Skip to content

Interim Tank Distinguishing Flags and Markings of the Reconstituted 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), 1943

December 4, 2014

by Mark W. Tonner

As a form of identifying unit and subunit commander’s tanks within Canadian armoured brigades, tank distinguishing flags or pennants were used. These tank distinguishing flags and pennants, were flown from the wireless (radio) aerials of the tank, and were in the colours allotted to the formation or unit using them

Prior to the reorganization of Canada’s two armoured divisions (the 4th and 5th Canadian Armoured Divisions), from each armoured division consisting of two armoured brigades1 and a divisional support group2, to that of each consisting of one armoured brigade3 and one infantry brigade4 and divisional supporting arms and services5, in the United Kingdom, in January 1943, the original 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, had been a component part of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, and as such, used the tank distinguishing flags and pennants, of the junior armoured brigade of the division6. However, as part of the reorganization process, the original 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade was broken up, with Headquarters, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, being redesignated Headquarters, 5th Canadian Armoured Brigade, which became the only armoured brigade of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. Thus, the tank distinguishing flags and pennants, that had been used by the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, were rendered obsolete.

With the reconstitution of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, as an independent armoured brigade7, new tank distinguishing flags and pennants, were required, but since the question of what ‘Arm of Service’ markings8 the brigade was to use, was still not clarified, the manufacture of the former, would have to wait until the arm of service markings the brigade was to use was decided upon. While awaiting this decision to be made by First Canadian Army Headquarters, Headquarters, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), issued a set of instructions as to what interim tank distinguishing flags, were to be flown by the applicable tanks of the brigade. These instructions were issued to the three armoured regiments of the brigade, and the brigade headquarters squadron, by the Brigade Major, Major R.P. Rothschild, under the date of 11 August 1943.

Under these instructions, the following flags (each measuring 12-inches (30-centimetres) high by 24-inches (61-centimetres) wide) were to be used in the interim on the brigade’s tanks. They were to be affixed, 2-inches (5-centimetres) from the base of the aerial, unless otherwise ordered. If two flags were to be flown, they would be affixed, one over the other, on the same aerial. The instructions also suggested, that since these flags were impossible to replace, that they be handled with extreme care.

Brigade Commander, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent) – two black flags

Commanding Officer, 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) – two red flags

Commanding Officer, 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse) – two yellow flags

Commanding Officer, 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment) – two blue flags

Officer Commanding, “A” Squadron of each regiment – two flags, red over red

Officer Commanding, “B” Squadron of each regiment – two flags, blue over blue

Officer Commanding, “C” Squadron of each regiment – two flags, green over green

Troop Leaders in each “A” Squadron , as under

1st Troop – a single flag of solid red

2nd Troop – a single flag horizontally divided red over blue

3rd Troop – a single flag horizontally divided red over green

4th Troop – a single flag horizontally divided red over yellow

5th Troop – a single flag horizontally divided red over white

Troop Leaders in each “B” Squadron , as under

1st Troop – a single flag horizontally divided blue over red

2nd Troop – a single flag of solid blue

3rd Troop – a single flag horizontally divided blue over green

4th Troop – a single flag horizontally divided blue over yellow

5th Troop – a single flag horizontally divided blue over white

Troop Leaders in each “C” Squadron , as under

1st Troop – a single flag horizontally divided green over red

2nd Troop – a single flag horizontally divided green over blue

3rd Troop – a single flag of solid green

4th Troop – a single flag horizontally divided green over yellow

5th Troop – a single flag horizontally divided green over white

Artistic illustrations of the interim tank distinguishing flags for the Troop Leaders in each “A” Squadron, as described in the text. From the top, 1st Troop, 2nd Troop, 3rd Troop, 4th Troop, and 5th Troop. Source: author

Artistic illustrations of the interim tank distinguishing flags for the Troop Leaders in each “A” Squadron, as described in the text. From the top, 1st Troop, 2nd Troop, 3rd Troop, 4th Troop, and 5th Troop. Source: author

