Organisation of Canadian Army Staff branches

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by Buck-Compton, May 1, 2022.

  1. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    Hello All,

    I'm busy studying the battle of the Scheldt. Recently I found large amounts of Canadian War Diaries. Now I'm trying to get an understanding of what I'm reading in these war diaries. Based on that I'm trying to create excelsheets which give a view of how units where organised and eventually positioned in the the combat actions. Now, I need some help from you guys in a matter.

    I'm trying to find reading about how an Canadian Army, Corps, Division, Regiment/Brigade and batalion where build up in terms of branches and functions within those branches. I have searched on the internet but so far I have been unsuccesfull. Can you help me find documentation which gives me an in depth/detail view of these levels.

    Looking forward to your responses!

    Cheers Remi
  2. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Hi Remi,

    That is a complicated question. At the risk of bombarding you with too much information, you might want to skim this website's entry for First Canadian Army, as well as some of the corps and divisions (etc).
  3. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Hi Remi, as Chris as pointed out, start at his posted link. And as you have questions post them here and we can help.

    I “think” your question is also asking, what about the “branches and functions within these branch’s”………I believe you may be talking about “support organizations” within the Canadian military, which can be confusing and complicated to persons that are not familiar with the Canadian or British system of organziation.

    So, for example, the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps………and large group within the Canadian Army would does everything from driving trucks, to cooking meals etc etc. Yes theirs are specific RCASC units that are composed of members of the RCASC, and they operate as a unit……..but then their can be RCASC sub units (Like LAD’s) that were “part” of an infantry Battalion or Tank Regiment or Artillery unit whose job was to support that specific unit……

    So, it can be complicated, but I’m sure we can help you sort out your questions on “who does what with whom” as you read about the Canadian Army in WW2

    Another document you may wish to look at is on the link below. When you open it, it will allow you to download a large document that gives you information on the Organization of the First Canadian Army. This document was prepared by the Directorate of History

    Content page -

    And, this link will take you to about a 188 documents that give you “official history reports” about the Canadian Army during WW2, which again can be downloaded

    DHH - CMHQ Reports 1940-1948

    Including this document which is specific to the:

    Canadian Participation in the Operations in North-West Europe, 1944. Part VI: Canadian Operation, 1 Oct - 8 Nov. The Clearing of the Scheldt Estuary.

    NOTE: all are large documents and sometimes take time to download

    Happy reading, and we are here with answers

    Last edited: May 1, 2022
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList

    My interpretation of the question is:

    The basic hierarchy is, from the top (with armour/artillery equivalents in brackets):

    Brigade [^ Formations ^]
    Battalion (Regiment / Regiment) [Unit]
    Company (Squadron / Battery) [v Sub-units v]
    Platoon (Troop / Troop)

    Regiment is the tricky one as it relates to an actual unit as well as - in layman's terms - a number of battalions wearing the same capbadge. We'll ignore how the Americans and Germans use it, for now...

    Typically, 2-4 (usually 3) of the smaller make up the larger in terms of fighting elements. However, as you go up the the table, you get more services (logistics) added to support the arms.

    Here's a fairly light summary of the actual Army:

    First Canadian Army
  5. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    Hello All,

    I had a better look at it gave some better insight in how staff's are organized but still not the level of detail I'm looking for. I'm an staff officer in the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces so I have some level of understanding how modern army's organize their HQ's. But as far as this is helpfull it also channels my voew at this matter.

    Temujin: thank you for those links they contain some info I was looking for. I do need to have a better look at them. I do wonder about the branch organistation. for what I understand at the moment a staff in the Canadian armed forces consists out of a G, A and Q branch. Of which G is dedicated to operations. A to personnel and Q to administrations and logistics. In NATO terms G would be S3, S2 and S5? A would be S1 and Q would be S4.
    I do have a hard time understanding something else I've found. In the 1st Army general staff war diary there is a monthly list called List of Officers G-Ops, CW and Cam. I figured G-Ops is the G branch. But I have a hard time understanding the others. I've added a screebshot of the sheet. Maybe you or someone else can make sense of it?


    idler Thank you for the link I'm aware of difference of interpertation of the term Regiment. My focus is not at the unit level but at the HQ's within those levels. I've added an example I've found of an artillery Regiment maybe that gives some insight in to what I'm looking for.


    With Kind regards,

    Chris C likes this.
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Hi Remi,

    Apologies for getting the very wrong end of the stick earlier. This may help - it's from the US primer on the British Army's way of doing things so should hold true for the Canadians. I thought there was a US-Br staff 'conversion' table in the book but haven't found it, or I've remembered it from somewhere else; Field Service Pocket Book, perhaps?

