31 Canadian Brigade Group - History
Headquarters are not traditionally considered to have lineages similar to military units. 31 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters does, however, continue a heritage of military headquarters in London which have, for over a century, commanded units of the Canadian Army in South-Western Ontario. Depending on the Army's organization, the various headquarters that have been located in London have seen changes in the number of units and the size of the area of operational responsibility they commanded.
As early as the 1860s, the number of Militia units throughout the Canadian provinces outgrew the span of control possible for a single centralized headquarters, and a more comprehensive command structure was required. In 1868, a system of Military Districts was created and assigned the responsibility for overseeing the training and coordinating the administrative of Militia units in their assigned areas. These Military Districts were further divided into "Brigade Divisions".
The Militia List of 1895 provides the following structure for Military District No. 1, which had its Headquarters in London, Ontario:
1st Brigade Division, covering the counties of Bothwell, Elgin, Essex, Kent, Lambton, Middlesex, Oxford, and the City of London.
2nd Brigade Division; covering the counties of Bruce, Huron, Perth, Waterloo, and Wellington.
By the early decades of the 1900s, the Military District system remained in the same basic structure, with some changes to assigned areas of responsibility. To provide two examples, the areas of responsibility assigned to No. 1 Military District in 1915 and 1939 were:
1915 - Counties of Essex, Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford, Waterloo, Perth, Huron, and Bruce in the Province of Ontario.
1939 - Counties of Bruce, Elgin, Essex, Huron, Kent, Lambton, Middlesex, Oxford, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington in Ontario
During the Second World War, between 1939 and 1946, a system of Brigades within each Military District was adopted. The Brigade identities and headquarters locations under command of No. 1 Military District were:
- 1st Infantry Brigade (London)
- 2nd Infantry Brigade (Kitchener)
- 7th Field Brigade, RCA (London)
- 11th Field Brigade RCA (Guelph)
- 21st Field Brigade, RCA (Listowel)
- 1st (Reserve) Infantry Brigade (London)
In this context it should be noted that the designation "Reserve" for the 1st (Reserve) Infantry Brigade indicated that it was an identified establishment without assigned personnel. These Reserve Brigades, which were allocated one per Military District, were restructured and redesignated in 1942. The 1st (Reserve) Infantry Brigade became the 31st (Reserve) Infantry Brigade.
In January 1947, No.1 Military District was renamed Headquarters, Western Ontario Area. In 1954, the Canadian Army (Reserve Force) was renamed the Canadian Army (Militia). It was at this time that an organizational system of Militia Groups replaced the Brigade structures that were in place. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, an organization of Militia Commands, Areas, and Groups evolved. By 1969, the Militia in Ontario was under the command of Central Militia Area, with the following subordinate Districts:
- Ottawa Militia District (OMD)
- Toronto Militia District (TMD)
- London Militia District (LMD)
- Northern Ontario Militia District (NOMD)
- Windsor Militia District (WMD)
- Hamilton Militia District (HMD)
In 1989, London Militia District absorbed Windsor Militia District.
This organization lasted until the early 1990s. In 1991, the Canadian Army was organized into four Land Force Areas which commanded both Regular and Reserve units within their areas of responsibility. The field units of the Regular Force were organized in Brigades while the Militia units remained organized in District commands.
London Militia District maintained its headquarters in London, Ontario, and the span of control of the HQ changed once more in 1995 when it absorbed Hamilton Militia District.
On 1 September 1997, the Militia District system was changed to a new Brigade organization. On this date, 31 Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters was authorized in London Ontario with 15 subordinate units.
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