Category Archives: Badge

Coldstream Guards Lapel Badge

I really like regimental lapel badges. They tend to be cheap, they don’t take up any room and they are often very attractive little objects with brightly coloured enamel in their decoration. Careful hunting in junk boxes can reap rewards, such as this little Coldstream Guards badge that turned up last week for £1:imageIt is made of white metal in the shape of a Garter star and has a small half-moon lapel pin soldered to the back:imageThe star is taken from the Order of the Garter, the highest order of British Chivalry and is an eight pointed star, each of its points being a cluster of rays to give a sun beam effect. In the centre of this is the badge of St George, the red cross on a white field surrounded by a navy blue garter bearing the motto ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense’. The design dates back to the reign of Charles I and the use of the badge indicates the high seniority of the Coldstream Guards, second only to the Grenadier Guards in the order of precedence.

All regiments retain close ties with their former members, but this is especially important for Guards and Cavalry regiments where regimental associations open up many doors for former soldiers. Although it is a cliché, the regimental tie and badge are still important identifiers and in social situations allow a subtle way to indicate regimental loyalties. With this in mind, small lapel badges such as this one take on a greater significance. Officially former guardsmen are represented by the Coldstream Guards Association, its website describes their role as:

The Coldstream Guards Association is a community of serving and ex-members of the Coldstream Guards, who are united by the ethos of ‘once a Coldstreamer – always a Coldstreamer’. The Association is open to all who are serving, or have served, in the Regiment, whether officer or enlisted man… It is a place to keep in touch with old friends, meet and understand the next generation of Coldstream Guardsmen and gives you the opportunity to assist in the welfare of the Regimental family where you are able.

Anzac Day Lapel Pin

On 25th April every year the people of Australia and New Zealand, together with the Cooke Islands, Pitcairn Islands and Tonga commemorate their fallen on Anzac Day. The 25th April 1915 was the day Anzac troops first landed on the Gallipoli peninsular in World War One and a year later it was officially inaugurated as a half day holiday to remember the sacrifices of Anzac troops. From the very start it was designed to be a non-denominational day of remembrance with a two minutes silence in honour of those who would not be returning. This was chosen in preference to prayer as it was open to all of any faith and none.

The Northern Territory Times and Gazette of 30th March 1920 reported:

April 25 is Anzac Day, and is a public holiday by Act of Parliament. It is really a national Australian holiday. A-N-Z-A.C-Australia New .Zealand Army Corp-a name, protected, honored and revered by the English speaking race because of its connection with the greatest military enterprise in the history of the world. Although Australia had previously participated in small wars in Africa, against the Soudanese and the Boers, Gallipoli was really our baptismal under fire. It was here that the wonderful Australian troops astounded the world and earned the respect and admiration of even the Turk. The world dearly loves a fighter and the Anzac stands on a pedestal right out on his own. So far, there has not been any official announcement that Anzac Day is to be honored by any public function in Darwin. It is inconceivable that the day will be allowed to pass without public notice or tribute locally. However, there is still plenty of time, and it is hoped that the patriotic residents of the town (and they are legion, thank God) will be given an opportunity to participate in some suitable function on Anzac Day.

During the 1920s it became established as a day of remembrance on 25th April to be observed across both Australia and New Zealand and money was raised by service chairites by selling commemorative lapel pins. It is one of these we are considering tonight:imageThe pin is simply made and has a design of a large ‘A’ in front of a flaming torch with the words ‘ANZAC DAY’ around the edges:imageLooking at the rear we can see the pin is made of thin stamped metal, with the pin soldered to the rear allowing it to be attached to a jacket lapel or a dress:imageI have been unable to find an exact match to this design of pin, but numerous other variations exist. I suspect it dates from before 1950 and there was perhaps a new design each year to encourage people to buy one annually rather than reusing the same pin every year. It would have been sold in the same way poppies were in the United Kingdom, to show solidarity with those who have lost their lives and to raise money for injured servicemen and their families.

ATC Metal Lapel Badge

Last year we looked at an example of the plastic Air Training Corps lapel badge here. Tonight I am pleased to be able to bring you the more common metal version of the badge:imageThe design is identical to that of the plastic badge, but thinner and more refined as the materials it is made from are stronger. The back has a standard lapel fitting:imageThe Air training Corps was very popular amongst boys during the Second World War and the Daily Mail reported on 4th February 1941:

Hundreds of school boys between 16 and 18 who have joined the Air Training Corps will have their first training this week.

Each boy has to give up four hours a week to ATC work and, as many are working, classes and drills are to be held at weekends and in the evenings.

Some London boroughs including St Marylebone, began training last Saturday, the day the corps came officially into existence.

Rifle Practice

Squadron Leader A.H. Waite, head of the St Marylebone A.T.C. told me: “We met on Saturday and there were enough boys already enrolled to form four flights.

