The Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve was formed on March 15, 1923, with the approval of Rear-Admiral Walter Hose, Director of Naval Services. Also known as the "wavy navy," the nickname was derived from the wavy design of the braid on officers’ sleeves and the wavy white border on the collars of the sailors. The wavy design acted to differentiate the uniforms of the Naval Reserve from the uniforms of the Royal Canadian Navy with their straight-lined braid and borders. In 1939, when Canada declared war, there were less than 4,000 officers and men in the navy of whom 1,800 were members of the Volunteer Reserve. At its peak, Canadian naval strength during the Second World War reached 87,000 officers and men, 78,000 of whom were members of the Volunteer Reserve. Canada’s navy became the third largest in the Allied forces.
The Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve was formed on March 15, 1923, with the approval of Rear-Admiral Walter Hose, Director of Naval Services. Also known as the "wavy navy," the nickname was derived from the wavy design of the braid on officers’ sleeves and the wavy white border on the collars of the sailors. The wavy design acted to differentiate the uniforms of the Naval Reserve from the uniforms of the Royal Canadian Navy with their straight-lined braid and borders. In 1939, when Canada declared war, there were less than 4,000 officers and men in the navy of whom 1,800 were members of the Volunteer Reserve. At its peak, Canadian naval strength during the Second World War reached 87,000 officers and men, 78,000 of whom were members of the Volunteer Reserve. Canada’s navy became the third largest in the Allied forces.

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Uniform of a Lieutenant

Uniform of a Lieutenant, Supply and Secretariat Branch, in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) or "wavy navy."

The Naval Museum of Alberta

© The Naval Museum of Alberta


Learning Objectives

  • Develop an understanding of the participation and role of Canada’s Navy in the World War II.
  • Examine the contributions, sacrifices and experiences of individuals who participated in naval events during World War II.
  • Identify the locations in which Canada’s Navy operated during World War II.
  • Evaluate the weapons and technology involved in the war at sea.

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