Brigade insignia of the British Army

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World War I[edit]

During World War I the need to identify friendly troops in assaulting formations was made difficult by the new dispersion of troops across the battlefield. Beginning with the arrival of large number of Kitchener's Army troops in 1915, and widespread after the Battle of the Somme of 1916, each battalion of a division would have a particular sign of a distinctive coloured cloth patch, either sewn to the uniform jacket (on the sleeves, or the back of the tunic), or painted on the helmet.[1] These distinguishing marks, known as "Battle Patches" were distinct from the Division signs, and were for the most part simple shapes and colours. The scheme for these Battle patches could be decided at division or brigade level or be based on regimental colours or insignia, and was in some cases continued down to company or even platoon level. This system did not prevent duplication across the divisions, a red square was worn by at least 14 battalions.[2]. Examples can be see for 20th, 23rd, 38th (Welsh) and 50th (Northumbrian) divisions, and 146th, 147th and 148th brigades.

World War II[edit]

World War II British battledress arm of service (corps) colours

By the start of the Second World War, the British Army prohibited all identifying marks on its Battle Dress uniforms in 1939 save for drab (black or white on khaki) regimental or corps (branch) slip-on titles, and even these were not to be worn in the field. In May 1940 this was reinforced by Army Council Instruction (ACI) 419 prohibiting all formation marks on uniforms.[3]

In September 1940 formation patches were authorized by ACI 1118 to identify the wearer's independent brigade or brigade group.[4] A Brigade "Formation Badge" was sometimes worn when the formation was not attached to a division, as an Independent Infantry Brigade or brigade group (with attached other arms and services). When part of a division the infantry of a brigade wore one or more arm of service strips (2 inches (5.1 cm) by 14 inch (0.64 cm)), red for infantry, dark green for Rifle Regiments, indicating brigade seniority, one for the senior brigade, two for the intermediate and three for the junior.[5] As an independent brigade or brigade group the infantry would only wear one strip, the other arms would also wear their arm of service strip. Battalion specific or general regimental patches, in addition to the shoulder title, could also be worn below the arm of service stripe, but the cost of these had to be borne from regimental funds, not the War Office.[6]

In the British Army, ACI 1118 specified that the design for the formation sign should be approved by the general officer commanding the formation and reported to the War Office.[7] A further order of December 1941 (ACI 2587) specified the material of the uniform patch as printed cotton (ordnance issue), this replaced the embroidered felt (or fulled wool) or metal badges used previously. In other theatres the uniform patch could be made from a variety of materials including printed or woven cotton, woven silk, leather or metal embroidered felt (or fulled wool).[8]

Infantry[edit]

Armoured and Tank[edit]

Post War[edit]

Aside from the deployment to Germany in the British Army of the Rhine, the employment of divisions has been rare since the Second World War, with Brigades often being the primary field formation.

Infantry[edit]

Armoured[edit]

Modern[edit]

Brigades consisting of supporting units maintain their own insignia as well. For use in the field the patches are also issued in subdued colours, green-black, sand shades or tan-black.[47]

Soldier from the 16th Air Assault Brigade prepares to raise the Union Flag
Afghanistan Service Medal Parade, note 52nd Infantry Brigade insignia

Armoured and Mechanised[edit]

Infantry[edit]

Supporting Arms[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chappell pp. 5-6
  2. ^ Hibberd pps. 9, 17, 23, 39, 43, 44, 50, 51, 55, 57, 58, 61
  3. ^ Davis p. 92
  4. ^ Davis p. 95
  5. ^ Davis p. 95
  6. ^ Davis pps. 94, 97
  7. ^ Davis pps. 95, 97
  8. ^ Davis pp. 99-100
  9. ^ a b c d Cole p. 128
  10. ^ a b c d e Cole p. 129
  11. ^ a b Cole p. 130
  12. ^ a b c d e f Cole p. 131
  13. ^ Boulanger p. 248
  14. ^ Boulanger p. 249
  15. ^ a b c d e Cole p. 132
  16. ^ a b c Cole p. 133
  17. ^ a b c d Cole p. 123
  18. ^ a b c d Cole p. 124
  19. ^ Boulanger p. 142
  20. ^ Boulanger p. 142
  21. ^ Boulanger p. 143
  22. ^ a b c d Cole p. 126
  23. ^ a b c Cole p. 125
  24. ^ Boulanger p. 148
  25. ^ a b c Cole p. 127
  26. ^ Cole p. 126
  27. ^ Watson & Rinaldi p. 123
  28. ^ Watson & Rinaldi p. 150
  29. ^ a b Watson & Rinaldi p. 151
  30. ^ Davis (2) no. 128
  31. ^ Cole (2) p. 64
  32. ^ a b Cole (2) p. 65
  33. ^ Boulanger p. 228
  34. ^ Cole (2) p. 67
  35. ^ Cole (2) pp. 68-9
  36. ^ Boulanger p. 234
  37. ^ Cole (2) p. 68
  38. ^ Cole (2) p. 69
  39. ^ Boulanger p. 235
  40. ^ Cole (2) p. 70
  41. ^ Boulanger p. 245
  42. ^ Cole (2) p. 98
  43. ^ Cole (2) p. 99
  44. ^ Cole (2) p. 100
  45. ^ a b Cole (2) p. 96
  46. ^ Cole (2) p. 97
  47. ^ Hodges pp. 484-496
  48. ^ Hodges p. 492
  49. ^ Hodges p. 493
  50. ^ a b c Hodges p. 494
  51. ^ Hodges p. 495
  52. ^ Hodges p. 496
  53. ^ Hodges p. 497

Bibliography[edit]

  • Boulanger, Bruno (2015). WW2 British Formation Badges, A Collectors Guide. ISBN 9782960180206.
  • Chappell, Mike (1986). British Battle Insignia (1). 1914-18. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9780850457278.
  • Cole, Howard (1973). Formation Badges of World War 2. Britain, Commonwealth and Empire. London: Arms and Armour Press.
  • Cole (2), Howard, N (1953). Badges on Battledress, Post-War Formation Signs; Rank and Regimental Insignia. Aldershot: Gale and Polden.
  • Davis, Brian L (1983). British Army Uniforms & Insignia of World War Two. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 0853686092.
  • Davis (2), Brian L (1985). British Army Cloth Insignia. 1940 to the present. An illustrated reference guide for collectors. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 0853687099.
  • Hibbard, Mike; Gibbs, Gary (2016). Infantry Divisions, Identification Schemes 1917 (1 ed.). Wokingham: The Military History Society.
  • Hodges, Lt. Col Robin (2005). British Army Badges. Butler and Tanner Ltd. ISBN 9780955146305.
  • Watson, Graham E; Rinaldi, Richard A (2005). The British in Germany (BAOR and After): An Organizatinal History. Tiger Lily Publications. ISBN 9780972029698.