spare for MG Battalion 67 Junior Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
45 MG Battalion 68 Junior Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
46 MG Battalion 69 Junior Infantry Brigade Infantry Regiment
47 MG Battalion 70 Divisional Ammunition Company, RASC
48-49 Spare for MG Battalions 71 Divisional Petrol Company
50 HQ, RASC Corps 72 Divisional Supply Column
51 C.T. Amn Coy 73 Troop Carrying Company
52 C.T. Sup Column 74 Troop Carrying Company
53 Corps Ammunition Park 75 Field Ambulance, RAMC
54 Corps Petrol Park 76 Field Ambulance, RAMC
55 Indian Animal Transport Company 77 Field Ambulance, RAMC
56 Cypriot Pack Transport Company 78 Field Hygiene Section, RAMC
57 RASC Secs for Animal Transport Company 79 Divisional Provost Company
58 Secs Sup Personnel Company 80 Divisional Postal Unit
59 Secs Sup Personnel Company  
60-63 Spares for RASC Units
64 MAC (Royal Army Medical Corps)
65 Field Ambulance
66 Field Hygiene Section
67 All Mobile Bath Units
68 Spare for RAMC Unit
69 Ordnance Field Park, Royal Army Ordnance Corps
70 Army Field Workshop, RAOC
71 Army Field Workshop, RAOC
72 Army Field Workshop, RAOC
73-75 Spares for RAOC
76 Field Cash Office, Pay Corps
77 Field Cash Office, Pay Corps
78 Field Cash Office, Pay Corps
81 AMPC Company
83 Provost Companies
84 Corps Postal Unit
85 Corps Salvage Units

As early as July 1940, the Canadians were putting in requests to the British War Office for special requirements due to units that did not match these official markings. Needless to say, the catch-all regulations which included such things as Cypriot pack animals would not stand the Canadians in good stead. By the mid-war period, the actual Arm of Service colours and serials in use looked quite different. Orders in 1942 specified the size of the coloured square background as 9-1/2" x 8-1/2" and provided a policy for placement as follows:

The posn of the unit sign will be on the off-side front mudguard or some similar posn to the front and on the near-side on the rear of the veh or some similar posn to the rear. On motorcycles and motorcycle combinations, the unit sign will be painted on tip of mudguard, both front and rear, with size reduced proportionately. Unit signs will not be painted on or fitted to trailers.

A selection of Unit Signs are provided in separate articles. The colour schemes used by the mid-war period grew to include:

Red-over-Blue: Royal Canadian Artillery Green-over-Blue: Reconnaissance
Light Blue: Royal Canadian Engineers Diagonal Green\Red: Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. (The diagonal from upper left to bottom right is the opposite of that used by the Royal Army Service Corps of the British Army.)

Blue-Red-Blue: Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps

(Authorized in December 1943)7

White-over-Blue: Royal Canadian Corps of Signals
Blue-over-Yellow-over-Red: Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (introduced in 1944).  Headquarters and units of other corps/services (i.e. Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, Canadian Provost Corps, Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, Canadian Postal Corps, etc.)
Red: Senior brigade of an infantry or armoured division as well as some independent armoured and infantry brigades. Green: Intermediate brigade of an infantry division.
Brown: Junior brigade of an infantry or armoured division. Blue-over-brown: Some independent armoured brigades.
Early in the war, vehicles were required to carry a "PASS" sign on a khaki background, to replace the Unit Sign when the vehicle was disabled.    

On motorcycles, the unit signs were painted on both fenders, reduced in size. They can also be seen on the gas tanks of some motorcycles as well.

In 1942, the unit signs were moved to the right front and left rear fenders, and the PASS sign was dispensed with. The metal signs and brackets were used until the signs (or the vehicles) were no longer serviceable.

At this time also, serial numbers of Signals units was changed from white to red. General HQ and Army transport units added a 2-inch wide horizontal bar below their serial number.

Restored Canadian truck (Truck, 8-cwt, GS), showing the PASS sign.

For Troop Carrying Vehicles or other transports such as busses, removable plates twice the height of the normal unit signs were fitted into brackets, on the right front and left rear fenders. The lower half was painted with the standard unit sign of the vehicle's unit, while the upper half was painted in black. When the vehicles carried troops, the serial number of their unit (referring to the three or four digit number assigned to the unit upon mobilization, not the Serial painted on their vehicles' Unit Signs) was chalked onto this black square.

