Parachutist Badge (United Kingdom)
The British Armed Forces award a range of Parachutist Badges to those qualified as military parachutists. The version awarded depends largely on the unit or role that the individual fills following qualification.
During World War II with forming of the first British Airborne units parachute training was a 12-day course carried out at the No. 1 Parachute Training School, RAF Ringway. Recruits initially jumped from a converted barrage balloon and finished with five parachute jumps from an aircraft. Anyone failing to complete a parachute jump was returned to his old unit (known as "returned to unit" or "RTU"). At the end of the course, new Paras were presented with their maroon beret and parachute wings and posted to a parachute battalion.
Currently British military personnel must complete the Basic Parachute Course, which is held by No 1 Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton, a 9-jump course attended by personnel from all branches of the UK Armed Forces. Troops make each descent from a C-130 or Skyvan aircraft using the Low Level Parachute at heights of 800 ft and 1000 ft. On successful completion of their nine descents, trainees are presented with their 'wings' by the Officer Commanding No. 1 Parachute Training School, and return to their units as qualified parachutists.
The British Army has three parachute qualification badges for non SF qualified soldiers:
- Assistant Parachute Jump Instructor;
- Parachute Badge with Wings (also used by the Royal Marines), and
- Parachute Badge without Wings.
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'.
SAS pattern parachute wings, designed by Lieutenant Jock Lewes and based on the stylised sacred Ibis wings of Isis of Egyptian iconography depicted in the décor of Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo, are worn on the right shoulder. After a qualifying number of active service "jumps", they were worn on the left breast above medal ribbons.
Qualified RAF and RAF Regiment personnel wear a badge similar to the Army's Parachute Badge with Wings, formerly on an RAF blue-grey backing, since 1972 on navy blue; there is an RAF equivalent to the 'lightbulb'. The Parachute Jump Instructor badge is categorised as a Flying Badge.
- "RAF Brize Norton". Ministry of Defence.
- "The Sign of a Specialist".
- Adjutant General's Administrative Instructions Para 43.198 a.
- Adjutant General's Administrative Instructions Para 43.198 b.
- "Special Boat Service Dress Regulations" (PDF).
- Davis, Brian Leigh (1983). British Army Uniforms and Insignia of World War Two. Arms and Armour Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-85368-609-2.
- Wellsted, Ian (1997). SAS with the Maquis. Greenhill Books.
- http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafcms/mediafiles/9647CE1A_E2F1_FD48_EE58A77DCDE87EBE.pdf AP 1358 - Uniform Dress and Appearance Regulations, Chapter 7 - Distinguishing Insignia