Heritage Structure | Section 2 – The Principles and Eligibility Criteria for the Award of Canadian Forces Battle Honours


ChAll of Chapter 3 should be considered as being a change.

Table of contents

(Reprint of the 19 January 2007 Battle Honours Committee policy approved by the Chief of the Defence Staff)


  1. The aim of this document is to outline the principles and eligibility criteria followed for the award of Canadian Forces (CF) battle honours.


  1. The following battle honour terminology applies to this subject. Future battle nomenclature decisions must take into account modern usage of the below mentioned terms.
    1. “Theatre” means a broad scene or field of action in which campaigns and major operations are planned, conducted and sustained to accomplish strategic objectives. Activities at this level link tactics and strategy by establishing operational objectives. Theatre honours are awarded to eligible units for creditably performing an allotted task, which has contributed to the success of combat operations. While a theatre honour may be the sole recognition for that participation, it is also always awarded to units, which receive one or more battle honours in the theatre when these are awarded. For operational flying squadrons during the Second World War, the air force defined this as a “Primary Honour”, meaning a broad scene of action in which air campaigns and major air operations are conducted over a wide and indeterminable area, perhaps kilometres away from a sea and/or land battle, which it may be supporting, e.g. “FRANCE AND GERMANY, 1944-1945.”
    2. “Campaign” means a series of operations in one theatre area or with one objective, or forming the whole or a distinct part of a war, to achieve a specific military strategic objective.
    3. “Operation” means a movement of units for a military battle or campaign (normally provided a code-name).
    4. “Group of Battles” means a large operation encompassing several battles (used only for army operations in the First World War).
    5. “Battle” means an operation of some magnitude over a definable geographic area and over a protracted period. It is the most important single operation in a campaign. It is not applied to a series of disconnected and possibly lengthy operations, especially those not directed to the same immediate objective. However, some operations, perhaps not very extensive from the military point of view, assume an importance, often symbolic, in relation to the general situation or in the public eye, out of all proportion to their size and military significance, i.e. “KAPYONG.” In such cases each is considered strictly on its individual merits. The sub-components of a battle are further defined as:
      1. “Action” means an operation of lesser importance within a “battle”.
      2. “Engagement” means a particularly meritorious operation by units, normally as part of small (brigade) formations, that represents independent unit contributions toward the general plan.“Separate Action” means an operation of lesser importance when the fighting is more or less isolated and not within a “battle”.
      3. “Separate Action” means an operation of lesser importance when the fighting is more or less isolated and not within a “battle”.
      4. “Separate Engagement” means a particularly meritorious operation by units or small formations, sometimes representing independent unit contributions toward the general plan when the fighting is more or less isolated and not within a “battle”.
    6. “Subsidiary Honour” means an air battle, action, or engagement, e.g. “Normandy, 1944” (used only for operational flying squadrons).
    7. “Honorary Distinction” means those few badges or other devices specifically awarded to combatant units where a battle honour is not appropriate (such as, in the rarest circumstances, an additional special mark to honour operational activity where the unit exceeded normal battle honour parameters or, significantly reinforcing another unit for war causing the reinforcing unit to be no longer operationally capable).
    8. “Combatant Unit” (or authorized honour- bearing unit) means Her Majesty's Canadian (HMC) ships, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery (Artillery Branch), the Military Engineer Branch as a whole, armour and infantry regiments, and operational flying squadrons, i.e. those units whose functional purpose is to close with and conquer, neutralize or destroy the enemy as an effective fighting force. Other units may, through happenstance, find themselves involved in battle and for reasons of personal protection, be called upon to fight. Nevertheless, non-combatant units and their sub-units operating independently, operating as part of a formation, or attached to or in support of a combatant unit cannot gain battle honours for themselves or their parent unit.
    9. “Appointments” means those items of equipment, principally drums, badges, etc., on which battle honours and select honorary distinctions may be borne.
