Gorget patches (collar tabs, collar patches) are an insignia, paired patches of cloth or metal on the collar (gorget) of the uniform, that is used in the military and civil service in some countries. Collar tabs sign the military rank (group of ranks), the rank of civil service, the military unit, the office (department) or the branch of the armed forces and the arm of service.
Gorget patches were originally gorgets, pieces of armour. With the disuse of armour they were lost. The patches were reintroduced as insignia during the South African War (1889-1902). They have been used ever since.
In Bangladesh army officers of the rank of Colonel and above wear ‘Gorget Patches’. They are red in color.
With the restoration of historical nomenclature to the Canadian Army, reinstated insignia will include traditional gorget patches for colonels and general officers.
In the French Army collar patches were used on tunics and greatcoats since the eighteenth century. Usually in contrasting collars to the collar itself, they came to carry a regimental number or specialist insignia. With the adoption of a new light-beige dress uniform for all ranks in the 1980s, the practice of wearing coloured collar patches was discontinued.
In the German Empire, generals, some officers, guardsmen and seamen wore collar patches, but these were not part of the service-wide uniform. In the Weimar Republic such patches (or Litzen) were introduced throughout the army in 1921, where they indicated the rank and the arm of service, but were not used in the navy. Some Nazi-era civil services (e.g., police and railways) wore uniforms with collar tabs, similar to the armed forces' tabs. New tabs were also introduced for the political leaders of the NSDAP, for the new Nazi organisations (as Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel). The GDR used similar collar tabs to those of the Wehrmacht for its army and air force. Collar tabs were also worn by some personnel of the navy. The armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany also maintained the use of collar tabs in the army and the air force, where they indicate to which branch (or Truppengattung) an individual soldier belongs. Members of the German Navy do not wear collar tabs.
In India coloured patches are used by Senior Ranking officers all the Armed Forces. The Army like many other armies in the world assigns a red Patch to a Full Colonel ranking officer to signify that he is a Commanding Officer. He has a Crimson Patch with a Golden Lining. The Brigadier is basically a Single Star General and therefore has one golden star on his patch instead of the golden line The Chief Of Army Staff of the Indian Army has 4 stars on his Red patch. Only a Field Marshal has more than 4 stars. Two men have been Field Marshals. One has been Marshal Of the Skies who has a light blue patch with 5 stars. If there is ever an Admiral of the Fleet in India he might get 5 stars on a dark blue patch.
All senior ranking police officers of the Rank of Senior Superintendent of Police or Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police (both ranks being equivalent with Deputy Commissioner's are only in towns which has moved over to a commissioner system of policing thi rank being equivalent to a full colonel in the Army) get a dark blue patch with a silver lining this remains same for the next promotion which is Deuty Inspector General or Additional Commissioner of Police. However, the next senior officer the Inspector General or Joint Commissioner of Police has a silver design of a long leaf rather than a simple silver lining on their patch which remains the same all the way up to the Director General of Police or Commissioner of Police.
Since the late nineteenth century the Italian Army has made extensive use of coloured collar patches to distinguish branches of service and individual regiments.
In the Russian Empire collar patches sign rank according to the Table of ranks. In the USSR in 1924-1943 served as the primary insignia of military ranks. When the shoulder straps were restored in 1943, collar tabs remained as an insignia of the branch and the arm of service. Since 1932 they were also used as an insignia in some civil services. The state of affairs is the same in the modern Russian Federation.
In the Sri Lanka Air Force gorget patches sign military rank.
In the Swiss army collar patches denote the rank and the arm of service.
In the United Kingdom gorget patches are worn by British Army general officers or senior officers according to branch or arm of service; their counterpart police ranks wear similar gorget patches of silver-on-black. Officer cadets in the Merchant Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force also wear patches.
The patches were introduced for British Army staff officers in India in 1887 and there was then a proliferation of them. Different colours were introduced to indicate the branch of service and by 1940 there was: bright blue (engineers), dark blue (ordnance), pale blue (education), scarlet (general staff duties), cherry (medical), maroon (veterinary), purple (chaplain), green (dental) and yellow (accountants). During World War I all staff officers from 2nd Lieutenants upwards wore gorget patches and hatbands of these colours, making them conspicuous when in the trenches and leading to the nickname of "the gilded staff". In 1921 coloured collar patches were restricted to full colonels and above.
- Major R. M. Barnes, page 278 "A History of the Regiments & Uniforms of the British Army", Sphere Books 1972
- Gorget Patches at Mike Comerford Ordnance Insignia of the British Army. Retrieved 21 June 2013