The question of what ‘Arm of Service’ markings, the brigade was to use, were settled in October 1943. In a letter dated 18 October 1943, from Staff Duties, Headquarters, First Canadian Army, to Headquarters, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, the arm of service serial numbers allotted to the brigade was made known. The ‘Arm of Service’ marking, in combination with the ‘Formation Sign’ on vehicles, was used as a means of identification and efficient traffic control of vehicles. The standardization, sizes, and positioning of all markings used on vehicles, followed the policy, as set down by either the Senior Officer, Canadian Military Headquarters (London), for formations under their control, or Staff Duties, Headquarters First Canadian Army, for formations under First Canadian Army control, which in turn, followed vehicle marking polices, as set down by the British War Office. The ‘Arm of Service’ marking, was normally a 9½-inches (24-centimetres) by 8½-inches (22-centimetres) rectangle, consisting of a coloured background, appropriate to the formation, corps or branch of the service, to which the unit belonged, onto which a centrally located one, two, three, or four digit number, in white (except for units of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, which were in red), was stencilled. Each individual digit, in a number, was to measure 2½-inches (6-centimetres) wide by 5-inches (13-centimetres) high. These numbers, referred to as the ‘Arm of Service Serial,’ were blocks of numbers that were assigned to formations to identify individual units. As set out in the CANADIAN VEHICLE MARKINGS 1943 pamphlet, these ‘Arm of Service’ markings, were to be stencilled, on the right front side of the tank nose plate, approximately 4½-inches (11-centimetres) below the right headlamp, and in a prominent position on the left of the rear hull plate.

An illustration showing the position of the ‘Arm of Service’ marking, applied to the right front side of the tank nose plate, and of the ‘Formation Sign,’ applied to the left front side of the tank nose plate, as described in the text. Source: authors’ collection.

An illustration showing the position of the ‘Arm of Service’ marking, applied to the right front side of the tank nose plate, and of the ‘Formation Sign,’ applied to the left front side of the tank nose plate, as described in the text. Source: authors’ collection.

The ‘Arm of Service Serial’ numbers allotted to the component units of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), and the background colours to be used, as sent out in the letter of 18 October, were:

– Headquarters, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent) – 50 – on a red background

– 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars) – 51 – on a red background

– 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse) – 52 – on a red background

– 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment) – 53 – on a red background

– No. 84 Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, employed as the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps – 81 – on a diagonally divided red over green background9

– 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals – 50 – on a horizontally divided white over blue background

– 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade Workshop, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps – 50 (later changed to ‘99’) – on a horizontally equally divided blue over yellow over red background

Artistic illustrations of the ‘Arm of Service’ markings for, from left to right, Headquarters, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse), and 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment), all with the horizontal 2-inch (5-centimetre) high white bar added to the bottom (denoting ‘Army Troops’), as described in the text. Source: author

Artistic illustrations of the ‘Arm of Service’ markings for, from left to right, Headquarters, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse), and 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment), all with the horizontal 2-inch (5-centimetre) high white bar added to the bottom (denoting ‘Army Troops’), as described in the text. Source: author

No. 17 Canadian Light Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, retained its ‘Arm of Service Serial’ number of ‘89’ (later changed to ‘1516’) on a black background, and No. 2 Canadian Tank Brigade Sub-Park, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, used ‘Arm of Service Serial’ number ‘69’ on a black background (changed to a background of three vertically equally divided bars of blue/red/blue, as of 8 December 1943). As the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), were to be employed as Army Troops, a horizontal 2-inch (5-centimetre) high white bar (except in the case of units of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, who used red) was to be added to the bottom of the ‘Arm of Service’ markings, of all units within the brigade. This horizontal 2-inch (5-centimetre) high white bar carried below the ‘Arm of Service’ marking, denoted that the parent unit of the vehicle was employed as ‘Army Troops10.’

Artistic illustrations of the ‘Arm of Service’ markings for No. 17 Canadian Light Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, and on the right, an example of the ‘Formation Sign’ used by all component units of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), as described in the text. Source: author

Artistic illustrations of the ‘Arm of Service’ markings for No. 17 Canadian Light Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, and on the right, an example of the ‘Formation Sign’ used by all component units of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), as described in the text. Source: author

The ‘Formation Sign11’ marking used by 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), was that previously authorized for the 2nd Canadian Army Tank Brigade, which was a 6½-inches (17-centimetres) high by 9-inches (23-centimetres) wide rectangle with a centrally located gold (or yellow) maple leaf on a horizontally divided background of black over royal blue over black. Each of the two black bars were 2 3/16-inches (6-centimetres) high, and the royal blue bar was 2 1/8-inches (5-centimetres) high. Again, as set out in the CANADIAN VEHICLE MARKINGS 1943 pamphlet, these ‘Formation Sign’ markings, were to be stencilled, on the left front side of the tank nose plate, approximately 5-inches (13-centimetres) below the left headlamp, and in a prominent position on the right of the rear hull plate. This formation sign was also available as a water-based decal, or transfer (6½-inches (17-centimetres) high by 9-inches (23-centimetres) wide rectangle), with the maple leaf in gold only. Directions for the application of these transfers to a vehicle’s surface, were printed, along with illustrations, on the reverse of each transfer sheet. In preparation of the application of one of these transfers to a vehicle, all paint on the area where the transfer was to be applied, had to be scraped off, after which the surface was to be throughly cleaned with petrol (gasoline). Once the transfer was applied to the cleaned area, and it had dried throughly, a thin coat of varnish, was to be applied over it, as a sealant. These transfers, saved many hours of work for tank crews. Smaller sized ones were also available for use on various wheeled vehicles, trailers, etc12.