Tactical Signs

Tactical signs denoted the role of a vehicle within its own unit. The special geometric-shaped tactical signs of the armoured regiments are most commonly known, and the red and blue tactical markings of artillery regiments have been widely discussed in various hobby publications, but in matter of fact all units, be they echelon, base, or even infantry battalions, utilized them to  to help designate special roles, functions or equipment performed/carried by certain vehicles. In general the signs measured 8 by 6 inches, painted in black with a 5/8-inch yellow border, and having yellow characters 5-8" in thickness not to exceed 2-1/2" wide and 3-1/2" high.8 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 it was 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. The numbers were standardized by individual corps and services, and for infantry units and formation headquarters, by First Canadian Army.

2nd Canadian Division jeep in 1945; the middle marking on the windshield frame is a tactical sign as seen in artillery regiments. DND Photo.

War Department/Census Numbers

Vehicles were identified by unique numbers assigned to them, with two different systems used by the Canadian Army.


In Canada, vehicles were designated by a census style designation in the format yy-n-nnnn (year/number). The yy represented the year of acquisition of the vehicle while the n-nnnn represented the sequential number of the vehicle acquired that year.i.e., 38-1-243 represented the 1,243rd vehicle obtained in 1938. This system may have changed in 1942.


From David Hayward (Maple Leaf Up):

Until Census Numbers had been allocated by the RCOC, all vehicles on assembly in the UK to Canadian contract acquired "CMD" prefixes with numbers in batches allocated to each assembly point. This stood for Canadian Mechanization Depot, although there were only two CMDs...and Southampton was bombed 30 November 1940 leaving just Citroen Cars, Slough, premises, as the sole CMD. However Canadian Mechanization HQ remained at 2,3 & 4 Cockspur Street, London SW1 behind the Canadian High Commission. It must have seemed logical to retain the "CMD" prefix...which acted as a "trade plate" to move vehicles around without Census Numbers.


Elements of the Canadian Army in the UK initially came under the command of British formations and transport was originally drawn from British sources. British census numbers were adopted (known correctly as War Department (WD) Numbers). These numbers were unique identifiers, used in conjunction with a letter prefix identifying the type of vehicle. Early on, the use of a "C" prefix to identify Canadian vehicles was also adopted.

These numbers were to be 3-1/2 inches high, and were painted in white, either horizontally, or if there was no room, diagonally, on the hood of cars and trucks, or on the body of tanks and armoured vehicles. Motorcycles and some trucks had the WD number on the sides of gas tanks. WD numbers also appeared on the back of vehicles; for trucks they were located centrally, 4 inches above the tailgate, and on jeeps they were painted on the left side.

CA Ambulance CM Car (staff car, jeep, etc.)
CC Motorcycle CS Self-Propelled Gun
CF Armoured Car or Scout Car CT Universal Carrier or Tank
CH Tractors (ie Artillery tractors) CX Trailers of all types
CL Lorry (30 cwt or heavier) CZ Truck (15 cwt and smaller)
  • Above: Canadian Jeep during the training for Dieppe. Note the location of the War Department Number, as well as a unit sign on the left rear bumper and the formation sign of the Second Division on the right rear bumper, with maple leaf and "C-II" device. Library and Archives of Canada C138694.

  • Above right: Jeep of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders. Note the WD Number on the hood. Photo courtesy Donn Fowler, SD & G Association.

  • Right: An unidentified soldier stands next to a Canadian jeep near Boulogne, France, in a photo dated 17 Sep 1944. From the collection of Ted Bishop, 16th Field Company, RCE, of the Third Canadian Division. The markings on the windshield correspond to that unit. Photo courtesy Mary Adair.

Bridge Classification Signs

In order to help bridge sentries determine the weight of vehicles wanting to cross them, bridging discs were added to Canadian vehicles. These discs were 6 inches in diameter, painted yellow, bearing black numbers which indicated the weight class of the vehicles. The discs could either be a metal plate attached to the vehicle or else painted directly onto the vehicle. They were usually located on the right front fender, though on many vehicles the disc replaced the right front headlight. Vehicles pulling trailers would have two numbers, one indicated the weight class of the vehicle only, the other the weight class of both vehicle and trailer.

Trailers were given double classifications as well; the upper number designated the increase to be made to the class of the towing vehicle, while the lower number was the weight class of the trailer on its own.

The system of bridge classification became commonly used in the summer of 1940. A letter from the War Office (War Office Letter 57/Vehicles/5940 (SD11)) noted that:

There is at present a considerable risk in war damage to bridges from use by vehicles producing a greater load than that for which a bridge has been designed.

To obviate this risk, it has been decided to adopt a system of classification and marking of bridges and of vehicles.

The 1940 regulations designated Class 5, 9, 12, 18, and 24 bridges, while by 1944, regulations stated that bridge classes would include Class 5, 7, 9, 12, 16, 18, 20, 24, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, and 70.

The number designated the maximum weight class of vehicles which could safely cross that type of bridge.

