Heritage Structure | Chapter 3 - Honours to units and organizations

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SECTION 1 – THE CANADIAN FORCES GROUP HONOURS SYSTEM

PURPOSE

  1. Group honours are awarded to provide public recognition of the deeds and activities of formed military bodies, beyond the demands of normal duty and the high standards expected of Canadian Forces (CF) members. Canadian unit honours include:
    1. battle honours and honorary distinctions (refer to Section 2); and
    2. after unification, the CF introduced unit commendations (the CF Unit Commendation and the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation) to recognize deeds or activity outside war to complement battle honours and honorary distinctions. For further information contact National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ)/Director Honours and Recognition.

REVIEW PROCESS

  1. At the conclusion of all wars, the Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH) automatically conducts an historical review of combat operations. When this review is complete, Chief Military Personnel will recommend to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) that the process to award potential honours be initiated. There is no requirement for the chain of command and their honour-bearing units to request that the process to award honours be initiated, the process is automatic.
  2. Battle honours and honorary distinctions are objectively assessed by independent committees (Battles Nomenclature Committee [BNC] and/or Battle Honours Committee [BHC]). Worthy combat operations or possible entitlement to an approved battle honour or honorary distinction may be drawn to the Committee’s attention through the command’s representative on the appropriate Committee (refer to Section 2).
  3. Although there is no statute of limitations on the granting of battle honours and honorary distinctions, grounds for review of previous decisions cannot be used to challenge the expertise of a Committee. In all cases, it must be conclusively proven that they did not possess all relevant and necessary information (refer to Section 2, paragraph 5.). All requests for review of battle honours or honorary distinctions must be processed through the chain of command to Chief Military Personnel.

APPROVAL AUTHORITIES

  1. The Governor General approves the names of operations deserving battle honours and the general conditions of award on behalf of the Sovereign.
  2. On the advice of a specifically-constituted BHC, the CDS approves:
    1. the allocation of battle honours;
    2. the award of honorary distinctions to units; and
    3. the perpetuation of combatant units who have earned a battle honour or honorary distinction in the field in accordance with established customs.
  3. The terminology, principles and criteria for the award of battle honours, as approved by the CDS, are listed in Section 2.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

