Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Numbered divisions for the army?

Following on yesterday's post, this news release from DND  says that Canadian Army Areas will be renamed as "Divisions".  This is another step backwards.  While the story claims that this is a "re-introduction" of the old divisional structure, it isn't really.  The new, numbered divisions bear no relation to the 4 divisions of the WWI CEF or the 5 divisions of the WWII Canadian Army.  Each of the wartime divisions had constituent units representing the whole country, the new divisions are completely regional.  The new nomenclature also reduces clarity - the meaning of "Western Area" or "Maritime Area" is readily apparent to any Canadian; who will suspect that 3rd Division represents the West?

As for preserving or reintroducing historical units, here is an example of how it doesn't even do that:  My former militia regiment is the Calgary Highlanders.  The Highlanders perpetuate the 10th Battalion of the CEF, which was in the 1st Division.  During the Second World War, the Calgary Highlanders were in the Second Division.  The new renaming of Land Force Areas to Divisions places the Calgary Highlanders into the 3rd Division - so how is that a restoration of a historical unit?



  1. Will, Will, Will. The restoration comes from the fact that previously on the order of battle, only one of the former historic divisions exists. We now have all five. Personally, I love the fact that I now serve in the 3rd Canadian Division, and will go to Europe next year with the famous French-grey patch of the Water Rats on my sleeve. It meant absolutely nothing to me to know I belonged to "Land Force Western Area" as that had no history attached to it. The 3rd Canadian Division certainly does.

  2. I was also going to mention that other militaries have retained historic formation names, even in peacetime. Look at the U.S. formations such as the 1st Infantry Division ("Big Red One"), 82nd Airborne ("All American"), etc. or even the British 7th Armoured Brigade ("Desert Rats") that fought in the Gulf War. This is a nice move which will let the current generation of soldiers connect to their own institutional past.

  3. Hi, Mike

    I've had opportunity to reconsider my thoughts on this. As the dust settles from our last re-organisation in the spring, I've discovered that my employer plans yet another re-org for October. If the army can keep re-orgs to once a decade or so, that's quite an improvement.

    And then you can tell me about perpetuating the 3rd Division taking Juno Beach.

  4. Oh, hey, will that French Grey patch be in addition to your teddy bear and flying typewriter merit badges?