These vehicle weight classifications did not necessarily denote the actual weight in tons of the vehicle (though for tracked vehicles the numbers often coincided.) The classifications were instead derived from considerations such as axle loading, distance between axles, and impact factor.

Bridges were to be marked with signs indicating the class, as was the route on which vehicular traffic would take to the bridge (with sufficient notice given to drivers who would need to divert due to their vehicle's weight).

Vehicles were likewise to be classified and marking applied designating the load they would impose on a bridge. The classes were designated in multiples of one ton, with the minimum being 1. A motorcycle was classified as a Class 1 vehicle, as well, motorcycles and motorcycle combinations (i.e. with sidecar) did not have bridging discs.

Vehicle classifications were rated so that they could cross a bridge with the same, or greater, numerical designation. For example, a Class 12 vehicle could safely cross a Class 12 bridge or a Class 18 bridge, but not a Class 5 bridge.

Vehicles towing guns or trailers were given double classifications; when marked on vehicles, the upper number designated the class of the complete "train" (i.e. vehicle and gun/trailer/limber etc.) while the lower number designated the class of the "tractor" (vehicle) alone.

Vehicles towing other vehicles had the classifications of both vehicles added to determine the overall classification.

Engineers were responsible for applying the correct classification to all the bridges they erected, and for marking both the bridge and the routes.

Staff and Provost service were responsible for planning any necessary diversions of traffic too heavy to safely cross a bridge, as well as traffic control points.

Unit commanders were responsible for ensuring all vehicles on the charge of their units were properly marked.

Each vehicle was to have its bridging classification marked with a black numeral(s) on a yellow disc attached to, or painted on, the front of the vehicle. As can be surmised, this was problematic in the field, and Canadian Army Training Memorandum No. 22 (published January 1943) reprinted a quick note from the British Army Training Memorandum No. 44 advising that "Excellent work in camouflaging parked vehicles against ground observation is often ruined by failure to cover vehicle classification signs. These are designed so that they may be visible at a considerable distance, and unless they are actually covered they will attract attention to vehicles that would otherwise escape detection. They show clearly through garnished netting, and must be specially covered."

Vehicle Types

Military Training Pamphlet 74 Part IV published in May 1944 listed the following vehicle types and their bridge classifications (the list is also useful for providing a look at vehicle designations as the army of the time used them):