  2. The following organizational terminology applies to this subject.
    1. “Amalgamation” means the joining of two or more units into one (a kind of “marriage”) with the resulting unit being entitled to the combined honours and lineage of the amalgamated units (used only for army regiments and sub-units and air force squadrons).
    2. “Disbanded.”
      1. For HMC ships it means “paid off,” although the ship's honours and lineage are assumed by any new Canadian construction assigned the same name (refer to paragraph 36.).
      2. For combat arms regiments it means a unit, which has ceased to exist in any form, although its honours may be inherited by a later unit, which officially perpetuates the disbanded one. Upon disbandment the unit's lineage permanently ceases.
      3. For operational flying squadrons it means a unit, which has ceased to exist in any form, although its honours and lineage are inherited by a later squadron assigned the same numerical designation.
    3. “Perpetuation” means the inheritance and preservation of the identity, fighting traditions, and honours of disbanded units, which have gained an honour and/or honorary distinction in the field of battle.
  3. Although the generic term “battle honour” commonly applies to all categories of group honours, there are in fact three distinct and separate categories. They are: the “Theatre Honour”; the various types of “Battle Honour;” and the “Honorary Distinction.” Furthermore, the generic term “Colour” applies to: ship battle honour boards; regimental Standards, and Guidons; and air squadron Standards.


  1. The Canadian battle 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. Prior to the First World War, Canada subscribed to common battle honour lists developed through the British War Office. Although after the conclusion of the First World War, Canada was solely responsible for the regulations governing our own forces, we were full participants, with all decisions being unanimous, on subsequent British or Commonwealth Battles Nomenclature Committees (BNC). Canadian Army authorities, through a specially constituted Battle Honours Committee (BHC), then assessed and allocated applicable honours from these lists to our regiments. There were no official air force battle honours allocated until after the Second World War, when the Royal Air Force (RAF) drew up a list of battles to be honoured up to that date. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 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.
  2. Naval battle honours evolved in a different manner from those of the army. Naval honours are the most recent, only dating from late 1954; before then only unofficial honours existed. Although the navy generally followed the pattern already established by the other services, it differed in three significant ways: the honours were determined administratively by the Royal Navy (RN) historian based on the historical record, rather than by a separately-established honours committee; they were approved in London by the First Sea Lord (Chief of the Naval Staff) rather than the Sovereign; and they posited on a shared system among all ships of the various Royal navies as if part of a single, national order of battle. Thus, unlike army and air force practice, in which Canadian units only claimed honours won by themselves or their perpetuated Canadian predecessors, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) considered itself, for these purposes, to be a part of a single “King’s Navy”, sharing honours on the common list developed in London. Thus battle honours such as “ARMADA, 1588” were assigned to Canadian ships bearing the names of previous RN ships that had been awarded these honours.
  3. In concept, the act of unification amalgamated the honours systems of the RCN, Canadian Army, and the RCAF. When the three service honours systems were amalgamated, the status and formal procedures associated with those of the army and air force were continued for the whole of the CF. Principally, this consists of formal consideration and recommendation by duly constituted committees and approval by the Sovereign’s representative, the Governor General.


  1. Canadian unit honours include battle honours and honorary distinctions. Battle honours are awarded to provide public recognition to combatant military units for active participation in battle against a formed and armed enemy. All battle honours are considered equal.  The  CF  system  is  based on “world war” (declared war) precedents,  with necessary amendments made to admit the possibility of action undertaken by Canada  under the United Nations Charter, the North Atlantic  Treaty or any other similar instrument for collective defence entered into by Canada – by the UN General Assembly’s uniting for peace (Korea), and by the UN Security Council (Gulf War), for example.
  2. The subject of battle honours is one in which those concerned can have profound and disparate opinions but it is important that the aspects of tradition and sentiment not be lightly set aside. It is of prime importance that past honours retain their value. This can be achieved by ensuring that rules for any award be not only strict but also strictly applied. Proposals of an extreme or controversial nature must be and have always been avoided.