Artistic illustrations of the ‘Arm of Service’ markings for, from left to right, No. 84 Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, No. 2 Canadian Tank Brigade Sub-Park, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, and 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade Workshop, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, as described in the text. Source: author

Artistic illustrations of the ‘Arm of Service’ markings for, from left to right, No. 84 Company, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, No. 2 Canadian Tank Brigade Sub-Park, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, and 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade Workshop, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, as described in the text. Source: author

The directions on the reverse of a water-based decal (or transfer) sheet, in this case for Catalogue Number BMT 3075, which was for a small Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, ‘Arm of Service’ background of three vertically equally divided bars of blue/red/blue, onto which the Arm of Service Serial number would be applied in paint, as described in the text. Source: authors’ collection.

The directions on the reverse of a water-based decal (or transfer) sheet, in this case for Catalogue Number BMT 3075, which was for a small Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, ‘Arm of Service’ background of three vertically equally divided bars of blue/red/blue, onto which the Arm of Service Serial number would be applied in paint, as described in the text. Source: authors’ collection.

With the allotment of ‘Arm of Service Serial’ numbers on 18 October 1943, tank distinguishing flags and pennants, for the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), could now be manufactured, for those of the brigade entitled to them. As with the ‘Arm of Service’ markings that were allotted to the brigade headquarters and three armoured regiments, which were those used by the armoured brigades of the 4th and 5th Canadian Armoured Divisions13, the tank distinguishing flags and pennants, for the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), would be as the same pattern, as used by these armoured brigades, with these being:

i.) Brigade Commander:

Brigade Commander, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent) – a red triangular pennant, 12-inches (30-centimetres) high by 36-inches (91-centimetres) long.

ii.) Senior Armoured Regiment: – 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars)

Commanding Officer – a red flag, 18-inches (46-centimetres) high by 36-inches (91-centimetres) long, with the unit arm of service serial number (51), in white, superimposed in the centre.

Officer Commanding, “A” Squadron – a red swallow-tailed triangular pennant, 9-inches (23-centimetres) high by 19-inches (48-centimetres) long, with the cut of the swallow-tail being, 8-inches (20-centimetres) deep, with the geometric squadron marking (a triangle, point upwards), in white, superimposed in the centre.

Troop Leaders, “A” Squadron – a red triangular pennant, 9-inches (23-centimetres) high by 13-inches (33-centimetres) long, with geometric squadron marking (a triangle, point upwards), in white, enclosing the Troop number, in white, superimposed in the centre.

Officer Commanding, “B” Squadron – a red swallow-tailed triangular pennant, 9-inches (23-centimetres) high by 19-inches (48-centimetres) long, with the cut of the swallow-tail being, 8-inches (20-centimetres) deep, with the geometric squadron marking (a square), in white, superimposed in the centre.

Troop Leaders, “B” Squadron – a red triangular pennant, 9-inches (23-centimetres) high by 13-inches (33-centimetres) long, with geometric squadron marking (a square), in white, enclosing the Troop number, in white, superimposed in the centre.

Officer Commanding, “C” Squadron – a red swallow-tailed triangular pennant, 9-inches (23-centimetres) high by 19-inches (48-centimetres) long, with the cut of the swallow-tail being, 8-inches (20-centimetres) deep, with the geometric squadron marking (a circle), in white, superimposed in the centre.

Troop Leaders, “C” Squadron – a red triangular pennant, 9-inches (23-centimetres) high by 13-inches (33-centimetres) long, with geometric squadron marking (a circle), in white, enclosing the Troop number, in white, superimposed in the centre.

iii.) Intermediate Armoured Regiment: – 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse)

Same as above, but using yellow coloured flags and pennants14.

iv.) Junior Armoured Regiment: – 27th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment)

Same as above, but using blue coloured flags and pennants15.