Category Type Vehicle Class
"A" vehicles: Armoured Cars Scout Car Lynx II, 4x4, 81 wb Class 5
Scout Car Humber I, 4x4, 91 wb Class 4
Armoured Car Daimler Mark 1, 4x4, 102 wb Class 7
Armoured Car Humber Mark IV, 4x4, 102 wb Class 7
Armoured Car Staghound, T17EI, 4x4, 120 wb Class 15
Armoured Car, AA Staghound, T17E2, 4x4, 120 wb Class 15
Armoured Car, Command Staghound, T17EI, 4x4, 120 wb Class 15
Armoured Car, Control Staghound, T17EI, 4x4, 120 wb Class 15
Armoured Command Vehicle, High Power Matador, 4x4, 151 wb Class 12
Armoured Command Vehicle, Low Power Matador, 4x4, 151 wb Class 12
"A" vehicles: Universal Carriers Carrier, Universal No. 3, Mark II, Welsh Guard Stowage Class 4
Carrier, Medium Machine Gun No. 3, Mark 11 Class 4
Carrier, 3-Inch Mortar No. 3, Mark II Class 4
Carrier, Universal, T16 T16, Mark I Class 4
Carrier, 4.2-Inch Mortar T16, Mark I Class 4
Carrier, Universal Windsor Class 5
"A" vehicles: Tanks Tank, Light Stuart V, M3A3 Class 14
Armoured Gun Tower Ram II Class 30
Armoured Personnel Carrier Ram II Class 30
Tank, Bridge Laying Valentine Class 18
Tank, Command Sherman, M4A2 or M4A4 Class 33
Tank, Control Sherman, M4A2 or M4A4 Class 33
Tank, Cruiser Sherman, M4A2 or M4A4 Class 33
Tank, Cruiser Sherman VC, M4A4 Class 33
Tank, Observation Post Ram II Class 30
Tank, Observation Post Sherman, M4A2 or M4A4 Class 33
Tank, Recovery Sherman, M4A4 Class 33
"A" vehs: Self Propelled Guns 25-Pr, Self-Propelled, Tracked Sexton Class 30
3-Inch, M10, Self-Propelled, Tracked Sherman, M10 Class 33
17-Pr, M10, Self-Propelled, Tracked Sherman, M10 Chassis Class 33
"B" Vehicles Motorcycle, Solo, Light Matchless single cylinder Class 1
Motorcycle, Solo, Light Norton single cylinder Class 1
Motorcycle, Solo, Heavy Harley-Davidson twin Class 1
Car, 5-cwt Jeep, 5-cwt, 4x4, 80 wb Class 1
Car, Light Sedan, Ford 4 x 2, 114 wb Class 2
Car, Light Sedan, Chevrolet 4x2. 116 wb Class 2
Car, Light Sedan, Dodge 4 x 2, 117 wb Class 2
Station Wagon Ford C11AD, 4X2, 114 wb Class 3
Station Wagon Ford 7-pass, 4X2, 114 wb Class 3
Car, Heavy Buick 4900, 4x2, 139 wb Class 3
"B" Vehicles: Armoured Cars Car, Light Reconnaissance Otter 1,4x4, 101 wb Class 3
Car, Light Reconnaissance Humber, Mark III. 4x4. 112 wb Class 3
"B" Vehicles Truck, 8-cwt, GS Chev/Ford C/F 8 8-cwt. 4x2. 101 wb Class 3
Truck, Heavy Utility, Cipher Office Chev C8A Heavy utility, 4x4, 101 wb Class 3
Truck, Heavy Utility, Computer Chev C8A Heavy utility, 4x4, 101 wb Class 3
Truck, Heavy Utility, Machinery "ZL" Chev C8A Heavy utility, 4x4, 101 wb Class 3
Truck, Heavy Utility, Personnel Chev C8A Heavy utility, 4x4, 101 wb Class 3
Truck, Heavy Utility, Wireless Chev C8A Heavy utility, 4x4, 101 wb Class 3
"B" Vehicles: Armoured Cars Truck, 15-cwt, Armoured Chev C15TA 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 5
Truck, 15-cwt, Armoured White M3A1, 15-cwt, 4x4, 131 wb Class 5
Truck, 15-cwt, Half-Track International M-14, 15-cwt, half-track, 135 wb Class 8
"B" Vehicles Truck, 15-cwt, Battery Charging Chev/Ford C/F 15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 5
Truck, 15-cwt, Fitted for Wireless Chev C15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 4
Truck, 15-cwt, GS Chev C15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 4
Truck. 15-cwt, GS Ford F15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 4
Truck, 15-cwt. LW(V) Chev/Ford C/F 15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 4
Truck. 15-cwt, Machinery "KL" Ford F15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 5
Truck, 15-cwt. Water Chev C15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 5
Truck, 15-cwt, Wireless Chev C15A 15-cwt, 4x4, 101 wb Class 5
Lorry, 30-cwt, GS Chev/Ford C/F 30 30-cwt, 4x4, 134 wb Class 5
Lorry, 3-ton, Ambulance Ford F60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, Battery Storage Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Bulk Petrol Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Caravan Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 5
Lorry, 3-ton, Cipher Office Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Command High Power "H 53" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4X4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Command Low Power Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Dental Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 6
Lorry, 3-ton, Derrick Ford F 60S 3-ton, 4x4, 134 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Disinfector Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 5
Lorry, 3-ton, GS Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, GS Ford F60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, GS Medical Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 5
Lorry, 3-ton, GS Stores (Binned) Chev/Ford C/F 60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Instrument Repair Chev C60L 3-ton, 4X4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Machinery "B", Mk II Ford F60L 3-ton, 4X4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Machinery "D-l" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 6
Lorry, 3-ton, Machinery "I" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Machinery "1-30" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Machinery "J" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 6
Lorry, 3-ton, Machinery "M", Mk II Ford F60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Machinery "Z", Mk II Ford F60L3-ton, 4x4. 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Mobile Kitchen Chev/Ford C/F 60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Mobile Operations Room Bedford QLR 3-ton, 4x4, 143 wb Class 6
Lorry, 3-ton, Office (House type) Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Power Auger Chev/Ford C/F 60L 3-ton, 4x4, 134 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, 20-MM Quad, Self-Propelled Ford F60L 3-ton, 4x4, 134 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, 40-MM, Self-Propelled Ford F60B 3-ton, 4x4, 134 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton, Signals (Cable Layer) Chev/Ford C/F 60L 3-ton, 4x4, 134 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Signal Construction Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 134 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Teleprinter Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, TEV Corps Terminal equipment vehicle Chev C60L, 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, TEV Div Terminal equipment vehicle, Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Tipping Chev C60S 3-ton, 4x4, 134 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Troop Carrying Vehicle Bedford QLD 3-ton, 4x4, 143 wb Class 7
Lorry, 3-ton. Wireless "C 33" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4X4, 134 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Wireless "I" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, Wireless "R" Chev C60L 3-ton, 4x4, 158 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Bacteriological Laboratory Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Camera Leyland Retriever Chev 60X3-ton, 6x4, 156 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Chemical Warfare Laboratory Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Dark Room Leyland Retriever 3-ton, 6x4, 156 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "A" Chev 60X3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "B" Chev 60X3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "F" Chev 60X3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 8
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "L" Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "RE 7 1/2 -KW" Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "Z" Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Mobile Petroleum Laboratory Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Printing Leyland Retriever 3-ton, 6x4, 156 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Stores Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, Switchboard Chev 60X 3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, TEV Army (Terminal equipment vehicle) Chev 60X3-ton, 6x6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, TEV Chev 60X 3-ton, 6X6, 160 wb Class 9
Lorry, 3-ton, 6-wh, X-Ray Ford F60H 3-ton, 6x4, 160 wb Class 8
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, Crane, Mark VI (Coles Crane) Diamond T 970 4-ton, 6x6, 201 wb Class 9
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, Crane, Mark VII  (Bay City Crane) Diamond T 970 4-ton. 6x6, 201 wb Class 12
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, FBE Diamond T 970 4-ton, 6x6, 201 wb Class 12
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, GS Diamond T 970 4-ton, 6x6, 201 wb Class 11
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "H" Diamond T 970 4-ton, 6x6, 201 wb Class 12
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "M" Diamond T 9704-ton, 6x6, 201 wb Class 12
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, Machinery "RE 25-KW" Diamond T 970 4-ton, 6x6, 201 wb Class 12
Lorry, 4-ton, 6-wh, Pontoon Diamond T 970 4-ton, 6x6, 201 wb Class 11
Lorry, 6-ton, GS Mack NR 6-ton, 6x6, 177 wb Class 17
Lorry, 10-ton, Auto Processing Foden D6G 10-ton, 6x4, 188 wb Class 18
Lorry, 10-ton, Breakdown Ward La France M1A1 10-ton, 6X6, 181 wb Class 14
Lorry, 10-ton, Enlarging and Rectifying Foden D6G 10-ton, 6x4, 188 wb Class 18
Lorry, 10-ton, 6x4, GS Mack NM 10-ton, 6x4, 201 wb Class 21
Lorry, 10-ton, 6x6, GS Mack NR 10-ton, 6x6, 177 wb Class 21
Lorry, 10-ton, Photo Mechanical Foden D6G 10-ton, 6x4. 188 wb Class 18
Lorry. 10-ton, Printing Foden D6G 10.ton.6x4, 188 wb Class 18
Tractor, Field Artillery Chev/Ford CGT/FGT FAT, 3-ton, 4X4, 101 wb Class 6
Tractor, Light AA Chev/Ford C/F 60S 3-ton, 4 X 4, 134 wb Class 6
Tractor, Artillery, Medium FWD SU-COE 4-ton, 4x4, 144 wb Class 12
Tractor, Breakdown, Light Chev C60S 3-ton, 4x4, 134wb Class 7
Tractor, Breakdown, Medium Diamond T 969 4-ton, 6x6, 151 wb Class 11
Tractor, Breakdown, Heavy Mack LM-SW 5-ton, 6x4, 166 wb Class 12
Tractor, D-4 Caterpillar Class 9
Tractor. D-7 Caterpillar Class 18
Tractor, D-8 Caterpillar Class 24
Transporter, 16-ton, (Tractor) FWD SU-COE 4-ton, 4x4, 144 wb Class 12
Transporter, 16-ton, (Trailer) Semi-trailer, 16-ton Class 7
Transporter, 20-ton, (Tractor) Federal 604 6-ton, 6 x 4, 168 wb Class 13
Transporter, 20-ton, (Trailer)  Semi-trailer 20-ton Class 7
Transporter, Recovery, 30-ton, (Tractor) Diamond T 980 12-ton, 6x4 179 wb Class 13
Transporter, Recovery, 30-ton, (Trailer) Semi-trailer ,30-ton Class 22
Transporter, Recovery, 40-ton, (Tractor) Diamond T 980 12-ton, 6 x4 179 wb Class 18
Transporter, Recovery, 40-ton, (Trailer) Full trailer, 40-ton Class 10


