We have looked at a number of British Army brassards over the years, the pieces of cloth worn on the shoulder to display specific pieces of insignia. The greatest users of brassards, however, are cadet forces. The brassard is ideally suited for their purposes. Cadets need to show their unit affiliation, rank and awards, however they are still growing and will be reissued larger uniform fairly regularly. Rather than having to sew the badges onto the uniform, then unpick them and resew them on to a larger size, they can just swap the brassard in a matter of seconds. These brassards are often overlooked by collectors because of their cadet rather than regular army origin, however they are colourful and interesting and there are dozens of units and variations available to find. My thanks go to John Bodsworth for kindly sending me this selection for the collection:
All are based on a green cotton brassard, although the shape varies slightly between some of them. Some have the simple shoulder title ‘ACF’ without a place or location in the title:
Others have a divisional patch beneath this to show the ACF units location such as this one for a London based unit:
And this one whose location I am not sure of, but has a flying bird badge:
Note also the blue pip showing a cadet’s proficiency. Other units have their location embroidered on the shoulder title such as this one for Cumbria Army Cadets:
And this one for the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Army Cadets:
The same use of brassards is made by the Combined Cadet Forces in schools, this example is for Daniel Stewarts and Mellville College Combined Cadet Force
These examples are relatively plain and some brassards are to be found with a multitude of proficiency badges, rifle marksmanship badges and other insignia on them. The Cadet Training Manual provides this instruction on the placing of insignia:
0109.The brassard is a detachable sleeve worn on the right upper arm only, and secured at the top by the shoulder strap of the shirt, jersey, or smock, passed through the loop of the brassard (see Fig 1). It is worn with Shirt Sleeve, Jersey or Combat Jacket Orders only, and the following badges and insignia may be sewn on to it:
0110. Not more than four embroidered Proficiency/Skill at Arms badges may be sewn on to the brassard. The precedence will be from the top right, where the Proficiency star will be sewn, to top left to bottom right to bottom left.
0111. Full size chevrons are to be worn on the brassard by SSIs in the CCF and AIs in the ACF. Cadet NCOs are to wear reduced size chevrons on the brassard.
Sensible, same way as we went from sewn on rank badges for work and combat uniforms to slip ons and the last uniform I wore even had shoulder boards for Officer’s rank on the dress uniform that looked quite proper.
While I was in the military if you saw a larger arm brassard you knew it most often designated a position not a rank so you could find the ‘MFWIC’ in a hurry if you needed to. Duty NCO or Officer, Range Safety Officer (RSO), Line Servicing Officer (LSO), Load Control Officer (LCO), On Scene Controller (OSCAR) for emergencies, EOD, etc. Also the MP’s wore them along with the white forage cap covers for fast recognition (and avoidance 😉 ).