  3. Battles Nomenclature Committee. When the actions being considered extend over a protracted period and are of a multitudinous nature, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), on the advice of Chief Military Personnel (CMP), may order that a specifically-constituted BNC be formed with the responsibility of conducting a comprehensive historical review of all theatres of operation, campaigns, battles, engagements and actions and, with this information, select, and classify the names and general conditions of award of each battle, which deserves to be honoured. The criteria used by a BNC to recommend a battle worthy of honour follows principles detailed in paragraphs 17. and 18., along with such other criteria as determined by the committee when it is convened. A BNC submits a Report of the Battles Nomenclature Committee, in both official languages, which will include an Official List of Battles, Actions and Engagements, to the CDS. The Governor-General approves the List on behalf of the Sovereign.
  4. Battle Honours Committee. After the Governor General's approval of the battle honour(s), a specifically-constituted BHC is formed. In accordance with the BNC's report and CF policy, this committee will discuss and identify those units eligible for the honour(s) and any limits on its allocation. The number of battle honours allocated depends on the number of battles, not on some arbitrary conception of how many honours there should be. If necessary, the committee will submit their report, through the chain of command, to all concerned units and will reconvene as necessary to discuss and make recommendations on suggested amendments, corrections or additions. The Report of the Battles Honours Committee, in both official languages, will then be forwarded to the CDS.
  5. Outside of large-scale wars, the BHC acts as both the BNC and BHC. In such cases, the BHC recommends the names of battle honours, through the CDS to the Governor General for approval. The Committee also recommends to the CDS:
    1. the allocation of approved battle honours;
    2. the allocation of perpetuations; and
    3. the granting of “honour-bearing status” to CF units.
  6. It is CF policy, reiterated as recently as 1998 by the Minister of National Defence, to not alter previous BNC or BHC committee decisions unless it can be conclusively proven that they did not possess all relevant and necessary information.
  7. Unit Committees. If required, the BNC/BHC may request units form their own honours committees. These committees will consider: the draft list of available honours and claim those it considers appropriate; determine from the approved unit honours those that will be emblazoned, where such emblazonment is limited; and initiate a claim for any honour from the list approved by the Governor General, which was not included in the draft allocation list to which the unit considers it has an entitlement. Each claim thus submitted will have to be accompanied by strong supporting evidence.
  8. The CDS is the approving authority for:
    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.
  9. Composition of Committees.
    1. The BNC is structured as follows:
      1. Chairman – flag/general officer of at least rear-admiral/major-general rank selected by the CDS.
      2. Members – flag/general officers representing commands who have honour-bearing units, commanders of wartime formations and DHH.
      3. Recording Secretary – provided by DHH.
      4. Ex-officio – officers who give oral or written evidence and advice.
    2. The BHC is structured as follows:
      1. Chairman – flag/general officer selected by the CDS.
      2. Members – officers of at least captain (N)/colonel rank representing commands who have honour-bearing units and DHH (or the Chief Historian DHH).
      3. Recording Secretary – provided by DHH.
      4. Ex-officio – officers who give oral or written evidence and advice.
    3. Unit committees will consist of not less than five members. Bearing in mind the practicality of conducting the business of the committee, the chairman and members will be found by invitation from the following:
      1. present and past commanding officers (it is desirable to obtain the services of former commanding officers of the wartime unit) and former commanding officers of any amalgamated unit, if applicable;
      2. other officers who served in or are still serving in the wartime unit; and
      3. honorary colonels and lieutenant- colonels, and unit chief petty officers 1st class/chief warrant officers (it is desirable to obtain the services of former chief petty officers 1st class/chief warrant officers of the wartime unit).