Type Trailer Cl
Trailer, 10-cwt, GS 10-cwt, 2-wh 1
Class Trailer, 10-cwt, GS 10-cwt. 2-wh 1
Trailer, Cable Splicing 10-cwt, 2-wh 1
Trailer, Direction Finding 10-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer; Generator, 6-KVA and Trailer,
Generator, 6-KW
10-cwt, 2-wh 1
Trailer, Compressor 15-cwt, 2-wh 3
Trailer, Gas Welding 15-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Generator, 9-KW 15-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Generator, 22-KW 15-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Generator, RE, 25-KW 15-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Generator, Wireless, 2-KW 15-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Pole 15-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, 20-cwt, GS 20-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Water 180-gal, 20-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Workshop Servicing 20-cwt, 2-wh 2
Trailer, AA Command Post l-ton, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Generator, 9-KVA 1-ton, 2-wh 2
Trailer, Sterilizer 1-ton, 2-wh 2
Trailer, 4-wh, 2-ton, GS 2-ton, 4-wh, 93 wb 3
Trailer. 4-wh, Motor Boat 2-ton, 4-wh, 125 wb 4
Trailer, Cable Cable drum, 3-ton, 2-wh 6
Trailer, 4-wh, Folding Boat Equipment 3-ton, 4-wh, 144 wb 3
Trailer, Generator, 15-KVA 3-ton, 2-wh 3
Trailer, Generator, Laundry, 24-KW 3-ton, 2-wh 3
Trailer, Generator, Survey, 24-KW 3-ton, 2-wh 3
Trailer, 4-wh, Machinery, Grind & Brake 3-ton, 4-wh, 93 wb 5
Trailer. 4-wh, Machinery, 60-ton Press 3-ton, 4-wh, 93 wb 5
Trailer, 4-wh, Heavy Compressor 4-ton, 4-wh, 93 wb 4
Trailer, 4-wh, AA, No. I MK II (R) Receiver, 5-ton. 4-wh, 161 wb 5
Trailer, 4-wh, AA, No. I MK II (T) Transmitter. 5-ton, 4-wh, 169 wb 6
Trailer 4-wh, AA, No. 3 MK 11 Receiver and transmitter,
5-ton, 4-wh, 170 wb
Trailer, AA, No. 4 MK V 5-ton, 4-wh, 169 wb 7
Trailer, 4-wh, 5-ton, GS 5-ton. 4-wh. 102 wb 8
Trailer, 4-wh, Laundry, CCS Laundry, CCS, 5-ton, 4-wh, 137 wb 9
Trailer, 4-wh, Laundry, MK ll 5-ton, 4-wh, 137 wb 9
Trailer, 4-wh, 6-ton, GS Carrimore, 6-ton, 4-wh. 180 wb 9
Trailer, 6-wh, 7-ton, Light Recovery 7-ton, 6-wh, 136 wb 10

