Royal Engineers Cadets ID Card and Badge

Regardless of whether someone is a fulltime soldier, reservist or a cadet they need forms of identification to access MoD property for reasons of security. Never was this more important than in the 1970s when military bases were at risk from Irish terrorists, either as targets in their own right or as a location for weapons that could be stolen and used to equip the paramilitary organisations. In this atmosphere identity cards were particularly important in ensuring only authorised personnel were permitted entry. Today we are looking at one such identity card that was issued to a Royal Engineers cadet in London in the 70s, together with his name badge:

The badge is made using a label maker, very common in the post war period and used to label allsorts of items in both civilian and military life. The label maker had a strip of plastic tape with a sticky backing that was passed through a machine with a rotary dial. The letter required was chosen and the handles pressed which forced the letter up through the plastic, stretching it and leaving a raised white letter. Once the label had been made, it was cut to length, the backing removed and stuck to whatever it was to be used on, here a name badge.

By modern standards the identity card seems rather crude and simple to forge, but with few outside professional printing firms having access to the ability to print it was much harder to reproduce documents with text on them. This combined with the photograph and signature of the commanding officer who would have been known to the gate guards the cards were a simple and effective way of maintaining security. The card itself has the owner’s name on the front, here for Everard Patterson, and his unit, 23 Cadet Squadron RE based in Holloway, London. His photograph shows him in uniform:

The reverse of the card has his date of birth, home address and signature:

Again, the elaborately printed badge makes forgery harder. The date of birth would make the card holder 20 in 1979 so would date the card to the mid to late 1970s.


  1. I wish I had a dollar for every mile of ‘Dymo’ label I punched out…
    We used it for everything, including ‘Org boards’ where everyone’s little card had their picture, much like this one, and a Dymo label with name and particulars, and a dozen other Dymo labels for the various columns on the board, and every Aircraft marshalling board had labels all over it, and drawers and file boxes, and settings on pieces of equipment etc. etc.
    Years later when I had to use electric machines with coloured tapes and different interchangeable coloured films for letters and a dozen fonts and type sizes, it somehow just wasn’t the same as that satisfying ‘chunk-chunk’ of the handpress πŸ™‚

      • I’d imagine there’s lots of test equipment still in use with Dymo labels under every dial and each setting of every knob, some of it I probably put there myself, 25 years isn’t that long for the good old blue tape, for some reason blue seemed to last longer than black or red, almost as if it fused to the paint πŸ˜‰

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