The formation sign used to identify vehicles associated with army-level units. A flag with the same design was used to identify army staff cars.
When the First Canadian Army was formed overseas in 1942, Lieutenant-General McNaughton's aim was to keep the Canadian Army unified to lead the cross-channel assault on northwest Europe.
 Two brigades of the
2nd Canadian Division led the ill-fated
Dieppe Raid in 1942.
 Aside from this endeavour, the Army did not see combat until July 1943. In 1943, because the Canadian government wanted Canadian troops to see action immediately,
1st Canadian Infantry Division,
1st Canadian Armoured Brigade, and
5th Canadian Armoured Division were detached from the Army for participation in the
In early 1944, the
3rd Canadian Infantry Division and
2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade were also detached to
British I Corps to participate in the assault phase of the
II Canadian Corps became operational in Normandy in early July 1944, as the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division landed. The First Canadian Army headquarters did not itself arrive in Normandy until mid-July, becoming operational 23 July 1944 just prior to
4th Canadian Armoured Division arriving on the Continent.
First Canadian Army generals in
, on May 20, 1945 Seated from left:
(Polish Armoured Division),
II Canadian Corps
First Canadian Army,
I Canadian Corps
5th Canadian (Armoured) Division
; Standing from left:
3rd Canadian Infantry Division
2nd Canadian Infantry Division
1st Canadian Infantry Division
4th Canadian (Armoured) Division
, S.B. Rawlins, 49th British Division
The Army proper first went into action in the
Battle of Normandy and conducted operations at
Operation Tractable) and helping close the
Falaise pocket. After reaching the Seine, the objective of the first phase of Operation Overlord, the Army moved along the coast towards
Belgium, with the Canadian 2nd Division entering
Dieppe at the beginning of September. The critical
Battle of the Scheldt in October and November opened
Antwerp to Allied shipping.
The First Canadian Army held a static line along the
river Meuse (Maas) from December through February, then launched
Operation Veritable in early February. By this point the Army, besides the II Canadian Corps, contained nine British divisions. The
Siegfried Line was broken and the Army reached the banks of the
Rhine in early March.
In the final weeks of the war in Europe, the First Army cleared the
Netherlands of German forces. By this time the First Division and Fifth (Armoured) Division as well as First Armoured Brigade and the 1st Cdn AGRA had returned to the Army during
Operation Goldflake and for the first time, both the
I Canadian Corps and II Canadian Corps fought under the same Army commander.