A classification disc is visible on the fender of this Canadian Army truck (a yellow disc with the numeral "8" indicating the vehicle's weight class). After the surrender of Germany, German military policemen were employed, armed, in The Netherlands to maintain order, and in this particular case to guard a food depot. LAC Photo.

Speed Limit Markings

In 1942, markings were introduced to indicate the maximum speed that vehicles were permitted to operate at (measured in miles per hour - Canada and Britain did not operate on the metric system in the 1940s). These were stickers applied to the lower corner of the driver's side front windshield. The sticker was coloured red on the outside and black on the inside. Vehicles without windshields had them applied where the driver could see them. These markings were also sometimes simply stencilled on.

In 1943, khaki coloured metal signs measuring 7 inches by 2 inches were to be placed on the lower right side of the windshield, with the speed limit stencilled in red on the front and black on the back.

Wartime photo of a CWAC driving a jeep. Note the speed limit sticker in the corner of the windshield. DND Photo.

Blackout Markings

For blackout driving, the rear axle housing of some vehicles was painted white. On other vehicles a white disc was mounted underneath the rear of the vehicle so as to be visible to drivers following behind. Some units painted their unit serial on this disc in black to further aid in recognition. On later model vehicles, these discs were illuminated by a light controlled separately by the driver. In England, after VE-Day, and even during hostilities, some units painted other prominent areas of vehicles white to aid in recognition at night, usually on the outer edges of the vehicle so as to make passing safer, to recognize the silhouette of the vehicle, or make protuberances obvious, such as side view mirrors, safety handles, etc.

This photo is captioned in Library and Archives Canada as a Carrier of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, thought the unit marking appears to be a "68", denoting The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada. The photo was taken in Normandy in July 1944 and the range of markings is typical for a Universal Carrier.

Bridging discs were also seen as just a yellow outline with black numeral. Note the location of the WD number. Sergeant H. Louis and Private T.F. McCann are both from the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Unit and Formation Signs were commonly placed on the lower hull of Carriers rather than the mudguards.  LAC Photo.

Commanders Pennants

Cars belonging to formation commanders flew a small pennant indicating the formation.

Vehicles belonging to unit Commanding Officers and Staff Officers were identified at night by means of a lighted sign fitted to the right rear fender. A triangular or square holder approximately 9 inches by 4-1/2 inches was fitted with two translucent panels approximately 3-1/2 inches square, containing a formation or unit sign in the top panel and a formation or unit flag and/or serial number in the lower panel. Despatch Rider signs could also be placed below the lower panel and lit by a separate switch on the dash of the vehicle.

