Plastic Royal Engineers Cap Badge

It was on 24th May 1941 that the company of Alfred Stanley & Sons of Walsall approached the War Department with the suggestion to produce cap badges from plastic to save brass. This was not the first time the idea had been suggested, with an idea to produce shoulder titles in plastic having been considered and rejected as uneconomical earlier that same year. This time however serious thought was given to producing badges in plastic. The plastic suggested was cellulose acetate and it was ideally suited to injection moulding which allowed a high level of detail to be picked up, ideal for cap badges.

The War Office considered the proposal and felt that although there was a difficulty in decontaminating plastic badges, they would be cheap enough to become disposable if a few were to be covered in vessicant gasses. It was also noted that the badges could be produced in any colour they wished, that cellulose acetate was far less brittle than other sorts of plastics and the industry had capacity to produce badges. With all this taken into consideration and following the producion of prototypes, by December of 1941 orders were placed for plastic cap badges for the largest of the corps where the need would be greatest. Amongst the units chosen for this initial batch was the Royal Engineers:

The badge closely copies the brass version, but is thicker and has slightly more pronounced relief. The rear of the badge has two brass lugs that are passed through the cap and bent back on themselves to secure it:

The maker’s mark indicates that this was made by A Stanley and Sons of Walsall. In total 762,456 of these badges were made for the Royal Engineers and units were instructed to use them once brass badges in stores were exhausted. They were also informed that there was to be no attempt to have uniform cap badges within units, so brass and plastic examples were to be worn alongside each other. The large numbers of Royal Engineers examples made makes this one of the more common plastic cap badges to find.

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