  10. Principles. The CF battle honour system attempts to incorporate all previous award conditions enjoyed by the three former services with minor amendments to ensure equatability of allocation. For example:
    1. All authorized honour-bearing units are eligible to be awarded a “theatre honour” based on the same CF criteria and nomenclature. For example, while the RCAF considered the operations in the Aleutian theatre (1942 to 1943), the RN list did not. In 1994, the CDS awarded five RCN ships the honour “ALEUTIANS” (with applicable year dates) based on the RCAF honour.
    2. Based on the Canadian Army and RCAF system, year dates are now only used to differentiate between separate engagements and battles, or when a campaign covers more than one year, and it is desirable to indicate when units were phased into or out of battle.
    3. Existing reserve division ships continue to bear Commonwealth honours by right of continuous service until they are paid off. Newly constructed and named reserve divisions may only be awarded battle honours won by Canadian ships on the Canadian order of battle.
    4. All battle honours are bilingual. Honour- bearing units with bilingual titles (all HMC ships and flying squadrons) emblazon/inscribe their honours in both official languages. Existing colours and other items are unaffected and remain unchanged as historic artifacts. The policy is only implemented for new items created. The exception to this policy is for those few units, which have the authority and traditional right to maintain unilingual titles (armoured and infantry regiments formed pre-1968). For example, if a new regiment were to be formed, it would be required to have a bilingual title and emblazon bilingual honours. Brevity is an important consideration when new honours are recommended. The RCAF honour ENGLISH CHANNEL AND NORTH SEA/MANCHE ET MER DU NORD (with applicable year dates) would be an example of an honour that is difficult to emblazon.
    5. Operational air squadrons are now eligible to be awarded honorary distinctions. HMC ships, as self-contained units, are not eligible for “Type 2” distinctions (refer  to  paragraph 28.b.).
  11. Although criteria for the award of honours have evolved from time to time to cater to circumstances presented by each war or conflict, the basic principle has remained constant: to publicly commemorate a battle or campaign, the memory of which will be a constant source of pride for the unit involved. Other fundamental principles are to:
    1. give just recognition for outstanding achievement in battle;
    2. avoid cheapening awards by over-generous recommendations;
    3. keep the relative size of the operational commitment and the combat conditions of a war or campaign in perspective when assigning the type and number of awards; and
    4. ensure that all eligible units, which honourably participated in an action being commemorated, are recognized equally as comrades-in-arms. The relative involvement of units shall not be graded, nor one of a team, which fought together, be set or left apart from the others.
  12. Criteria. Eligibility criteria recognized the different conditions under which ships, regiments, and flying squadrons fight. For example, a vessel's hull ensures that a ship participates in each battle as a complete, single unit. Regiments, on the other hand, may be composed of more than one battalion-sized unit, each with several sub-units, all fighting in widely- separated locations. Flying squadrons carry out missions with one or many of their aircraft, and fly simultaneous missions over a very large expanse of territory. Differences in the size and type of engagements are recognized by honouring separate engagements, campaigns or general operations, and theatres or areas of conflict.
  13. The post First World War British BNC regarded their task as a largely historical one and did not “expect their List of operations to be regarded as necessarily an Honours List.” This changed with the Second World War Commonwealth BNC, which “expressly worked with the object of ensuring that every operation listed shall be deemed worthy of commemoration as a battle honour.”
  14. “The award of a Theatre Honour should not merely result from the fortuitous presence of a unit, which contributed nothing to the furtherance of the campaign.” In addition to a unit meeting the general criterion of being present in a theatre for at least one day, “it must have creditably performed an allotted task”. For example, units in transit, who may have spent a day or more in theatre, will not be eligible for the award of an honour, as they have not been posted into the theatre or on its order of battle.
  15. Originally, honours were never given for a defeat, an inconclusive action or a withdrawal, but exception is now made in those few special cases when such action is felt to reflect honourably upon the units and the nation; e.g. “Dieppe,” and “Hong Kong.”
  16. Casualties may indicate heavy fighting, however, at the same time skilfully executed operations may involve comparatively few casualties. Thus, heavy casualties (or the lack of them) are not normally taken into account for their own sake.