Pennant denoting the Commanding Officer of The South Saskatchewan Regiment of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. Photo taken through a glass frame at the Royal Canadian Legion in Weyburn, SK, 2001.

There were also regulations early in the war for the flying of tactical flags from aerials in armoured units to designated different commanders' vehicles.


National Identification

Recognition markings were used to identify vehicles to friendly forces, especially aircraft. Canadian armoured vehicles in the United Kingdom used a red/white/red recognition flash which was a holdover from the First World War. The 14th Canadian Tank Regiment (The Calgary Regiment) used this style of recognition mark on its vehicles at Dieppe, and Canadian AFVs in the Mediterranean also commonly employed this style of AFV recognition marking.

In 1942, rondels were to be painted on all other vehicles, of the same type used by Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, usually located on the hood.

By June 1944, all Allied vehicles going into Northwest Europe were to have the five pointed American star painted on them instead. These stars sometimes had a circle, either broken or unbroken, painted around them as well. Canadian units often painted the star on crooked in order to differentiate themselves from American units.

Headquarters First Canadian Army published the following order dated 11 April 1944:

Recognition of Vehs

by Allied Aircraft

  1. White Five Pointed Stars

White Five Pointed Stars will be painted on all vehs ("A" and "B"), SP Guns and mobile mech eqpt. with the exception of RAF vehs and med vehs which carry the Geneva cross, as follows:-


(a) Place

(i) All (armoured) vehs (incl SP guns, carriers, trucks, (halftrack) and trucks 15 cwt 4 x 4 personnel (White Scout Cars)

 - TOP only

where space permits (see (d) (i) below).


(ii) All other vehs and equpts - TOP and BOTH SIDES where space permits (see (d) (ii) below.

(b) Design

... -when painted on top of veh to be surrounded by 4 inch wide white circular band, touching the points of the star.

(c) Selection of Space

(i) Top - on largest horizontal or near horizontal surface - NOT on canvas canopies, nor roofs, etc., on which stores are likely to be carried, nor on the part of the cab above the co-drivers seat as this will be holed for AALMG.


(ii) Sides - on any plain vertical or near vertical surface NOT usually obscured by fitments, etc.

(d) Size

(i) Top - as large as possible, NOT less than 1 ft in radius measure from centre to outside edge of band.


(ii) Sides - if possible 10 in radius from centre to tip MINIMUM 3 in radius from centre to tip


(iii) If space does not permit these minims, NO star will be painted

(e) Paint

White lead GS, (Cat no HA 0293), obtainable by indent through Ord channels. Background selected should be as dark as possible.

(f) Present Recognition Mark

The red white red recognition marks now used on AFVs will be removed.


Sgd. ) C.F. Laurin. Lt. -Col. G.S.

for (C.C. Mann) Brig.

(Chief of Staff)

Personnel of the 2nd 7th Reconnaissance Regiment (17th Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars) transfer from a "Seep" (amphibious jeep) to a Chevrolet C15A truck serving as the unit bus at Weener, Germany on 13 February 1946. Conspicuous vehicle markings include the formation sign of the 3rd Canadian Division, CAOF on each vehicle (the French-Grey marking of the 3rd Division was retained by the CAOF), War Department numbers, a speed limit marking on the windshield (35mph) of the 15-cwt, faded white blackout markings on the bumper, lift rings, and rear view mirror of the truck, and unit signs. The Arm of Service flash (green over blue) of a reconnaissance unit is evident on the truck; the jeep appears to have a blue/yellow/red AoS flash indicating a RCEME unit. Just visible in the photo are unit and formation signs on the upper bonnet of the truck, and what appears to be a tactical sign on the door of the truck. The "BUS" sign is an unofficial addition by the unit.

Personnel of 2nd Canadian Infantry Division Signals examine a Ford three-ton lorry which sank into a ditch on the Beveland Causeway on 27 October 1944. The Bridge Classification disc is clearly visible, as is the War Department number in regulation location with "CL" prefix, and a white recognition star, painted upside-down. A unit serial or other information has been chalked onto the bumper.

Korean War

Canadian Army vehicle markings in Korea were much the same as those used during the Second World War. Major changes were WD Numbers, which no longer used a "C" or vehicle type prefix letter. Instead, all WD numbers were prefixed with "CDN". Roundels were not used, though five pointed stars, without the circle surround used in 1944-45, were still in use to identify Canadian vehicles to friendly troops. Several different nations contributed to both the United Nations effort in Korea as a whole, and the 1st Commonwealth Division which was a true multi-national formation.

Unit signs were still used in Korea, of the same type used in the Second World War. Formation signs consisted of either the 25th Canadian Brigade patch, the Commonwealth brigade patch, or both. These signs seem to have been hand painted at times, with a large variety of colours used for the Commonwealth sign, ranging from sky blue to dark blue. These signs were also painted on a shield-shaped background different from the patches worn on uniforms; the tops of the signs were straight across.

