The Return Of The Canadian Army Royal Canadian Navy And Royal Canadian Air Force
The restoration of the titles Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force reaffirms both Canada’s military heritage and the endurance of Canadian military tradition. While the army, based on the traditional British regimental system, has its roots in the 1800s, the younger navy (1910) and air force (1920), also established on British models, were granted “Royal” status in 1911 and 1924, respectively. Therefore, beginning before the Second World War, Canadian naval and air force personnel served within organizations structured on the hierarchy, traditions, and customs of their parental services in the United Kingdom.
This historical organization did not mean that the Canadian armed forces were mere extensions of their British counterparts. Rather, in the Second World War, Korean War, and peacekeeping missions, the three services distinguished themselves as Canadian forces, developing their own individual identities while maintaining the traditional monikers. Thus, much controversy surrounded the unification of the armed forces in 1968 and the formal end to distinct services and royal titles, with the army becoming known as Land Forces Command, the navy Maritime Command, and the air force Air Command.
These titles effectively remained in place until today. The change back to Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force is important because an entire generation of Canadian military veterans served under these traditional titles. Most of these veterans likely opposed the changes of 1968 and have ever since. Moreover, the common usage of the terms “army,” “navy,” and “air force” in public discussion reflects the traditional names, rather than the Canadian Forces’ more formal, internal terminology of, for example, “Air Command.” For veterans, the renewed titles represent the Canadian forces that fought in our country’s most significant conflicts of the twentieth century; for currently serving personnel, the change reinforces the already well-known history and traditions of their individual services and that they, too, by participating in efforts to bring peace to various areas of the contemporary world, are building on these histories and traditions.