  17. Canadian civil conflicts are not entitled to be recognized.
  18. Display of Honours. Battle honours are emblazoned in the sequence prescribed by military (in the order in which they were awarded) and heraldic custom. This gives precedence to the front on top of a display, and to the right-of-the-line (left as seen by an observer facing the display). When a battle honour list is displayed on both sides of a central device for a balanced effect, the honours are placed in two columns in their order of precedence, commencing at the top left as seen from the front and alternating from the left to right downwards. If the number of honours is sufficient, they may be displayed in four, rather than two columns, the order of precedence being across each of the four columns, commencing at the top left as seen from the front. When there are an odd number of honours to be shown, the last honour is placed in the centre below any central device or motto scroll. Where two honours have simultaneous chronology, theatre or primary honours are listed before subsidiary ones within the theatre. Though type-face varies in some written records to indicate the type of battle honour for historical purposes, all honours are considered equal in recognition. Therefore, they are all emblazoned equally in capital letters on Colours, honour boards and regimental appointments. Air squadrons and combat arms regiments are restricted on the number of honours they may emblazon on their Colours. These restrictions were put in place as a result of available space on the various types of Colours or as a result of the large number of awards allocated during the World Wars. In future, a similar regulation may have to be developed for HMC ships.
  19. Apart from the specific naval exception addressed in paragraphs 17.c., 34. and 35., a unit may only bear honours granted in its own right. Those of previous Canadian units may only be emblazoned if authorized by formal perpetuation in accordance with established Canadian traditions and practice. Thus, no Canadian claim is allowed for operations conducted by personnel who were seconded, posted or attached to the other allied forces.
  20. Units are allowed to emblazon their new honours on their Colours as soon as practicable. In the majority of cases this is when new Colours are produced. However, Colours are only reproduced when they are no longer serviceable and the serviceability of Colours is directly related to their usage. A unit, which rarely parades its Colours, would not be authorized replacement as often as a unit, which does. Air squadrons are only authorized the issue of a Standard after 25 years (continuous or aggregate) service. All extant squadrons have met this requirement. Single honours or distinctions can be emblazoned onto existing Colours if there is space to do so. In this case the unit will be requested to forward their Colour to DHH for inspection and emblazonment at government expense. Colours so altered must not be re-consecrated or re-presented as once they have that status, they retain it forever. Although there are no ceremonial procedures designed to mark the emblazonment of new battle honours or honorary distinctions, a unit parade or a trooping the Colour ceremony would be appropriate if the unit wishes to celebrate the event. HMC ships have their battle honour boards constructed as part of the ship construction process. Requests to change emblazoned selections must originate from the unit and be approved by the Inspector of Canadian Forces Colours and Badges on the recommendation of the branch advisor and the environmental commander.
  21. Honorary Distinctions. There are two categories of “honorary distinctions”:
    1. Type 1. This type of distinction is accorded in rare and exceptional cases to authorized honour-bearing units as a mark of special favour, as seen from the perspective of total war. These distinctions authorize a unit the right to wear on the uniform or emblazon on the Colour special commemorative badges or devices. For example:
      1. the shoulder badges of The Calgary Highlanders and The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) include oak leaves marking the actions of the 10th and 16th Battalions, 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 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; and
      2. the motto “UBIQUE” was confirmed by the CDS in 1994 as “an honorary distinction to take the place of all past and future battle honours and distinctions gained in the field.” He also directed that the motto be “preserved for this use” and “that future use of the motto will be reserved for organizations, which meet like combatant criteria.” The motto has been awarded to the Artillery Branch/Branche de l'artillerie (i.e. The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery) (RCA) and the Military Engineering Branch/Branche du Génie. The organizational evolution of the Military Engineering Branch is different than that of the RCA, which is a combatant “regiment.” The Engineer Branch raises functional regiments but it also includes construction engineering units, which do not constitute part of the combatant “line”. Further, the branch includes engineers from other pre-unification services, not just the obsolete Canadian Army. However, policy is that honours previously granted continue into the unified CF.
