Post War Tropical Parachutist’s Wings

My thanks go to Andy Dearlove who very kindly gave me today’s object.

The Parachute Regiment’s jump wings were introduced during the Second World War and took the form of an embroidered badge featuring a central parachute with a pair of wings extending from either side of it. The design clearly borrowed heavily from the wings already in use by the RAF, but with the obvious addition of the parachute to reflect the units raison d’etre. By the end of the Second World War, the design of the wings had settled down and the basic design has remained unchanged since. Whilst during wartime the emphasis had been on insignia to be worn on combat uniforms, during the post war period the badge was adapted for wear on other forms of dress and bullion examples were to be produced for wear with mess dress and today’s version that is designed to be worn on the tropical stone parade uniform. As such the wings are embroidered on a matching backing fabric, here a pale stone/tan shade:

The wings are embroidered in white, whilst the central parachutist is rendered in light blue thread. The back of the badge has a piece of white cotton backing that helps tidy up the rear of the embroidery and  make it slightly easier to sew neatly onto a uniform:

The British Army has three parachute qualification badges for non Special Forces qualified soldiers:

·         Assistant Parachute Jump Instructor;

·         Parachute Badge with Wings (also used by the Royal Marines and Royal Navy), and

·         Parachute Badge without Wings.

Today the Parachute Badge with Wings insignia, which depicts an open parachute embroidered in white flanked by a pair of wings embroidered in light blue, is only to be worn by a qualified parachutist who has subsequently been on the posted strength of a unit where he may be ordered in the course of his duties to parachute. Those who do not serve with a parachute unit are permitted to wear the Parachute Badge without Wings, colloquially known as the ‘Lightbulb’. The length of time these items of insignia remained in use for makes dating them very hard, whilst it is clear that this set of wings is post war in date, when in the last 75 years is harder to determine, my suspicion would be its possibly 1970s in date but I must admit this is a long way out of my area of expertise!

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