Early War Dispatch Rider’s Trade Badge

Tonight we have an example of an embroidered dispatch rider’s trade badge from the beginning of the Second World War. This badge has a winged motorcycle wheel and the letters ‘DR’ for dispatch rider:imageInterestingly this badge is not actually an official piece of army insignia. The only official dispatch riders in the army were part of the Royal Signals, everyone else should have worn a badge marked ‘MC’ for motorcyclist. In reality ‘dispatch rider’ was a universally recognised term and soldiers doing this job in other regiments wanted to be recognised as such so resorted to unofficial insignia of which this is a common type. These badges were purchased from military outfitters and this particular design seems to have been the most popular with examples being sold in relatively large quantities for an unofficial trade badge. Unlike the official badge, this design has a more elaborate style of wheel and wings that sweep up at a sharper angle.  It is still a rare badge, but not as uncommon as one might expect from its history. The badge was worn on the lower left sleeve, sewn to the battledress.

The badge itself is embroidered onto a piece of khaki fabric, and the rear of the badge shows the various threads from this process:imageDouglas Seed was a dispatch rider with the Royal Signals:

On the 13th. November 1941 I received my calling up papers instructing me to report to the Royal Corps of Signals at the British Rail holiday camp in Prestatyn in North Wales.

After six weeks parade ground training I was posted to Colwyn Bay for more training this time as a dispatch rider.

On the 6th March 1942 I became a dispatch rider group D class with an increase in pay, moving then onto Largs in Scotland to become a part of 78dr section 1st Army Signals. When it was approaching embarkation time I had to show a despatch rider from another unit the daily run to Glasgow which was part of the sections duties. Of we went over the moors the other motor cycle behind me complete with a pillion passenger, when out of nowhere a figure without any thought for his own safety jumped into the road waving his arms for me to stop. I applied my brakes, the rider behind me did not stop and consequently hit my rear mudguard jamming it tight against the wheel. I went one way the bike went the other way. Not only did I tear my breeches but I set light to a box of Swan Vestas matches that were in my pocket. After the mudguard was freed and the fire extinguished I asked why was I stopped and was told there was ice on the road. A kind thought! As it was I suffered a burn, grazes and a badly scratched helmet, not to mention my pride. Soon after this incident I with the rest of the section embarked on the SS Stralallan in convoy on our way to North Africa.ABL-WLC

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