    2. Type 2. This type of distinction originated with the army during the Second World War. It is now awarded to authorized honour- bearing units for significantly reinforcing another wartime combatant unit. To be eligible for consideration it must be proven that the unit, as a result of the reinforcement, helped form a “composite” unit and was no longer operationally capable (for operational air squadrons this means aircrew and ground crew) and that the reinforcements subsequently participated in a battle, which was accorded an honour. This distinction normally authorizes the unit to emblazon the badge, with applicable year date(s), of the reinforced unit. For the Second World War, five distinctions of this type were awarded. During the Gulf War, two air squadrons were afforded an honorary distinction. Although the definition of “no longer operationally capable” can be subjective, the contribution should be at least 50% of the unit's strength with the result that the unit is unable to function as a combatant unit for the duration of the war. Furthermore, the reinforcement must have been made directly to a unit without intermediary involvement, i.e. members cannot be sent through a reinforcement holding or training unit, and the reinforcements must have been committed to battle within six months. Units, which are processed through an intermediary organization but which have been previously “ear marked” for the reinforcement of another unit, are deemed to be direct transfers.
  22. Honorary distinctions being presented to two or more units for the same criterion shall be of the same design or common mark. All foreign offers of unit awards shall be forwarded, through the chain-of- command, to NDHQ/DHH for approval by Canadian honour authorities before being accepted. If approved, the wearing of devices and emblems will be considered separately in accordance with Canadian traditions and customs.
  23. Perpetuation. Perpetuation is a unique Canadian system, which provides a means of preserving military operational honours for succeeding generations. The system was developed by the post- First World War BHC and the Army Historical Section to safeguard the record of service of CEF units. Only Canadian combatant units, which have gained an honour and/or distinction in the field, may be perpetuated, and only serving units with a proven link to the previous one can claim and be awarded the honour of perpetuation. The guidelines, which were officially approved by the Minister, have changed little over the years:
    1. Where a connection can be established, whether generic, territorial or titular, it is desirable that honour-bearing units now existing or to be raised in future should perpetuate Canadian honour-bearing units of the past.
    2. Where a connection is established between an active unit and a defunct or disbanded unit, no limits should be set to the time elapsed between the disbanding of the former unit and the raising of the present unit.
    3. Where a territorial connection only is established and where two or more active units now recruit within that territory, perpetuation should be offered to active units in order of date of raising. Only in exceptional cases may a dual perpetuation be warranted.
    4. It is policy to perpetuate the memory of predecessor units.
  24. Perpetuation rules were designed to find the most suitable match for disbanded units. This provided a strong family link and “local” meeting point for former soldiers of the perpetuated unit and avoided unnecessary conflicts amongst units who wished to perpetuate the same unit. The perpetuation of HMC ships and operational air squadrons by ships and squadrons of the same name or designation is automatic. Although never authorized, it is conceivable that a squadron could perpetuate another squadron of a different designation. However, any new squadron afforded the former unit's designation would not be entitled to its honours and lineage.
  25. Perpetuation is the primary means of institutionalizing the memory of the deeds and sacrifices made by those military personnel who contributed to unique periods in Canada's military history. The perpetuating unit becomes the official 'safe-keeper' of this heritage for them all. While the perpetuating unit assumes the honours it does not inherit the lineage of the perpetuated unit.
  26. Composite and ad hoc Units. The Canadian military's historical penchant for changing unit identification and composition prior to deployment complicates the allocation of honours after hostilities. Canadian practice considers that air squadrons and regiments form the basic building block of ad hoc task groups/forces and only they can be considered for an honour. Although ad hoc regiments or squadrons can be considered for honours, their honours can only be afforded to existing units through perpetuation. Although other units may contribute major portions of their combat strength to augment in-theatre units, they might only be considered for a joint battle honour if more than 50% of their combat strength is detached for augmentation.