Left: 1/35 scale model by Steve Guthrie, depicting Brigadier Rockingham's command vehicle. The red plate with star affixed is an affectation adopted by American general officers; the one star depicts the rank of Brigadier General. Model and photo courtesy Steve Guthrie.

Right: Photo on which the above model was based; note the Commonwealth Division badge is also present. Public Archives of Canada photo 115809 (P.E. Tomelin).

Left: Canadian artillerymen dismount from a truck in Korea; note the CANADA badge on the tailgate, and the Allied recognition star on the mudflap.

Right: Private Mason of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment. This jeep belonged to one of the company commanders. The photo was taken when the battalion was in reserve, most likely in June of 1952 in either the Kanzas or Wyoming line, prior to Operation TROJAN. Note the 25th Brigade badge on passenger side of the windshield, next to which is the Commonwealth Division badge. Tactical signs are on the drivers side. Photo courtesy Art Johnson, Associate Curator, 48th Highlanders Museum and RCR veteran.

1950s - 1960s

Marking schemes continued to develop after the Korean War; War Department numbers gave way to CAR (Canadian Army Registration) numbers, in the format YY-XXXXX. YY was the last two digits of the year in which the vehicle entered Canadian service, followed by a dash and then a 5-digit number unique to the vehicle. For example: 54-82501. Unlike the wartime Census Numbers, the 5 digits were not related to the number of vehicles acquired in any given year. These numbers were painted on vehicles in a manner similar to the previous Census Numbers.

New unit and formation signs evolved; the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps adopted a diagonal red/yellow Arm of Service flash, which was in use by the time Canadian tanks served in Korea. The 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group that served in West Germany re-adopted the 1st Canadian Infantry Division formation sign, while Militia formations in Canada adopted new ones.9

After Unification circa 1967 serial numbers assigned to vehicles of the Canadian Forces were called CFR - Canadian Forces Registration Number. The CFR was a unique 5 digit number that identified one particular vehicle, prefixed by the last two digits of the year of adoption of the vehicles. This number was painted on vehicles, with the prefix deleted. Later, metal license plates similar to civilian license plates were commonly used.

Left: Cougar AVGP with stenciled CFR, Petawawa, 1981. Photo courtesy Ed Storey.

Centre: Chevrolet 1-1/4 ton signals truck, Ottawa. Photo courtesy Ed Storey.

Right: M135CDN truck with CFR plate, Ottawa. Photo courtesy Ed Storey

As weapons systems evolved, became deadlier, more accurate and able to destroy targets on a one-hit basis, the need for markings and paint schemes on equipment continued to be evaluated against the need for camouflage and concealment. Leopard tanks, for example, purchased in the 1970s, were provided with special paint to defeat infra-red detection. The use of electronic identification devices (IFF, or Identification Friend or Foe) and increased situational awareness on the battlefield mitigated, in theory, the need for large and permanent markings of the type employed in Normandy in 1944. In the 1970s and onwards, vehicle markings became subdued in nature and colourful unit markings, like scarlet doublets and feathered bonnets, a thing of the past as far as armies on campaign were concerned.


  1. Of particular help with this information was an article by Richard Yuke of Moose Jaw, SK which originally appeared in Army Motors Magazine, Number 48 (Spring 1989). Additional information can be found in the references section, below.

  2. Guthrie, Steve and Barry Beldam Camouflage & Markings of Canadian Armored Vehicles in World War Two (Part 2) (Model Centrum Progres, Warsaw, Poland, 2009) ISBN 978-83-60672-09-9

  3. Hodges, Peter and Michael D. Taylor British Military Markings 1939-1945 (Cannon Publications, Retford, Nottinghamshire, UK, 1994) ISBN 1-899695-00-1 pp.131-132

  4. A prime resource for information in this section has been the Milifax website, with no credit information though Mick Starmer, Mike Cooper and Michael Hodges of the Model Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association were credited on that site.

  5. 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)

  6. Letter from Colonel Ernest Sansom, Assistant Adjutant & Quartermaster General, 1st Canadian Division, 28 May 1940, reproduced in Dingwall, Ibid.

  7. Letter from Major General P.J. Montague, Senior Officer, CMHQ, dated 8 Dec 1943, reproduced in Dingwall, Ibid

  8. One early war reference appears to state 5-1//2" for the height rather than 3-1/2".

  9. Beldam, Barry. Canadian Vehicle Markings Volume 1: Unit and Formation Markings of the Canadian Army Overseas 1939 to 1967 (Revised Edition 6) (Self-Published)


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