Royal Canadian Armoured Corps

Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
Active 13 August 1940 – present
Country  Canada
Branch  Canadian Army
Type Personnel branch
Size 3 Regular Force regiments, 18 Reserve Force regiments
Motto(s) Through the mud and the blood to the green fields beyond
March "My Boy Willie"

The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC; French: Corps blindé royal canadien) is the armoured corps within the Canadian Army, including regular and reserve force regiments.[1] (click here to read the Tanks of Canada page and the List of modern Canadian Army equipment).


Canadian-manufactured Ram tanks during the Second World War. These AFVs were used primarily for training and did not see action as battle tanks, though a large number were converted into armoured personnel carriers, flamethrower carriers and armoured observation posts.

Originally formed as the Canadian Cavalry Corps in 1910,[2] Canada's first tank units were not raised until late in 1918. Initially these units were considered to be part of the Machine Gun Corps and the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion, 2nd Canadian Tank Battalion and the 3e Bataillon de chars d'assaut were all too late to join the fighting in the First World War. However, the 1st Canadian Tank Battalion was still training in Mark V tanks in the U.K. when the Canadian Tank Corps was finally authorized two days after the armistice. It seems like tanks were forgotten by the Cavalry after the war. Although, in the 1930s there were some small attempts at mechanization with motorcycles, experimental armoured cars and the purchase of a few tracked Carden-Loyd machine gun carriers for training. However, the first tanks since the First World War did not arrive until a few machine gun armed Vickers Mark VI light tanks appeared just one year before Canada went to war with Germany again. From these modest beginnings the modern Canadian Armoured Corps began on 13 August 1940 with Major-General (then Colonel) F. F. Worthington as its first colonel-commandant. Over the course of the war from 1939 to 1944, the Armoured Corps gradually took over responsibilities from other Corps, such as Tank Regiments all being converted to Armoured Regiments, the transition of infantry reconnaissance battalions to the Armoured Corps, as well as anti-armour responsibilities from the Artillery Corps. Towards the close of the Second World War, the Corps was subsequently bestowed the honour of the 'Royal' designation by King George VI in 1945.

Initially its equipment was 219 US M1917 tanks – a First World War design – obtained at scrap prices. They were sufficient for some training and familiarisation, but otherwise of very limited combat use. To form the 1st Army Tank Brigade, Valentine tanks were ordered. This British design was to be built in Canada. Aside from the necessary adjustments to the design to incorporate local engineering standards and available components, the Canadian Valentines used a GMC engine. This engine, being an improvement over the original, was later applied to British production. In practice, Canada never used most of the 1,400 Valentines they built as they were supplied under lend-lease to the Soviet Union.

In early 1941 the 1st Tank Brigade was sent to Britain and equipped with the Matilda infantry tank. For the formation of two armoured divisions it was expected that 1,200 cavalry tanks were needed. The United Kingdom was not in a position to supply them, as it had shortfalls in supply for its own needs. This meant that Canada had to develop its own production. To this end a tank arsenal was set up under the management of a subsidiary of a US firm engaged in tank production in order to build the Ram and Grizzly tanks and their variants in Canada.

Events of the Second World War would thrust Canada into large scale tank production with thousands of Valentine, Ram, and Grizzly (Sherman) tanks and their armoured variants being produced. Canada would also go on to build modern armoured fighting vehicles that served during the Cold War, the War in Afghanistan and global peacekeeping operations.

Canadian armoured regiments split their heritage between two primary sources. The first being the cavalry corps, from which many armoured regiments were created and in fact the first "armoured" regiments were titled "mechanized cavalry" regiments, and the second being the tank corps (which formerly belonged to first the infantry and then the machine gun corps). This began in 1936 with the creation of tank battalions and continued on from 1940 when many other types of regiment were mobilised as armoured units for the Second World War.