  1. Naval Service. Six types of service are accepted for the award of naval battle honours:
    1. fleet, flotilla, squadron or task force actions,
    2. single ship or boat service actions (battle honours may be named after destroyed enemy vessels B e.g. HMCS Unicorn has the honour “Vestale, 1761” – and indicated in orders by printing them in a lowercase letter in quotation marks, but because of the conditions of modern combat, this practice is now rare),
    3. major bombardments – but only if there is appreciable opposition on the part of the enemy,
    4. combined operations, but, for actions prior to the Second World War, only when a large number of sailors or marines were landed to help the army, e.g. the British battle honour “Havana, 1762” – in cases where the navy had little to do beyond the safe conveyance of the troops to the point of attack, with the support fire from the ships being no more than a minor contribution to the success of the operation, a naval battle honour is not awarded,
    5. participation in a campaign,
    6. participation in a combat theatre of operations.
  2. Battle honours are allocated to the name of the ship which won them, not to the physical hull. Thus, when a ship is renamed, the battle honours belonging to the new designation are assumed, and an entitlement to those belonging to the former name ceases. New ships automatically perpetuate former ships of the same name on the Canadian order of battle, and gain the right to any honours won by the former ships.
  3. It was the practice in the RCN to award new ships the battle honours won by any predecessor of the same name on a common Commonwealth list for all the Royal navies. While existing ships (and one air squadron) continue to bear such honours by right of continuous service until they are paid off, new construction is awarded only those battle honours won by Canadian ships on a Canadian order of battle.
  4. In order for a ship to qualify for an authorized battle honour, the ship must have been “present” at the engagement. Modern fleet or task force actions are often fought as sea-air battles at long range entirely out of visual contact. The definition of “present” in an action is now defined as being “at sea under the direct orders of the senior officers controlling the operation”, although some ships identified as being present in a battle may not have actually opened fire on the enemy.
  5. Army Service. Army battle honours are allocated for theatres, campaigns, battles and actions, including groups of battles of the First World War and engagements of the Second. These differences are indicated in orders by the type in which they are printed. For the World Wars, these are:
    1. Upper-case type:
      1. The First World War –
        1. groups of battles (each listed before the battles, actions, etc., which comprise the group); and
        2. theatres of war (listed at the end of all battle honours for the First World War);
      2. The Second World War –
        1. battles (each listed before the actions, engagements, etc., which comprise the battle); and
        2. theatres (listed after the battles, actions, engagements, etc.); and
    2. Lower-case type:
      1. The First World War. Battles, actions, etc. (listed after their groups of battles); and
      2. The Second World War. Actions, engagements, separate actions, and separate engagements (listed after their battles).
  6. Honours may  be  awarded  in  respect  of service to armoured and infantry regiments. Rifle regiments, who are not entitled by custom to carry Colours, are entitled to bear  honours on appointments.
  7. Battle honours are awarded on a regimental basis and all such honours of a regiment are equally the property of all units of the regiment; however, Reserve Force regiments, which bear the designation of a Regular Force regiment as a secondary title only, e.g. The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry), are considered as separate regiments for the award and display of honours.
  8. Where an otherwise eligible unit served in or has been converted to a non-honour-bearing unit it will not be awarded honours. However, if such a unit is subsequently reconverted to honour-bearing status it may claim any honours earned by its wartime unit as a result of services in an armoured or infantry role and the award of an honorary distinction such as a badge representative of the arm with which it served. Claims must fulfil the conditions of the qualifying rules for battle or theatre honours. DHH keeps a register of honours awarded to infantry and armoured regiments that have been converted to artillery or engineer units.
  9. A battle honour will not be awarded merely because a unit was present in an operation. To qualify the unit must:
    1. have been committed in the locality and within the time limits laid down for one of the individual operations defined below;
    2. have been actively engaged with enemy ground troops;
    3. have taken a creditable part in operations; and
    4. be proud of its part in the operation.