“The boys took drill and classes in electricity, the internal combustion engine, and map reading. On Wednesday evening we are going to a local rifle range for practice.

Air Commodore J.A. Chamler, commandant of the A.T.C. is visiting Manchester today to meet the Lancashire Committee organising the A.T.C. He will go on to Leeds to meet the Yorkshire Organisers…

Here we see an air cadet, Fred Matthews, wearing the lapel badge on his suit:helstonatcfredmatthews

ARP Lapel Badge

One of the most common wartime badges to find today is the humble silver Air Raid Precaution (ARP) badge:imageThis badge was produced in huge quantities, by February 1938 801,000 had been delivered to local authorities! The badge was designed to allow the public to quickly see who had been trained as an ARP Warden, even whilst in civilian clothes. Sir John Anderson explained the purpose of the badge in a parliamentary answer in 1939:

The air-raid precautions badge is intended as a recognition of the obligations undertaken by persons who volunteer for local authorities’ and other air-raid precautions services and persons who take special courses of training in order to enable them to carry out their normal duties under war time conditions are not, merely by reason of their having undergone such training, eligible for the badge.

The design of the badge itself was devised by the sculptor Eric Gill and was produced by the Royal Mint. The badge came in two versions, one with a pin back for women and one with a lapel back for men, this is an example of the latter:imageNote the hallmarks at the bottom of the badge, this indicates it was produced in 1938. The badges were issued in coloured boxes- red for the lapel fitting and blue for the pin back version. Once they were issued many complained the badges were too big and commercial companies started producing smaller versions for private purchase. This again caused some debate in the house, Sir John Anderson:

I am aware that miniatures of the A.R.P. badge are on sale in various quarters. No official permission has been given for such reproductions of the badge, but I am advised that their manufacture or sale does not contravene the law as it at present stands. In those instances which have come to notice, steps have been taken to enlist the co-operation of the vendors with a view to ensuring as far as practicable that miniatures are supplied only to persons who can furnish evidence that they are entitled to wear the official badge. I am considering whether any further action is desirable.

In 1940 the badge switched from silver to base metal and in 1941 the badge was authorised for wear as a cap badge. Production finally ceased in 1943.

The government made a point of explaining in one of its ARP manuals that the badge alone was not a symbol of authority, and ARP wardens needed to be issued with a card from the local council to show their position to allow them to enter abandoned buildings etc. legally, the badge alone was not considered suitable proof. It is unclear if there was much misuse of these badges, but some local authorities did number the rear of the badges and keep a register of who had which badge.

In this early recruitment poster, the badge can clearly be seen:Air_Raid_Wardens_Wanted_-_Arp_Art_IWMPST13880

Royal Leinster Regiment Old Comrades Association Badge

In 1922 partition occurred in Ireland and a number of regiments that had traditionally recruited from the south of the country were formally disbanded. Amongst these regiments was the Prince of Wale’s Leinster Regiment. This unit had been formed in 1881 by the combining of the 100th Regiment of Foot with the 109th Regiment of Foot and it had its home depot in Birr. The Regiment served gallantly during both the Boer and Great Wars. As with most regiments, in the aftermath of the Great War an Old Comrades Association was set up to foster the companionship soldiers had experienced in service into civilian life. Tonight we have a small lapel badge for the Old Comrades Association of the Leinster Regiment:imageThis is a small silver plate badge, with a green centre containing the cap badge, The Prince of Wale’s feathers, and the numbers ‘100’ and ‘109’ representing the numbers of the original regiments that amalgamated to form the Leinster Regiment. Around the outside of this light green centre is a blue ring with the lettering ‘OCA PoW Leinster Rgt’. The rear of the badge has a lapel fastening:imageThis badge appears to be silver plate and although I cannot read it on my copy, other examples are marked as having been manufactured by Phillips of Aldershot. The Leinster Regiment Old Comrades Association remained in existence for around seventy years until the early nineties. By that point, with few original members remaining alive, it was wound up and the remaining funds distributed to charity. Happily a new organisation has since been founded to keep alive the memory of this illustrious regiment. Their website indicates who is involved in the modern successor to the Old Comrades Association:

Membership was initially derived from ex-servicemen of the British and Irish armies as well as a few who had relatives serve with the regiment. Membership continues to grow with more members having family links with the Leinster Regiment, and as the Association continues its work we also encourage any person who has the interests of our Association at heart to join us. The Association is the sum of its members and together we will maintain the spiritus intus of the Prince Of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).

