The Canadian Provost Corps
1939 - 1946

Provost Vehicle Markings

Canadian military vehicle markings in Canada and overseas generally followed established British patterns developed during the First World War.

Home War Establishments - Canada

1940 - 1943

Canadian Active Service Force Routine Order 451 of 27 April 1940 specified instructions for marking military vehicles in service in Canada. It stated in part that:

"3.All mechanically-propelled vehicles passed into service will be alloted a Department of National Defence Number".
The DND Number consisted of the last two figures of the year of purchase of the vehicle, followed by a 1, then by the vehicle number.

"5. The following marks will be painted on all Mechanically Propelled Vehicles:-
(i) Designation of arm of service.
(ii)Class letter.
(iii)Department of National Defence Number.
The marking will be painted, as applicable, on the outside of the door of the driver's compartment or, where doors do not exist, on the panel adjacent to the driver's seat. Marking will be on each side of the vehicle.
Motorcycles will be marked on the left side of the gasoline tank in convenient sized letters and numbers.
White paint will be used for the marking of vehicles."

The designation of arm of service as it pertained to Provost Vehicles included the Provost Company number and "Canadian Provost Corps". The class identifying letters seen on Provost vehicles were:
C for motorcycles
M for motor cars
V for vans and station wagons
L for motor lorries
X for trailers
Z for trucks


Illustrated above is a typical marking scheme for a station wagon belonging to No 30 Provost Company purchased in 1940.


A Ford CII AD station wagon with the Provost markings clearly visible on the door.

1943 - 1945

Effective 15 July 1943, Routine Order 451 was cancelled and Routine Order 3493 was promulgated. A new DND numbering system was introduced. Vehicles other than motorcycles were to be consecutively numbered, irrespective of type or year of issue commencing with D.N.D number 50-001. Motorcycles were numbered consecutively irrespective of type or year of issue commencing with D.N.D. number 2-001. Class identifying letters remained the same. Unit designations were not to be used, markings were to be in the same location as before.

Typical Motorcycle marking post 1943.

Formation signs were authorised for the 3 Divisions in Canada.

6th Division

7th Division

8th Division

Canadian Army Overseas


Standard vehicle markings consisted of Unit Signs, Formation Signs, War Department (WD) Numbers, Bridge Class Signs, Air Recognition markings and in the case of Military Police vehicles, status or priority signs.

Typical marking locations on a Canadian made 15 CWT GS Truck belonging to No 5 Provost Company, 5th Canadian Armoured Division, North West Europe, 1945. The WD Number illustrated is unconfirmed.

Provost Status Markings

Canadian and British Military Police vehicles used similar arm of service markings, and as a number of British MP units were under control of Canadian formations, it can be difficult to differentiate between Canadian and British MP vehicles in period photographs.

Canadian Provost vehicles were usually marked with a PROVOST sign consisting of white letters on a contrasting (usually black) background. This was either stencilled or hand painted directly onto the vehicle or painted on a detachable plate. British Military Police vehicles bore a MILITARY POLICE sign, with black or red letters on a white background. Some Canadian Provost vehicles did bear British type signs.

Typical Canadian Provost Marking

Typical British Marking

Recognition Markings

For recognition from the air, Allied vehicles were usually marked on an upper surface with a white circle enclosing a white star, or a plain white star. The sides of vehicles often bore a plain star. Canadians often painted the star off-angle to differentiate themselves from American vehicles. According to regulations, the circle was to be a minimum of 4 inches across and the star a minimum of 1 foot from the center to the outer edge of the circle.

Allied Vehicle Recognition Marking

Allied Vehicle Recognition Marking Variant

War Department (WD) Numbers

Every British or Canadian vehicle was allotted a WD number, prefixed by a letter indicating the vehicle type. The letters were the same as those used in Canada, with the exception that Canadian vehicles were prefixed with a C. This was sometimes omitted.

Typical WD Number on a Canadian jeep.

Formation And Unit Markings

Each vehicle was to bear a sign indicating the formation ( Army, Corps, Division or Brigade); and a unit sign indicating the specific unit. These markings changed as units were added or transferred and formations created or disbanded. Formation signs were rectangular and stencilled, hand painted or applied in the form of a transfer (decal). The specified dimensions were 6 1/2 inches high by 9 inches wide. Canadian formation signs invariably incorporated a gold maple leaf in the design.

Unit signs were usually square and in the case of Provost units, the background colour was black, with white numerals. Units assigned to the First Canadian Army had a 2 inch high white bar at the bottom of the unit sign. Units assigned to First and Second Canadian Corps had the 2 inch bar at the top of the sign.

Original water slide decal for 3rd Canadian Infantry Division

The following chart illustrates most of the Provost units up to 15 October 1945. It is extrapolated from CMHQ guidelines, Canadian Army Routine Orders (Overseas)and Unit Serial listings.

For more information on other units and formations, Don Dingwall publishes images of original source material on CMHQ Guidelines For The Canadian Army Overseas. It is availible on CD from

Higher Formations

First Canadian Army was under the command of 21st Army Group. Canadian Provost at Headquarters 21st Army Group likely used the 21st Army Group formation sign.

21st Army Group

No 1 Special Investigation Section

No 2 Line of Communication Provost Coy. HQ

Canadian Military Headquarters

First Canadian Army

First Canadian Army

11 Provost Company

1 Traffic Control HQ Section (1944)

21 Traffic Control Company

27 Traffic Control Company

First Canadian Corps

First Canadian Corps

No. 3 Provost Company

PAC Photo

Two LCpls of 3 Provost Company on Norton motorcycles. The unit sign of white 83 on a black square with a white bar on the mudguard is clearly visible. The WD number is in the specified location on the gas tank.

PAC Photo

No 3 Provost Company jeep in Taormina Italy, December 1943. The WD number is hand painted in black and visible just above the unit sign.

Second Canadian Corps

Second Canadian Corps

13 Provost Company

1st Canadian Infantry Division

1st Canadian Infantry Division

No. 1 Provost Company

2nd Canadian Infantry Division

2nd Canadian Infantry Division

No. 2 Provost Company

3rd Canadian Infantry Division

3rd Canadian Infantry Division

No. 4 Provost Company

4th Canadian Armoured Division

4th Canadian Armoured Division

No. 8 Provost Company

5th Canadian Armoured Division

5th Canadian Armoured Division

No. 5 Provost Company

Canadian Armoured Brigades

1 Armoured Brigade

No. 3 Provost Section 1944 -45.
(Possible use of Armoured Brigade HQ sign.)

2 Armoured Brigade

3 Armoured Brigade

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