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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs
Ottawa, Ontario — The first colour most would associate with the Canadian Army (CA) is green but, in light of a new change in dress policy, some CA members will be wearing dark blue or khaki berets.
In total, 16,000 new berets will be issued in a process that began in March 2019.
The dark blue berets are a shade known officially as “Army Blue” and are being issued to members of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery (RCA), Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME), Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS), and Canadian Intelligence Corps (C Int C).
“We Gunners are honoured by the restoration of our distinctive blue beret and look forward to wearing it proudly alongside our RCCS, RCEME and C Int C comrades-in-arms,” said Brigadier-General (Retired) J.J. Selbie, Colonel Commandant of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.
Those being issued the blue berets are authorized to wear them with all Orders of Dress, which include formal ceremonial wear and operational dress, both in the field and in garrison.
Red and scarlet a part of historical identity
Army Blue is a dark shade but lighter than the almost-black worn by CA members in the post-Second World War period. It is also not quite as dark as the traditional Royal Blue, which is worn by many Corps and Regiments as facings on their formal Mess Dress and often mistaken for black.
Army Blue was chosen by a team of Corps Sergeants Major and CA heritage experts, who wanted to ensure a traditional look and feel was maintained. Compatibility with the current Army Service Dress uniform was also a consideration.
Dark blue is a key component of the CA’s historical identity. During the Victorian era, scarlet tunics were worn as Field Dress and blue was the colour of almost everything else. As the first ‘technical’ Corps developed, The RCA and RCEME chose to highlight their distinct identities by wearing more blue. With the later emergence of the RCCS and RCEME, they naturally also adopted blue as an identifying colour.
The initiative to re-adopt Army Blue berets was led by The RCA. After some discussion, the RCEME and RCCS also submitted requests to return to this traditional colour. The newly reformed C Int C also requested it.
The new berets are a reinforcement of C Int C’s distinct identity. It operated under that name from 1942 until 1968 when, as part of the merging of the Army, Navy, and Air Force under the single Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) banner, it was incorporated into the CAF-wide Intelligence Branch. It was re-named Canadian Intelligence Corps in 2016 – part of a wider trend which has seen it and other Corps adopt historic names.
Khaki berets for the Foot Guard Regiments
Additionally, khaki berets are being issued to the CA’s Foot Guard Regiments – the Governor General’s Foot Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Wear of the khaki berets by Foot Guard members is limited to Combat Dress, as these Regiments wear a Forage Cap with all other Orders of Dress. A Forage Cap is a peaked cap worn during parade and other dress occasions instead of a beret.
In the discussions on new berets, members of the Foot Guard Regiments considered staying with their current green or adopting either Army Blue or khaki. They opted for the latter to recognize their unique role as the only Household Regiments in Canada supporting the Queen’s representative, Her Excellency the Governor General.
The choice is also an acknowledgement of strong historical connections to the British Household Regiments, which adopted khaki berets in the 1970s.
“The Guards are privileged to adopt the khaki beret affirming our role as Household Troops in support of the Queen’s representative in Canada, Her Excellency the Governor General,” said Colonel R.M. Foster, the senior serving Guards officer. “We stand shoulder to shoulder alongside the other corps and branches of the Canadian Army in operational dress with distinctive berets.”