  10. A regiment can only be considered for an honour if its headquarters and at least 50% of its sub- units are present. Two particular extensions of this rule are authorized:
    1. Where units fight on a squadron or company basis, with squadrons or companies attached to brigades or battalions for operations, honours may be awarded where 50% of the unit's squadrons or companies were engaged without their regimental or battalion headquarters. Where a unit has sub-units committed simultaneously to different operations, only one award will be made covering any one period of time.
    2. Where a regiment is represented in a theatre only by a squadron or company operating under the control of another unit, or operating independently, honours may be awarded on the basis of 50% of the troops or platoons so deployed being present in battle. Where such troops or platoons are committed simultaneously to different operations, only one award will be made covering any one period of time.
  11. An honorary distinction will, if awarded to a unit (battalion) of a regiment, be peculiar to that unit and not the whole regiment.
  12. Operational Air Squadron Service. A squadron can only be considered for a battle honour if its headquarters and at least 50% of its combat capability (aircrew not ground crew) are present. The one extension of this rule is that battle honours may be awarded when for operational reasons – which occur in theatre during the applicable qualifying dates, such as losses during battle – a squadron provides more than 50% of its combat capability and is combined with another squadron(s) under one or the other units' headquarters. Where a squadron has flights committed simultaneously to different actions/engagements, only one award will be made covering any one period of time.
  13. Generally, geographical names are used for theatre honours and place names for battle honours. However, place names alone may be insufficient to identify an air battle. In certain cases it may be necessary to use a role as a battle honour, e.g. DEFENCE OF BRITAIN, 1940-1945.
  14. Squadrons that fly missions of a purely administrative nature are not entitled to honours. For example, no Korean War honours were awarded to 426 (Transport) Squadron, which operated out of Japan and only had six administrative trips to South Korea. The three RAF squadrons that received the “Korea” honour flew patrols during the war but since they were not involved in confrontation with the enemy the honour is not authorized for emblazonment.
  15. Account is taken of the fact that some squadrons may be renumbered in wartime with no break in service. In these cases, the redesignated squadron retains the right to their old honours, which are considered transferred along with the redesignation.
  16. New flying squadrons automatically perpetuate disbanded Canadian squadrons with the same number. DHH tracks lineages and honours for these purposes.


  1. When a battle honour is granted to units of only one command, it is that command's responsibility to coordinate all media advisories. When honours are allocated to units of more than one command, it is the responsibility of CMP to coordinate media advisories.
  2. In November 1993, Government House issued a media advisory on the subject of the Gulf and Kuwait battle honour and a formal event was organized to mark the occasion during the Order of Military Merit investiture ceremony. During the CDS's speech at Government House, he thanked the Governor General for so honouring the CF with the creation of the battle honour for the Gulf War. The intent of the ceremony was to build synergism among media attention for both events. Government House also organized a formal signing ceremony for a proclamation document in early 1994 as a means of providing a photo opportunity for TV cameras and photographers. This Proclamation was the first document of its kind. The CDS directed his Executive Assistant (EA) to coordinate, through the EA network, the display of the document in a showcase at each Command headquarters for a three month period, in recognition of Canada's and the CF's “indebtedness to those who participated and risked their lives during that conflict.”
  3. The CDS directed that public affairs staff as part of the phased allocation and announcement process draft a media communication plan.
    1. the creation of a DND Communications Plan,
    2. preliminary message from CDS to commanders of Commands informing them of the approval of the award and outlining the steps to be followed,
    3. promulgation of a CANFORGEN to coincide with the Government House Media Advisory and any supplementary announcements by Commanders of Commands,
    4. recognition of the award by the Commanders of Commands at events organized at their discretion.
  4. Honours awarded to disbanded units will be promulgated as a matter of record.

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