In 1968, with the unification of the Canadian Army into the Canadian Armed Forces, the name of the Royal Canadian Armour Corps was changed to simply the Armour Branch. Despite the change however, the Corps continued to use its traditional title. In 2003, Canada planned to replace all its tanks with lightweight Mobile Gun Systems.[3] In 2007, due to experience gained during Afghanistan, Leopard tanks were purchased.[4] As of April 2013, the traditional designation of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps has been restored for official use.[2]


Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School

The Corps' school at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, designs and conducts both tactical and technical training for armoured crewmen and officers, in addition to maintaining certain specialized qualifications on behalf of the Canadian Army. Crewmen and officers alike are trained on the Leopard 2A4 MBT, Coyote IFV and TAPV vehicle.[5]

Tactics School

The Tactics School at CFB Gagetown develops, conducts and monitors combined arms operations. Within a battle group context, the tactics school focusses on tactics, techniques, and procedures at the combat team level. The Tactics School's mission is to educate and train army junior officers in the integration of combat functions at the combat team level on the tactical battlefield.[5]

Regular Force

A doctrinal Canadian armoured regiment consists of four squadrons of medium to heavy tanks, as well as a close reconnaissance troop equipped with light tanks and/or armoured cars.

  1. The Royal Canadian Dragoons — One heavy armoured squadron (shared with the 12e RBC), and two light armoured squadrons.
  2. Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) — Two heavy armoured squadrons and one light armoured squadron.
  3. 12e Régiment blindé du Canada — One heavy armoured squadron (shared with the RCD), and two light armoured squadrons.

When required an armoured regiment will be tasked to provide an armoured squadron to its higher formation to provide it with a formation mounted reconnaissance capability.

Primary Reserves

  1. The Governor General's Horse Guards — household cavalry/armoured reconnaissance
  2. The Halifax Rifles (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  3. 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) — armoured reconnaissance
  4. The Ontario Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  5. The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  6. Sherbrooke Hussars — armoured reconnaissance
  7. 12e Régiment blindé du Canada (Milice) - armoured reconnaissance
  8. 1st Hussars — armoured reconnaissance
  9. The Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  10. The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal) — armoured reconnaissance
  11. The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) — armoured reconnaissance
  12. The South Alberta Light Horse — armoured reconnaissance
  13. The Saskatchewan Dragoons — armoured reconnaissance
  14. The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  15. The British Columbia Dragoons — armoured reconnaissance
  16. The Fort Garry Horse — armoured reconnaissance
  17. Le Régiment de Hull (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance
  18. The Windsor Regiment (RCAC) — armoured reconnaissance

Supplementary Order of Battle

Units on the Supplementary Order of Battle legally exist, but have no personnel or matériel.

  1. 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards
  2. 12th Manitoba Dragoons
  3. 14th Canadian Hussars


The main vehicles operated by the RCAC include:

Canadian Tanks of the First and Second World War to present

Main article: Tanks of Canada

Order of precedence

RCHA on parade without guns: (See note below)

Preceded by
Army elements of
Royal Military College of Canada
Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Succeeded by
Royal Canadian Artillery

RCHA on parade with guns: (See note below)

Preceded by
Royal Canadian Horse Artillery
Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Succeeded by
Royal Canadian Artillery

Note: The honour of "The Right of the Line" (precedence over other units), on an army parade, is held by the units of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery when on parade with their guns. On dismounted parades, RCHA units take precedence over all other land force units except formed bodies of Officer Cadets of the Royal Military College representing their college. RCA units parade to the left of units of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

See also


  1. The Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Army (Queen's Printer, 1964)
  2. 1 2 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (19 April 2013). "Restoring the historical designations of Canadian Army organizations". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  3. "Canada to replace tanks with Stryker Mobile Gun Systems". Military Procurement International. Switzerland: DAPSS. 13 (22). 15 November 2003. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
    "ARCHIVED - Minister of National Defence Announces Acquisition of a Mobile Gun System". National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. Government of Canada. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
    Storey, Ed (2012). "The Success of the Light Armoured Vehicle" (PDF). Canadian Military History Journal. Wilfrid Laurier University. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  4. "Tanks for the Lesson: Leopards, too, for Canada". Defense Industry Daily. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
    Addinall, Robert (2012). "The Long Engagement" (PDF). The Canadian Army Journal. Government of Canada. 14 (3). Retrieved 3 June 2015.
    Landry, Eric (2013). "Something Old, Something New, and Something Borrowed" (PDF). Canadian Army Journal. Government of Canada. 15 (7). Retrieved 3 June 2015.
    "Cost of battle tanks double initial estimate, O'Connor reveals". CBC. The Canadian Press. 18 May 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
    "Cdn. troops to get new tanks in Afghanistan". CTV News. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  5. 1 2 Canadian Forces Schools


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