THE FAMED 1ST CANADIAN INFANTRY DIVISION – THE RED PATCH BOYS
The 1st Canadian Infantry Division was a formation first mobilized on September 1, 1939 for service in the Second World War, even before the formal declaration of war.
The division was first deployed to the UK, crossing the Atlantic in two main convoys at the end of 1939.
Upon arrival in Britain the division quickly realized that they were far from being properly equipped for action, as most of the artillery and machine guns on hand were deemed obsolete, and there was a severe shortage of steel helmets to outfit the troops.
It wasn’t until midway through the year 1940 that a full compliment of more modern weapons, equipment and transport had finally arrived.
In the wake of the famous Dunkirk evacuation, the Canadian troops were ordered to France in June of 1940. After arriving on the continent, their initial stay was to be short. The division was ordered back to England, where they would train for three more years, before finally heading to the Mediterranean in July of 1943.
After taking part in the assault landing on Sicily, the troops then moved on to Calabria, and ventually fought it’s way up the Italian peninsula from Ortona, to the Senio, earning an excellent reputation along the way.
The division was forced to stop its advance at the banks of the Senio in December of 1944 due to the wet Italian winter. They were finally moved from Italy in March of 1945, finishing their war efforts in the Netherlands with the First Canadian Army detachment.
It was in 1941, that the detachment first adopted the “red rectangular patch” that would become their trademark. It was actually the enemy German troops who coined the nickname “Red Patch Devils” in light of their brave and ferocious fighting style.
Lead by such notable commanders as Guy Simonds and Chris Vokes, the Red Patch Devils reflected the type of fighting spirit, and perseverance under pressure, that we hope our future TFC teams will embrace.