Mobilized in September 1940, the 4th Canadian Division contained in its order of battle, the 10th, 11th and 12th Infantry Brigades. In 1942 Ottawa took the decision to convert the entire formation to an armoured role, a move that required a considerable re-organisation as well as complete re-training. An armoured division called for just two brigades (in the case of 4th Armoured Division these would be the 3rd and 4th Canadian Armoured Brigades) and so only six of the original nine infantry battalions became armoured regiments, the remaining three battalions being diverted to other formations. The conversion of the division from infantry to armour - accomplished in the unbelievable period of only five months - was carried out by Major-General F.F. Worthington, known to all as Worthy, the founder of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

In 1943 a further reorganisation took place when an infantry brigade (the 10th) replaced one of the armoured brigades in each armoured division. This move left the division with just the 4th Armoured Brigade, and an armoured reconnaissance unit, the South Alberta Regiment. It was in this configuration that the division would see battle but Read More
Mobilized in September 1940, the 4th Canadian Division contained in its order of battle, the 10th, 11th and 12th Infantry Brigades. In 1942 Ottawa took the decision to convert the entire formation to an armoured role, a move that required a considerable re-organisation as well as complete re-training. An armoured division called for just two brigades (in the case of 4th Armoured Division these would be the 3rd and 4th Canadian Armoured Brigades) and so only six of the original nine infantry battalions became armoured regiments, the remaining three battalions being diverted to other formations. The conversion of the division from infantry to armour - accomplished in the unbelievable period of only five months - was carried out by Major-General F.F. Worthington, known to all as Worthy, the founder of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

In 1943 a further reorganisation took place when an infantry brigade (the 10th) replaced one of the armoured brigades in each armoured division. This move left the division with just the 4th Armoured Brigade, and an armoured reconnaissance unit, the South Alberta Regiment. It was in this configuration that the division would see battle but without Worthy at their head. He was returned to Canada in early 1944 on the grounds of age, a move that many have criticised then and since.

Arriving in Normandy in July 1944, the Division saw service in the battles that took the Canadians from Caen to Falaise.

Following the Normandy campaign it saw service in Belgium, Holland and Germany before being disbanded in Holland in 1946.

For further reading see: George Kitching, Mud and Green Fields, Battleline Books, Langley, BC, 1985, and John Marteinson and Michael McNorgan, The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps: An Illustrated History, Robin Brass Studio, 2000.



© 2001, Canadian War Museum

Formation Sign 4th Canadian Armoured Division

Formation Sign 4th Canadian Armoured Division

Canadian War Museum

© 2001, Canadian War Museum


Battle Honours: Second World War

Falaise, Falaise Road,The Laison St. Lambert-sur-Dives, Moerbrugge, The Scheldt, Moerbrugge, The Lower Maas, Kapelsche Veer, The Rhineland, The Hochwald, Veen, Twente Canal, Bad Zwischenahn, North-West Europe, 1944-1945.

Historical Sketch of the South Alberta Regiment in Normandy

Authorized in Medicine Hat, Alberta, on 15 March 1920, the South Alberta Regiment was mobilized for the Second World War in 1940. Originally an infantry unit in the 4th Canadian Infantry Division, when the division was converted to armour, the South Albertas were designated as the divisional armoured reconnaissance unit.

The South Alberta Regiment landed in Normandy on 24 July 1944 with its parent division. Unlike the two reconnaissance regiments in 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions, the 14th Canadian Hussars and the 17th Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars, the South Albertas was expected to have to fight to obtain its information. As the divisional armoured reconnaissance unit it was frequently expected to provide support to the division’s infantry as well as acting as a re Read More

Battle Honours: Second World War

Falaise, Falaise Road,The Laison St. Lambert-sur-Dives, Moerbrugge, The Scheldt, Moerbrugge, The Lower Maas, Kapelsche Veer, The Rhineland, The Hochwald, Veen, Twente Canal, Bad Zwischenahn, North-West Europe, 1944-1945.

Historical Sketch of the South Alberta Regiment in Normandy

Authorized in Medicine Hat, Alberta, on 15 March 1920, the South Alberta Regiment was mobilized for the Second World War in 1940. Originally an infantry unit in the 4th Canadian Infantry Division, when the division was converted to armour, the South Albertas were designated as the divisional armoured reconnaissance unit.