    The easy bits are CW = Chemical Warfare and Cam = Camouflage. They are in evidence in the Corps table below:

    00.jpg 06.jpg 13.jpg 14.jpg 15.jpg 16.jpg 17.jpg 18.jpg 19.jpg 20.jpg 21.jpg
    Chris C likes this.
  7. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    The US Army Handbook on British Forces is the most accessible source for British (and therefore Canadian) Staff practices. I do think it is though a little dated, in that it was based on the Staffs of 1942 Div and Bde HQs, which underwent some amendment over the following three years. I was looking for something on the same subject myself a little while ago and was able to find a copy of "Staff Duties in the Field" from 1949, though not a complete one. While postwar it does detail the division of duties between "G" and "A & Q" in detail, for Div and Bde HQs. The WW2 G-1 to G-4 staffs of US Div and above HQs in large part dealt with the same functions, but don't neatly parallel the British system. I won't pretend to have a clue about the modern day.

    "G" - Operations, Intelligence and Liaison
    "A" - Personnel (including reinforcements and discipline) and personal (including Chaplains and medical services)
    "Q" - Supply (including movement and accommodation)

    The lowest level HQ to include a Staff element was Brigade; unit HQs, Battalion/Regiment, would always include an Adjutant (responsible for "G" and "A"), aided by the Intelligence officer ("G"), and the RSM ("A"), with the Quartermaster naturally fulfilling "Q".

    There is I understand a Field Service Pocket Book explaining the US G-1 to G-4 roles for the British reader (makes a change!) though I've not seen it. There was also a Joint "Q" School run to familiarise British/US officers with staff duties in the other army.

    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  8. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Last edited: May 3, 2022
  9. Temujin

    Temujin Member

  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    THe British and Canadian WW2 staff structure was different to that of WW2 US and post War NATO. Some of the names are of particular appointments are anachronistic and date from earlier centuries.

    Modern armies have a Chief of Staff (COS) at formation level. (Brigade upwards)

    In WW2 British and Canadian Brigades had a Brigade Major, Divisions had a Colonel General Staff Corps and Armies had a Chief of Staff, while 21st Army Group had a major General Chief of General Staff..

    Modern Armies have a Deputy Chiuef of staff who is repsonsible for logistics and administration. In WW2 this staff officer was, at Corps level, the Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General.

    THere is a lot of information on this forum in th wThux pages on HQs. Headquarters
  11. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I think you need to get your hands on the following publication:

    Grodzinski, John R. Operation Handbook for the First Canadian Army 1944-1945: Formation Organization, Staff Technique and Administration. Regimental Historian, nd.

    I think it will answer most of your questions.
  12. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    That seems easier said than done! :(
  13. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member


    I agree. My copy was gifted to me many years back. A search turned up one at the Library and Archives of Canada and another at a military museum in Canada. There was probably only a small run for the publication.

    I can probably provide some copies from the book if needed.
    Chris C likes this.
  14. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    Hello all,

    Thanks for your replies and documents!

    Sheldrake this is a source about the UK 2nd army right? I can compare this one on one to the Canadian 1st army?

    dryan67 I tried to find your book online but I was unable to find a place where I could buy or loan it within the region of the Netherlands. Are you able to make a photo copy of the book? I have software which allows me to transfer photos to a pdf format so others might be able to use it.

    Cheers remi
  15. idler

    idler GeneralList

    There's also a just-post-war book G, A and Q - An Introduction to the Staff. Again, it's British but should cover the Canadians. It might address the US way of doing things as well.
  16. Temujin

    Temujin Member

  17. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

  18. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    It’s right at the bottom of the information (sorry, snail mail)


    • The Regimental Historian, 175 Skyridge Avenue,
      Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Canada, B4C 1R8

    Cost: $15.00, includes post to North America. Overseas Rates Higher.
  19. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    I'd write to
    The Regimental Historian
    Specializing in Canadian Army History

    John R. Grodzinski
    Chief Researcher
    -- Pristinae virtutis memores --
    175 Skyridge Ave
    Lower Sackville, NS
    B4C 1R8
    Fax: 902-427-0203
    The Canadian Army - Canadian Information Sources
  20. Buck-Compton

    Buck-Compton Junior Member

    Temujin Sheldrake I got in touch with them but they don't sell the book anymore. Dryan67 contacted me already he is going to make some photos for me of the copy he has.


    Chris C likes this.

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