  1. The Canadian group honour system draws on the rich heritage of the British forces. British battle honours originated with the army, which granted its first in 1695 and subsequently recognized honours as early as 1513 to the Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms. When the Royal Navy adopted official battle honours after The Second World War, it assessed and awarded laurels for all actions fought by its ships since the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588. Thus British naval and military honours have been granted for actions which have occurred all around the world and include several gained in Canada, such as “Louisburg, 1758” and “Niagara.”
  2. Prior to Confederation, British authorities awarded all battle honours. Only one such honour was earned by a unit of the Canadian Militia: “Niagara,” won by a battalion of Incorporated Militia in the War of 1812. The unit was disbanded in 1815.
  3. After Confederation, the Canadian Militia decided on and awarded its own honours. “Eccles Hill,” awarded for service in the Fenian Raids of 1870, is the oldest Canadian honour still carried by a Canadian regiment, although this unit, the Victoria Rifles of Canada, is now dormant on the Supplementary Order of Battle. The oldest honours won by active Canadian units are for the North West Rebellion of 1885.
  4. From The First World War to the amalgamation of the CF, the army subscribed to common battle honour lists developed by British Army committees, which included Canadian representatives, for imperial or Commonwealth contingents. Canadian authorities then assessed and allocated individual honours from these lists to our regiments.
  5. Artillery units (i.e. The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery), Engineer Branch units (successor to the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers) and Joint Task Force Two have no individual battle honours, but instead use the motto “UBIQUE,” meaning “everywhere.” This was awarded as an honorary distinction to “take the place of all past and future battle honours and distinctions gained in the field.”
  6. The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI), has the distinction of being awarded the United States’ (US) Distinguished Unit Citation, now called the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) (refer to paragraph 21.), to recognize its stand near Kapyong, Korea, on 24/25 April 1951. Equating to a battle honour, the Citation is represented by a streamer attached to the pike of the regimental Colour. The use of this streamer was authorized by King George VI, and is an honorary distinction of the battalion concerned. Although battle honours are awarded on a regimental basis, and the whole of the PPCLI carries “KAPYONG” on its regimental Colours, the distinction of bearing this streamer belongs to 2 PPCLI alone, in accordance with Canadian and American practice.
  7. Members of Joint Task Force Two also have the distinction of being awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy) for their extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance as part of the US Navy led “Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- South” in action against the enemy in Afghanistan from 17 October 2001 to 30 March 2002. In accordance with Canadian and American policy, only those members who were actually present and participated in the action for which the unit was cited are authorized to wear this distinction. The Citation is represented by a streamer that may be openly displayed in unit accommodation as a public distinction and as an historical artefact and memento of the award. This dress distinction is not a battle honour.
  8. Several other honorary distinctions have been awarded to individual regiments and flying squadrons, principally emblazoned badges carried on their Colours. Two current regiments wear a special distinction worthy of note. The shoulder badges of The Calgary Highlanders and The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) include oak leaves to commemorate the actions of the “10th and 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion(s),” Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), which they perpetuate, in Kitcheners’ Wood, an oak forest, on the night of 22/23 April 1915. These battalions were the first CEF units to attack a first-class European Power on European soil; the enemy had introduced poison gas on the Western Front for the first time; the counter-attack was completely successful; the enemy was driven from his position; the British 4.7 guns, previously taken by the Germans, were recaptured; the attack was a bayonet charge without appreciable support of any kind; and the casualties incurred were so severe as to be judged demoralizing to irregular troops. (The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, through their dual perpetuation of the 10th Battalion, are also entitled to wear an oak leaf badge, but have chosen not to do so.)
  9. Naval battle honours evolved in a different manner from those of the army. Until 1954, the selection and display of honours in Commonwealth navies was left in the hands of ships' commanding officers. Then, in a move to foster unit identity and esprit de corps among ships' companies, the Royal Navy developed official battle honours for all actions that could be assessed up to that time. These were assigned to ships' names and naval air squadrons, and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) subscribed to the same list. Unlike army and air force practice, in which Canadian units only claimed honours won by themselves or their perpetuated Canadian predecessors, the RCN considered itself, for these purposes, to be a part of a single King's Navy, sharing honours on a common list. Thus battle honours such as “ARMADA, 1588” and “QUEBEC, 1759” were assigned to Canadian ships. Only honours won by Canadian sailors are now allotted to new construction, but some ships and one former naval air squadron (880 Squadron), were assigned British battle honours after the Second World War and still carry them by right of continuous service from the RCN (refer to Annex B.)
  10. Canadian airmen fought as part of the British flying services in the First World War. There were no official air force battle honours allocated until after the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force drew up a list of battles to be honoured up to that date. The Royal Canadian Air Force subscribed to the British battle list, but modified one honour's designation and added three others to account for anti-submarine and ground attack missions flown from Canada and Alaska by the Home War Establishment.
  11. The long-standing army battle honour system greatly influenced those developed for the navy and air force, and helped ensure that equal service is similarly and equally honoured. Battle honours won by Canadian units are listed in Annex A to this chapter, and the battle honours allocated to individual ships, combat arms regiments, and flying squadrons are in A-AD-267-000/AF-002/3/4, Insignia and Lineages of the CF.

PERPETUATION

  1. Perpetuation is a uniquely Canadian system developed after the First World War to provide a formal means of preserving military operational honours and heritage for succeeding generations. It is government policy that disbanded units, which have gained an honour and/or distinction in the field, be perpetuated to preserve their memory. Disbanded units that have not gained an honour or distinction in the field shall not be perpetuated. Units perpetuated by disbanded units that are not eligible for perpetuation may, subject to the concurrence of the disbanded units' authorized or officially recognized association(s), be perpetuated by an extant unit.
  2. Perpetuation is a public declaration of a family inheritance from a distinguished Canadian ancestor, and entitles the perpetuating unit to the honours of its predecessor. Thus, although few Canadian regiments were mobilized as such for overseas service in the First World War, most have battle honours earned in the war.
  3. By naval and air force custom, ships and flying squadrons with the same name or number, respectively, as a predecessor on the Canadian order of battle automatically resume the lineage of the predecessor. (For flying squadrons, this custom does not apply if the earlier unit changed identity through amalgamation – the amalgamated unit continues the lineage and all rights and privileges.)