The Association also describes some of the activities they have been involved with:

In October 2004 the association held a ceremony to rededicate the grave of Sgt John O’Neill VC MM, whose grave had become somewhat dilapidated over time. By September 2006 membership had exceeded 145, an excellent start for a new Association and the same year the Association was privileged to participate in the liberation commemoration ceremony held by the inhabitants of Guillemont and Ginchy in France. In March 2007 the Association held a parade in Ypres and members  marched to the Menin Gate for the ceremony of the Last Post. Each November members of the Association parade at Horse Guards for the Remembrance March in Whitehall.  The Association provides a presence at the annual Garden of Remembrance, held at Westminster Abbey in November, when all members are encouraged to support the planting of poppy crosses in the Leinster Regiment garden plot. Meetings are also held in London and Dublin.

As part of our objective of continuing the memory of the Regiment, the Association is working closely with the Council of Co. Offaly in Ireland, to develop a Leinster Regiment Collection to be housed in the County Library in the town of Birr. This collection currently houses copies of the WW1 War Diaries for the Regiment, as well as selected books, pamphlets and a photo collection on CD ROM. Our objective is to encourage descendents of Leinster soldiers to donate or loan memorabilia to the collection housed in Birr.

Royal Navy Promotional Pin Badges

We have looked at a small number of 1970s and 1980s Royal Navy promotional metal badges on the blog before. Last week I was very pleased to find another four examples and effectively doubled my little collection overnight, and it is these that we are considering tonight. Small metal badges have been around for many years, but during the 1960s and 1970s methods of manufacture became cheaper and there was an explosion in popularity for the humble pin badge. The military were not slow to recognise that by giving away these simple and cheap little badges they were getting good will and an ongoing form of advertising every time the badge was worn. In an age where every recruit had to be fought for, this was not an unattractive prospect. These badges were so cheap to manufacture that numerous designs could be produced and given away at recruitment stands, ship’s visits and public events. Sadly most were just thrown away so it is not always easy to find them today and requires a lot of scrabbling through boxes of other badges, however they are seldom expensive and I have built up a nice little collection.

We start tonight with a generic badge showing a white ensign and the letters ‘RN’:imageThis stylised logo was in use throughout the late 1970s and much of the 1980s. It appears again on this example:imageHere the badge depicts an Exocet equipped Leander class frigate, with the white ensign above. Unfortunately the red ink used in the manufacture of this example was not colour fast and has faded badly over the years. The Leander class frigate must have been a popular choice as it appears on this example as well, here though the names ‘Royal Navy’ and ‘Royal Marines’ are written out in full around the edges of the badge:imageFinally in this batch is a more unusual subject for a badge, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service:imageThe RFA is the Royal Navy’s support fleet consisting of ships that supply and refuel the warships. They play a vital role but are often forgotten about. Here though we have a very attractive little badge with their ensign and one of their ships in silhouette in the centre, surrounded by a rope ring.

These four badges have now brought my little collection up to eight examples:imageNone of these has ever cost more than 50p each and they remain a very affordable little area to collect. I am sure there will be many more designs to find, so I will keep hunting!

Royal Navy Trade Patches (Part 5)- QARNNS

So far all the badges we have looked at have been blue on a white background. Tonight however we have a selection of badges that are red, including a medical trade badge:imageLeading hand’s rank badge:imageAnd a petty officer’s rank badge:imageThese badges were actually for use by the Queen Alexandria’s Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS), and were worn on the traditional blue nurses uniforms:CaptureIn 1883, a committee determined that improvements were needed in medical and nursing care in the Royal Navy. As such, in 1884, a uniformed Naval Nursing Service was introduced, staffed by trained nurses. These nurses served on shore, initially at Haslar and Plymouth.

In 1902, Alexandra of Denmark, the queen consort of Edward VII of the United Kingdom, became President of the Nursing Staff; in her honour, the Naval Nursing service was renamed Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service Reserve was established on 13 October 1910.

In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, QARNNS was significantly expanded, with many volunteers from the British Red Cross and civilian hospitals; similarly, during the Second World War, many volunteer QARNNS nurses were deployed overseas.

In 1949 a nursing branch of the Women’s Royal Naval Service was formed; however, in 1960 these nurses were integrated into QARNNS, creating a single nursing service. In 1982 an integrated service was formed, allowing men to serve as nurses in QARNNS. The first man to join was Senior Nursing Officer Rajendrasen Purusrum, who was commissioned on 1 March 1983.

Although fully affiliated to the Royal Navy from 1977, QARNNS was technically a separate service until 31 March 2000, when it officially became part of the Royal Navy.

Queen Alexandra was President until her death in 1925. The following year she was succeeded by Queen Mary. Princess Alexandra became Patron in 1955.

The trade badge at the top was to indicate a QARNNS Auxiliary and the design was first introduced in the mid-1960s. The ratings badges were introduced in 1985, the service having its own distinctive rank insignia prior to that point. It was found that those outside the QARNNS did not recognise what the ranks and rates meant so there was a slow move over to more conventional badges. The officers were to follow, with ranks renamed in 1982 when men were permitted to join and in the mid-1990s with the use of conventional rank insignia, but surmounted by a red double ‘A’ badge to indicate their status as nursing officers.