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Procurement of the 2CMBG Shoulder Flash

July 12, 2014

by Major (Ret’d) Paul Harrison, CD

G4 Supply SSF/2 CMBG 1995

Following the 1995 demise of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, it was decided that the Special Service Force (SSF) was to be re-aligned to closely match 1 and 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Groups. This resulted, on 24 April 1995, in the creation of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2CMBG), based on the former SSF.

The author had been posted to the Force G4 Supply position in December 1994 and one of his secondary duties included supply requirements that fell outside either the unit level or the national (NDHQ) level of responsibility.

In the spring of 1995 the author was advised that the Brigade Commander wanted a new Brigade patch in wear for a parade to be held in the fall of 1995. In addition to the procurement of the badges, the Base tailor shop would have well over 3000 tunics to re- badge with the associated time requirements.

Although National Defence Headquarters understood the need for quick action they advised that the procurement of new brigade patches would not be possible for at least eighteen months due to other priorities. In light of this it was agreed that NDHQ would provide the funding while the author would raise a contract with support from Base Supply.

Calls were made to known Canadian Forces badge suppliers including Grant Emblem in Toronto, Ontario. In a June of 1995 meeting they reviewed the drawings supplied by the Directorate of Heritage and History and agreed to produce five samples for each of the Distinctive Environmental Uniform (DEU) Land and the Army Garrison Dress Uniform. The cost of the samples was approximately $500. The samples, once received, exhibited excellent work and the initial concern was the degree of detail.

First set of samples included white detail for the bear's eyes and claws as well as the bear facing to the right. Courtesy Bill Alexander

First set of samples included white detail for the bear’s eyes and claws as well as the bear facing to the right. Courtesy Bill Alexander

Both the DEU and Garrison versions had a black bear superimposed onto a gold arrowhead and, in keeping with the artwork provided by DHH, included details such as white claws and an eye. The blessing of the Force RSM, CWO Douglas, was obtained although he subsequently directed that it was critical the bear, moving left to right, be reversed. From a heraldic point of view this was not acceptable, so among the changes transmitted to Grant Emblem was a corrected direction, the removal of the white stitching and amplification of the correct colours. The 2CMBG Commander argued against the change of direction of the bear but was over-ruled by heraldic rules governing badge design within the CF.

Second set of samples corrected the initial concerns but the colours were incorrect, especially the Garrison Dress badge which did not  display the 'subdued' colour expected. Courtesy Bill Alexander

Second set of samples corrected the initial concerns but the colours were incorrect, especially the Garrison Dress badge which did not display the ‘subdued’ colour expected. Courtesy Bill Alexander

It was agreed that the supplier would produce another set of samples and, in July a second set of samples, for both DEU and Garrison dress, was received. The DEU versions were basically correct, although the gold arrowhead colour was a shade off, but the Garrison Dress patches were incorrect, as the arrowhead was still in bright gold and not the subdued colour required. The manufacturer was contacted and a third set was produced. These arrived in August and met all the requirements. At that point sealed samples were produced and sent to the DHH and an order for 7000 examples of each badge was placed. This initial order was based on roughly two patches of each type for all army personnel in 2CMBG.

Production examples showing the DEU patch on the left and the Garrison Dress patch on the right. Courtesy Bill Alexander

Production examples showing the DEU patch on the left and the Garrison Dress patch on the right. Courtesy Bill Alexander

CF regulations covering the wear of brigade patches stipulated that these were to be worn on the right sleeve. Once the bear was moving in the heraldically correct direction it could be interpreted as ‘running away’ from battle – in fact 5 Brigade was the butt of good-natured ribbing within the army that the lion depicted on their patch was running away, or facing the rear. This resulted in the brigade commander ordering the formation patch to be worn on the left sleeve only and it remained this way for at least the first year.

Officers of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, circa 1997, shown wearing the 2CMBG formation badge on the left sleeve in order to ensure that the bear was facing forward. This practice was tolerated for only a couple of years by NDHQ. DND photo SUC97-87, courtesy Bruce Graham

Officers of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, circa 1997, shown wearing the 2CMBG formation badge on the left sleeve in order to ensure that the bear was facing forward. This practice was tolerated for only a couple of years by NDHQ. DND photo SUC97-87, courtesy Bruce Graham

One framed set, consisting of the first and second sets of samples, along with SSF patches, was presented to the Base Museum at CFB Petawawa. This included all of the original paperwork that had been created and was donated with the understanding that they would remain on display, with the documentation ensuring a recorded history of the procurement. The remaining patches were released among a few collectors and the G4 at that time.

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