The South Alberta Regiment landed in Normandy on 24 July 1944 with its parent division. Unlike the two reconnaissance regiments in 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions, the 14th Canadian Hussars and the 17th Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars, the South Albertas was expected to have to fight to obtain its information. As the divisional armoured reconnaissance unit it was frequently expected to provide support to the division’s infantry as well as acting as a reconnaissance unit, that is seeking information on the enemy and terrain for the divisional commander.

An officer of this regiment, Major David Currie, was awarded the only Victoria Cross to a Canadian in Normandy. Currie’s squadron, fighting at St-Lambert-sur-Dives, played a significant role in the closing of the Falaise Gap.

Following the Normandy campaign, the regiment fought in Belgium, Holland and Germany.

In 1954 the South Albertas were amalgamated with other units to form The South Alberta Light Horse, which today serves as a tank regiment in 41 Canadian Brigade Group.

For further reading see: Donald Graves, South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War, Robin Brass Studio, Toronto, 1998 and John Marteinson and Michael McNorgan, The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps: An Illustrated History, Robin Brass Studio, 2000.


© 2001, Canadian War Museum

Crest

Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment of 4th Canadian Armoured Division, Northwest Europe, 1944 – 1945

Canadian War Museum

© 2001, Canadian War Museum


Victoria Cross

An officer of this regiment, Major David Currie, was awarded the only Victoria Cross to a Canadian in Normandy.

Canadian War Museum

© 2001, Canadian War Museum


Second World War Uniform Shoulder Flash

Second World War Uniform Shoulder Flash

Canadian War Museum

© 2001, Canadian War Museum


Battle Honours: Second World War

Falaise, Falaise Road, The Laison, Chambois, The Scheldt, The Lower Maas, The Rhineland, The Hochwald, Veen, Twente Canal, Küsten Canal, Bad Zwischenahn, North-West Europe, 1944-1945.

Historical Sketch of the British Columbia Regiment
(Duke of Connaught’s Own) in Normandy

Raised in Vancouver on 12 October 1883, The British Columbia Regiment served as artillery and as an infantry unit before being converted to armour in 1942. It was as infantry that they supplied soldiers for service in South Africa and in the Great War of 1914 - 1918 where three of their members were awarded the Victoria Cross.

When the unit, as a part of the 4th Canadian Division, became armoured in 1942, the regiment served in the 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade.

The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), affectionately known as ’The Dukes’, arrived in Normandy on 26/27 July 1944. The unit’s first major action, on 9/10 August, saw it practically wiped out in an heroic stand on Hill 140. In the course of a night move the Dukes had become lost a Read More

Battle Honours: Second World War

Falaise, Falaise Road, The Laison, Chambois, The Scheldt, The Lower Maas, The Rhineland, The Hochwald, Veen, Twente Canal, Küsten Canal, Bad Zwischenahn, North-West Europe, 1944-1945.

Historical Sketch of the British Columbia Regiment
(Duke of Connaught’s Own) in Normandy

Raised in Vancouver on 12 October 1883, The British Columbia Regiment served as artillery and as an infantry unit before being converted to armour in 1942. It was as infantry that they supplied soldiers for service in South Africa and in the Great War of 1914 - 1918 where three of their members were awarded the Victoria Cross.

When the unit, as a part of the 4th Canadian Division, became armoured in 1942, the regiment served in the 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade.

The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), affectionately known as ’The Dukes’, arrived in Normandy on 26/27 July 1944. The unit’s first major action, on 9/10 August, saw it practically wiped out in an heroic stand on Hill 140. In the course of a night move the Dukes had become lost and ended up, along with two companies of the Algonquin Regiment, cut-off behind enemy lines. The re-built unit later participated in Operation Tractable, which was followed by the capture of Falaise.

Following the Normandy campaign it fought in Belgium, Holland and Germany.

Today ’The Dukes’ are a reconnaissance regiment in Vancouver’s 39 Canadian Brigade Group.

For further reading see: D. E. Harker The Dukes: The Story of the Men who have served in Peace and War with the British Columbia Regiment (D.C.O.) 1883 - 1973, n.p., Vancouver, 1974 and John Marteinson and Michael McNorgan, The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps: An Illustrated History, Robin Brass Studio, 2000.


© 2001, Canadian War Museum

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • find out more information about the final days of the Normandy Campaign of 1944;
  • identify at least 4 patches or badges used in the Second World War;
  • explain most of the terms used in the glossary.

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