FOREIGN AWARDS TO CANADIAN UNITS

  1. In addition to their own system of battle honours, some allied countries award decorations to units or formations in recognition of service in operations. These and other unit awards might include the right, granted by the state giving the awards, for units to bear emblems or individuals to wear devices on their uniforms to denote the granting of the unit award.
  2. All foreign offers of unit awards in recognition of meritorious action during war shall be forwarded to NDHQ/DHH and for routine service other than war to Director Honours and Recognition. NDHQ must seek approval by Canadian honour authorities before any offer is accepted. The award of devices that can be affixed to Colours, such as streamers, must meet the same rigorous criteria as is followed for the award of battle honours. Before such devices can be affixed to Colours, the action or battle for which it was presented must be approved as a Canadian battle honour (refer to Section 2). The wearing of devices and emblems will be considered separately in accordance with Canadian traditions and customs.
  3. Currently, there are only two unit awards whose emblems are approved for wear on the CF uniform, the US Army and Navy Presidential Unit Citations (refer to paragraphs 13. and 14.). The regulations for displaying and wearing the emblems of this award in the CF are noted below.
  4. US Presidential Unit Citation. The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the US and its allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy, on or after 7 December 1941 for the US Army and on or after 16 October 1941 for the US Navy. The unit must display gallantry and determination in accomplishing its mission under hazardous conditions. It is rarely awarded to a unit larger than a ship, battalion or wing.
    1. Presidential Unit Citation (US Army).
      1. Award to Unit. A blue streamer or ribbon with the name of the action embroidered in white, 122 cm long and 7 cm wide, is awarded to the unit granted this honour and, if approved, is mounted on the pike of the regimental Colour. This streamer is known as the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer and is provided by the US Government.
      2. Award to Members of the Unit. An emblem, a ribbon of the same blue as the streamer, 3.5 cm wide by 1.3 cm long mounted within a rectangular gold wreath frame, is worn on both arms of authorized uniforms 6.5 cm below the shoulder seam in accordance with A-AD-265-000/AG-001, CF Dress Instructions. This emblem is known as the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) Emblem and is provided by the CF.
      3. Authority to Wear the Emblem.
        1. A member who was serving on the strength of a unit or permanently attached as on war establishment on the date of the action for which the Presidential Unit Citation was awarded, shall wear the uniform emblem permanently, whether serving with the unit or with some other unit or component of the CF.
        2. A member who is subsequently posted to the strength of a unit that has been awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, and who was not present with the unit at the time of the action, shall wear the uniform emblem temporarily, only while serving with the unit.
      4. Provision of Emblem. The original issue of the emblem was made to the unit concerned and to those members granted the permanent right to wear the award that were not serving with the unit at the time of issue. Further issues may be requested from NDHQ/DGLEPM (Director General Land Equipment Program Management). When a member ceases to be entitled to wear the emblem in accordance with sub-paragraph 25.a.(3)(b), the unit shall ensure that the emblem is withdrawn
    2. Presidential Unit Citation (US Navy).
      1. Award to Unit. A 91.5 cm long and 7  cm wide streamer or ribbon consisting (from top to bottom) of a 1.75  cm wide blue stripe, a 3.5 cm wide gold stripe and a 1.75 cm wide scarlet stripe, with the name of the action (if assigned) embroidered in white. This streamer is awarded to the cited unit, as well as all other units that served as part of or attached to a cited unit, which participated in one or more of the actions for which the named unit was cited, and, if approved, is mounted on the regimental Colour. This streamer is known as the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer and is provided by the US Government.
      2. Award to Members of the Unit. Only personnel permanently assigned or attached to the cited unit who were actually present and participated in the action(s) for which the unit was cited are authorized to be awarded the emblem. An emblem, a ribbon of the same color as the streamer, 3.5 cm wide by 1.3 cm long, is worn on both arms of authorized uniforms 6.5 cm below the shoulder seam in accordance with A-AD-265-000/AG-001, CF Dress Instructions. This emblem is known as the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy) Emblem and is provided by the CF. If the individual is also entitled to wear the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) (refer to paragraph 25.a.), it shall be worn 1.3 cm below the US Army citation.
      3. Authority to Wear the Emblem. A member who was awarded the emblem (refer to paragraph 25.b.(1)) shall wear the uniform emblem permanently, whether serving with the unit or with some other unit or component of the CF.
      4. Provision of Emblem. The original issue of the emblem was made to the unit members concerned. Further issues may be requested from NDHQ/DGLEPM (Director General Land Equipment Program Management).
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