Royal Canadian Navy


Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve)

Ratings' Badges


As previously stated the Canadian Navy was subject to tremendous growth during World War II largely in the ranks of the RCNVR but in the regular force (RCN) as well. After the War most of the RCNVR personnel returned to their civilian lives while a small number 'rolled over' to the regular force. This saw Canada with a much larger navy than the 1939 pre-war version and there were many dissatisfiers in that navy. One of the major issues on the lower deck, was the lack of a Canadian identity. Prior to 1950 enlisted personnel in the RCN wore badges identical to those used in the Royal Navy. In fact other than the 'C' in a sailor's cap tally and the Canada flashes on the shoulders, there was no outward difference between the RCN uniform and that of the RN.

To address one of the issues Naval authorities introduced changes to the Canadian sailor's uniform. While the cap and rank badges remained unchanged a whole series of trade, specialty and trade group badges were introduced. The chart below depicting the new Canadian badges was first published in a 1950 issue of the Crowsnest  the RCN's monthly magazine from 1948-1965.  

Should you wish to see the illustration in more detail including the titles, please click on the chart.

These badges were worn in 3 distinctive colour combinations. The red on black background (shown above) were for the number 2 (going ashore) uniform and number 3 (working sailor suit) uniform. A gold on black background badge was worn on the number 1 (divisions/parade) uniform. Finally a blue on white background badge was worn on the number 11 (whites) uniform. 

Note: The latter badge can also be found in a black on white background and used for the same purpose as the blue on white.


Trade badges were worn by all ranks from Ordinary Seaman to Chief Petty Officer 1st class. For men below the rank of Chief Petty Officer 2nd class they were worn on the right sleeve mid way between the elbow and the shoulder. Chief Petty Officers wore their trade badges on the points of the collar, one on each side. These badges were identical to those worn by the Petty Officers and below but half the size.

Badges of rank were worn on the left arm in the same position as the trade badge for Petty Officers and below. While Chief Petty Officers wore rank designation on each  arm but at the cuff level.

Specialty badges such as marksman, diver and bugler were worn on the right sleeve 3 inches above the bottom of the cuff. The submariner's 'dolphin' qualification badge was worn on the left sleeve also 3 inches above the bottom of the cuff.

Note: Only one specialty badges for marksman, bugler and diver could be worn at any time regardless of the number earned.

Additional badges were added to the 'collection' as the trade structure, and specialties such as submariner, of the RCN evolved. As well the names of the trades changed over time and depending whether the badge was in regular force (RCN) or reserve force (RCN(R)) usage. These badges remained in use until the unification of the services in 1968 and the issue of the green uniforms in the early 70's at which time trade badges were no longer used.