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 worn to protect the throat. With the disuse of armour they were lost. The cloth patch on the collar however evolved from contrasting cloth used to reinforce the buttonholes at the collar of a uniform coat. (This is perhaps most evident in the traditional commonwealth design for Colonels, which has a button and a narrow line of darker piping where the slit buttonhole would have been.) The patches were introduced as insignia during the South African War (1889-1902). They have been used ever since.
In Austria collar patches of the Federal Army report the rank and the arm of service. They are also used in the police. Traditional, corps colours (German: Waffenfarben or Adjustierungsfarben) dominate the basic colours of the rank insignia.
- See also:
The galleries below show examples of Parolis
Patrouilleführer of the k.k. mountain infantry 1906-1918
Major Paroli with special badge of the k.u.k. railway regiment
Oberst, Paroli with dark-red, vertical stripe 1916
In Australia traditional gorget patches are worn by Army colonels and general officers as well as Navy Midshipmen. In the St John Ambulance Australia First Aid Services Branch gorget patches designate State Staff Officers and National Staff Officers from those who are officers of a division or region.
In Bangladesh Armed Forces officers of the rank of Colonel equivalent and above wear ‘Gorget Patches’. They are respectively Red, Sky Blue & Black in color. For Colonel and equivalent it exhibits a "Shapla". Each flag rank adds a star to it onwards.
With the restoration of historical nomenclature and features to the Canadian Army in 2013reinstated insignia included traditional gorget patches for colonels and general officers. For combat branches these are in scarlet with gold embroidery for generals. However the gorget patches worn by senior officers of the Medical Branch are dull cherry, the Dental Branch emerald green and the Chaplain Branch purple.
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.
Collar patches / gorget patches (de: Kragenspiegel, also Kragenpatte[n] or Arabesque[n]), are to be worn on the gorget (on both collar points) of military uniform in German speaking armed forces.
However, collar patch insignia for General officers of the Heer (Army) are traditional called Arabesque collar patch, also Larish embroidery, Old Prussian embroidery, or Arabesquen embroidery (de: "Arabesken-Kragenspiegel", also "Larisch-Stickerei", "Altpreußische Stickerei" or "Arabeskenstickerei").
Wehrmacht continues this. 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 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.
Senior officers, especially the commanding officer of each disciplinary unit in Hong Kong use gorgets patches in their formal uniforms:
- Hong Kong Police
- Hong Kong Fire Services
- Hong Kong Correctional Services
- Customs and Excise
- Hong Kong Immigration
- Government Flying Service (Hong Kong)
The various services inherited their used as Hong Kong was a former British colony.
In India, coloured gorget patches are used by senior-ranking Armed Forces officers of selection-grade rank (colonels, naval captains and group captains) and above. Full colonels in the Indian Army wear crimson patches with golden braid to signify their commanding officer rank. Captains in the Indian Navy wear twin silver oakleaves set perpendicular to each other and mounted on golden patches, while Indian Air Force group captains wear the same insignia on blue patches.
Officers in the Indian Armed Forces of one-star through five-star rank wear a corresponding number of stars in gold (Indian Army) or silver (Indian Navy and Indian Air Force) on scarlet (Indian Army), gold (Indian Navy) or blue (Indian Air Force) collar patches. Officers of four and five-star rank wear an oak leaf wreath on each gorget patch. Only the three armed force chiefs hold four-star rank and only a field marshal or a marshal of the air force wears five stars. Till date, Sam Manekshaw and Kodandera Madappa Cariappa are the only two officers who have been appointed to the rank of Field Marshal, while Arjan Singh has been appointed to the rank of Marshal of the Indian Air Force. If the Indian Navy rank of Admiral of the Fleet is ever created, the holder would presumably wear five silver stars on a gold patch.
Senior commandants and deputy inspector-generals (below four years service) in the paramilitary Indian Coast Guard, who rank with Indian Navy captains, wear a similar insignia of twin golden oakleaves set perpendicularly to each other and mounted on navy-coloured patches. Coast Guard officers of one-star through three-star rank wear a corresponding number of gold stars on their patches.All senior ranking police officers of the Rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) or Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) (both ranks being equivalent with Deputy Commissioner's are only in towns which has moved over to a commissioner system of policing this rank being equivalent to a full colonel in the Army) get a dark blue patch with a silver lining. This remains the same for the next higher rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) or Additional Commissioner of Police (Addl. CP). However, the next senior officer, The Inspector General (IG) or Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP) has a silver design of a long leaf rather than a simple silver lining on their patch. This remains the same for the ranks of Commissioner of Police and the Director General of Police (DGP).
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 USSR in 1924-1943 served as the primary insignia of military ranks. The rank system changed several times, and collar patches were different in 1924–1935, 1935–1940 and 1940–1943 systems. 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, general officers or senior officers of the British Army wear gorget patches according to their 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.
Introduced for British Army staff officers in India in 1887, the patches subsequently proliferated. Different colours were introduced to indicate the branch of service and by 1940 one finds:
- bright blue (engineers)
- dark blue (ordnance)
- pale blue (education)
- scarlet (general staff duties)
- cherry (medical)
- maroon (veterinary)
- purple (chaplains)
- green (dental)
- yellow (accountants)
During World War I all staff officers from second lieutenants upwards wore gorget patches and hatbands of these colours, making them conspicuous in the trenches and leading to the nickname of "the gilded staff". In 1921 coloured collar patches were restricted to full colonels and above.
- Dictionary to the German military history, 1st edition (Liz.5, P189/84, LSV:0547, B-Nr. 746 635 0), military publishing house of the GDR (VEB) – Berlin, 1985, Volume 1, page 396, definition: „Versions of collar patches“.
- "Captain Varghese Mathew assumes office as Naval officer in charge of Kerala". Metro Vaartha. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- "IAF Uniform Reference Book" (PDF). Indian Air Force. 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- "Indian Coast Guard Uniforms" (PDF). Indian Coast Guard. 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- 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
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