Artistic illustration of the Senior Armoured Regiment’s, Commanding Officer’s red flag, with the unit arm of service serial number, in white, superimposed in the centre, for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), as described in the text. Source: author

Artistic illustration of the Senior Armoured Regiment’s, Commanding Officer’s red flag, with the unit arm of service serial number, in white, superimposed in the centre, for the 6th Canadian Armoured Regiment (1st Hussars), as described in the text. Source: author

An illustration of the ‘Arm of Service’ marking applied in a prominent position on the left of the rear hull plate, and of the ‘Formation Sign’ applied in a prominent position on the right of the rear hull plate, as described in the text. Source: authors’ collection

An illustration of the ‘Arm of Service’ marking applied in a prominent position on the left of the rear hull plate, and of the ‘Formation Sign’ applied in a prominent position on the right of the rear hull plate, as described in the text. Source: authors’ collection

Artistic illustrations of the geometric markings used to identify squadrons within an armoured regiment, from left to right, “A” Squadron (a triangle, point upwards), “B” Squadron (a square), and “C” Squadron (a circle). The senior armoured regiment used red for their squadrons’ markings, the intermediate armoured regiment used yellow for their squadrons’ markings, and the junior armoured regiment used blue for their squadrons’ markings. Source: author

Artistic illustrations of the geometric markings used to identify squadrons within an armoured regiment, from left to right, “A” Squadron (a triangle, point upwards), “B” Squadron (a square), and “C” Squadron (a circle). The senior armoured regiment used red for their squadrons’ markings, the intermediate armoured regiment used yellow for their squadrons’ markings, and the junior armoured regiment used blue for their squadrons’ markings. Source: author

Artistic illustrations of: top - a Brigade Commander’s pennant, right - Troop Leader’s pennant, No. 2 Troop, “B” Squadron, of the senior armoured regiment, and left - Officer Commanding “A” Squadron’s pennant, of the intermediate armoured regiment. Source: MilArt photo archives

Artistic illustrations of: top – a Brigade Commander’s pennant, right – Troop Leader’s pennant, No. 2 Troop, “B” Squadron, of the senior armoured regiment, and left – Officer Commanding “A” Squadron’s pennant, of the intermediate armoured regiment. Source: MilArt photo archives


General Note:

All grouped artistic illustrations used in this article, are relative to scale.

Acknowledgements:

The author wishes to thank Miss Courtney Carrier, for her assistance in offering constructive criticism, and comments, on the draft copy of this article, and on the artistic illustrations, and Clive M. Law for the use of MilArt graphics, and for publishing this article.

Bibliography:

Grodzinski, JR, Operational Handbook for the First Canadian Army, Formation Organization, Staff Technique and Administration (Revised Edition), The Regimental Historian, 1996, Revised 1998.

Library and Archives Canada, Records Group 24, National Defence, Series C-1, Reel C-8372, Reel C-8373, Series C-2, Volume 10079, Volume 10095, and various other Files/Volumes – Records Group 24, National Defence.

Lucy, RV, Canada’s Pride, The Ram Tank and its Variants, Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario, 2014.

Tonner, MW, On Active Service, A summary listing of all units of the Canadian Army called out and placed on active service, Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario, 2008.

Notes:

  1. Consisting of three armoured regiments of the Canadian Armoured Corps, and an infantry (Motor) battalion of the Canadian Infantry Corps.
  2. Consisting of a field regiment, an anti-tank regiment, and a light anti-aircraft regiment, all of the Royal Canadian Artillery, and an infantry battalion of the Canadian Infantry Corps.
  3. Consisting of three armoured regiments of the Canadian Armoured Corps, and an infantry (Motor) battalion of the Canadian Infantry Corps.
  4. Consisting of three infantry battalions of the Canadian Infantry Corps.
  5. Consisting of units of the Royal Canadian Artillery, Royal Canadian Engineers, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, Canadian Dental Corps, Canadian Postal Corps, Canadian Provost Corps, and the Canadian Intelligence Corps.
  6. The senior armoured brigade of the division being, the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade.
  7. See the article, under the MilArt Organization tab, entitled The Evolution of the Reconstituted 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade (Independent), 1943, of 2 December 2014.
  8. The ‘Arm of Service’ markings, in combination with the ‘Formation Sign’ markings, were a system that identified the unit that a vehicle belonged to and the parent formation to which the unit belonged.
  9. Diagonally divided, top left to bottom right, with the top right half red, and the lower left half green.
  10. Troops under the direct control of an army headquarters, and not that of a corps, divisional, or brigade headquarters.
  11. ‘Formation Sign’ markings were used to indicate the parent formation to which a vehicle’s unit belonged.
  12. Later in 1943, ‘Arm of Service’ markings, in basic background colours, in the form of a water-based decal, or transfer, was made available for use, in large or small sizes, onto which the one, two, three, or four digits, of the ‘Arm of Service Serial’ numbers, could be stenciled. Their preparation for use was the same as that for the ‘Formation Sign’ marking, water-based decal, or transfer.
  13. The 4th and 5th Canadian Armoured Brigades, respectively.
  14. With the Commanding Officer’s flag bearing the unit’s arm of service serial number of ‘52.’
  15. With the Commanding Officer’s flag bearing the unit’s arm of service serial number of ‘53.’

You can rate this article by clicking on the stars below

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: