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Banner: From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History


Canadian Military History: An Overview
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Canadian Military History: An Overview
Personal Stories

Officers' Lists

Published officer's lists can be invaluable in recreating the career of a military officer, whether he be in the Canadian armed forces, a Canadian serving in the British forces or a British officer in Canada. It must be emphasized that these lists do not include enlisted men; their purpose was to record the seniority of individual officers publicly. Use of the lists covering a period of years will show promotions and transfers and eventual retirement. Some lists, such as the Defence forces list, Canada or Hart's annual army list, are also rich in personal detail. Note that the British lists also included officers of the Canadian armed forces while Canada was still a colony.

The advent of the computer has meant the end of a celebrated but idiosyncratic tradition of very useful officers' lists. This was first seen in The Royal Canadian Air Force list, which gave nothing more than name, rank, serial number, date of seniority and date of birth. The Canadian Forces officers' list, published annually since integration of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1965, gives no more detail than that. Using it involves privacy issues, because of the inclusion of birth dates for officers who are still alive and serving, and, for many years, social insurance numbers, which were also used as service numbers. For these reasons the researcher may not find it readily available in libraries.

Canada. Air Force. - The Canadian Air Force list. - Ottawa: King's Printer, [1921?]-[1922?]

_____. - The Royal Canadian Air Force list. - Ottawa: [s.n.], 1924-1966.

  • Frequency varies.
  • Issued in mimeographed form until 1942.

Canada. Dept. of Militia and Defence. - The militia list. - Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1867-1929.

  • Title and frequency vary, e.g. - The annual volunteer and service militia list of Canada (1867) or - The quarterly militia list of the Dominion of Canada (1900).
  • Superseded by Defence forces list, Canada.

Canada. Dept. of National Defence. - The Canadian Army list. - Ottawa: King's Printer, 1940-1966.

  • Title varies, e.g. - Gradation list, Canadian Army Active (1940-1945); - Canadian Army (Regular) list (1959-1966).
  • Annual.

_____. - Defence forces list, Canada (naval, military and air forces). - Ottawa: King's Printer, 1930-1939.

  • Title varies somewhat. Supersedes The militia list. Superseded by The Canadian Navy list, The Canadian Army list and The Royal Canadian Air Force list.

Canada. Dept. of the Naval Service. - The Canadian Navy list. - Ottawa: King's Printer, 1914-1965.

  • Issued by the Dept. of National Defence from 1923.
  • Frequency varies, sometimes quarterly, but at least annually.

Canada. Militia. Canadian Expeditionary Force. 1st Canadian Contingent. - Gradation list & list of appointments, staff & units. - [S.l.: s.n., 1914?] - 118 p.

Gt. Brit. Admiralty. - The navy list. - London: 1814- .

  • Title and frequency vary. Generally quarterly to 1924, then annually, but The monthly navy list was issued 1870-1924.
  • Issued by the Ministry of Defence, Navy Dept. since 1971.
  • Lists officers and retired officers of the Royal Navy and Commonwealth navies, including the Royal Canadian Navy until after the Second World War.
  • The issue of June 1854 includes officers who had retired earlier but were still alive.
  • Continues earlier similar lists. A list of the flag officers (and other commissioned officers) of His Majesty's fleet, etc. was issued from around 1775 to 1842 and Steel's list of the Royal Navy from around 1783 to 1816. See also O'Byrne listed below.
  • The National Library does not hold a complete set.

Gt. Brit. Air Force. - The air force list. - London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1918- .

  • Frequency varies.
  • Until the creation of the Royal Air Force on April 1, 1918, officers of the Royal Flying Corps were listed in The army list and officers of the Royal Naval Air Service in The navy list. At that time, a quarter of the flying officers of the British air services were Canadians.

Gt. Brit. War Office. - The army list. - London: 1754- .

  • Title and frequency vary: A list of all the officers of the army ... 1779-1868, issued annually. The monthly army list was also issued 1809-1940. The official army list for the quarter ending ..., 1868-1903. The half-yearly army list ..., 1923-1962.
  • Issued by the Ministry of Defence, Army Dept. since 1969.
  • Lists all officers of the British Army and Royal Marines, usually with a list of those on half pay as well, arranged by corps or regiment.
  • Continues manuscript army lists 1702-1752 which are held at the Public Record Office, Kew, England.
  • Indexed after 1766.
  • Does not include as much personal detail as Hart's annual army list.
  • Some editions include officers in colonial and auxiliary regiments which were not formally part of the British Army.
  • The National Library does not hold a complete set.

_____. - Hart's annual army list. - London: 1839-1915.

  • Originally titled: The new army list ..., by H.G. Hart.
  • It is well described on the 1851 title page as "containing the dates of commissions and a statement of the war services and wounds of nearly every officer in the army, ordnance and marines."
  • Frequency varies, sometimes annually and sometimes quarterly.
  • The National Library does not hold a complete set.

O'Byrne, William R. - A naval biographical dictionary: comprising the life and services of every living officer in Her Majesty's Navy, from the rank of Admiral of the Fleet to that of Lieutenant, inclusive. - London: J. Murray, 1849. - 1400 p.

  • Includes officers from the Napoleonic Wars who were active in North America and were still alive.

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