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Stars, Stripes and Chevrons

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About this blog

Members Meurrisch and Toby Brayley write a series of illustrated notes on the various late Victorian to Great War "Stars, stripes and chevrons" which were awarded variously for good conduct, efficiency, proficiency and re-engagement.

 

Cover photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Entries in this blog

Muerrisch

Chapter 1

STARS, STRIPES AND CHEVRONS

Introduction.

The purpose of this article is to describe the history of stars, stripes and chevrons worn on British Army uniforms in Victorian times and until 1919. Their uses as rank badges are excluded except where essential for completeness. A chevron is taken to be as the French word intended: in the shape of rafters supporting a roof, and thus with the point uppermost. Where the sides “right” and “left” are used, these refer to the wearer, not as seen by the reader. References are included in the text as they occur, to avoid footnotes and endnotes. They are occasionally abbreviated; a full list will be included at the end of this article. The subject is treated chronologically, even though this means that photographs of garments and badges in any quantity only appear from about the time of the Crimean War. Contemporary photography was of very variable quality: some early examples provide superb detail, but most of the later ones have the inbuilt disadvantage of using an orthochromatic process. In such photographs the red end of the spectrum is rendered very dark grey, and the blue end much paler. Where slight exceptions to badge use existed, they will usually be discounted: there always were and are exceptions, and they often involve the Foot Guards, the Rifles or the cavalry.

 

Earliest uses of badges.

 

In the latter days of the 18th Century and the early days of the 19th the more enlightened military commanders (some of whom were not high ranking) of the principal European armies were beginning to absorb the lessons learned in the Americas and on the frontiers of Asia. The natures of the savage foes and the terrain sometimes made rigid formations and drill movements inappropriate. Small groups of soldiers, or individuals, often found themselves isolated and without an officer or non-commissioned officer (NCO) within sight or sound. Voltigeurs, Jaegers, Light Infantry and Riflemen, trained and trusted to use a modest degree of initiative, were one manifestation of adaptation. Another less obvious British reform was the invention of the unique Regimental Number to identify each soldier from enlistment to disbandment, retirement or the grave. Both evolutions gained pace around the time of the great European struggles and the American War of Independence, and it is in that period that the use of stars, stripes and chevrons was born.

 

Dawnay (Badges of Warrant and Non-Commissioned rank in the British Army) and Carman (Badges and Insignia of the British Armed Services) point to the original introduction by the French Army of ‘galons d’ancienneté,’ from 16th April 1771, as a sign worn on the left arm that a soldier had re-engaged for service once (one chevron) or twice (two chevrons) after eight or sixteen years respectively. There is pictorial evidence that at least one British Cavalry regiment was using chevrons (point down) as rank badges (Dawnay). The chevron was also introduced by General George Washington on 7th August 1782 for the Continental Army of the United States, as an “Honorary Badge of Distinction” to be conferred on veteran non-commissioned officers and soldiers who served more than three years with ‘bravery, fidelity and good conduct’. It was described as a narrow piece of cloth of an angular form, to be worn on the left sleeve.

As was often the case, regulation followed piecemeal introduction. Chevrons (point down) were introduced by the British as NCO badges by an Army Order of 1st July 1802 almost exactly at the time that Regulations for the Rifle Corps were introducing a “ring of white cloth” for the right arm as a badge for “chosen men”, who were, in modern terms, unpaid lance-corporals. After decades of threatening and using “stick” (flogging for many offences) the “carrot” of privileges was to be offered. A system of unpaid rewards for length of service or good conduct and increasing responsibility began to spread. Standing Orders of the 85th Light Infantry 1813 have chosen men with a white chevron (not ring) on the right sleeve. The Journal of the Military Historical Society (MHS)  notes the 72nd Regiment using regimental lace in 1816 around the top of each cuff for privates to signify 7, 14 and 21 years’ service;  the 35th using chevrons in the same place for the same service in 1821 and the 72nd to be the same as the 35th in 1824.  These periods were driven by the terms of enlistment, which were   “for life” or for “limited service” of seven years, with optional seven year extensions. To cloud the picture, Royal Marine defaulters were required to wear a white ring signifying bad conduct round the left sleeve in 1828. (MHS).

 

Two points to note: we have “rings” and “chevrons” co-existing, and we have them made variously of white cloth or regimental lace. Regimental lace adorned the infantry coats and was also used to make corporals’ rank badges (whereas sergeants had white lace, the most senior regimental ranks gold) Each chevron, point down, was made of double lace, mounted on a strip of facing cloth, and then sewn separately on cloth of the coat colour. Regimental lace ceased to be worn after 1836, a time of great change.

Illustrations.

From top:

Soldier's coat 26th foot c. 1810

Detail of double lace.

Extract from Rifle Corps Regulations 1800/

Dawnay's sketch of corporals' rank lace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Muerrisch

Chapter 7

Chapter 7.

 

The Post-War years.

Other than for the regular army, our information is scanty. In general, stars, usually of five points have been used for a wide variety of purposes such as Tank Corps First Class Driver worn above the tank badge right upper arm (Priced Vocab 1923) and then by Driver Mechanics, corporal and above, finally all Drivers (ACI 164/1950). The four-point star was used for a variety of purposes, most recently for Cadet Forces, and even as a half badge version.

 

Good Conduct Badges.

 

GCBs at last came officially into line with what had become the practice of allowing veterans to sport more than the regulation six. The Royal Warrant (RW) of 1923 added one for every further five years, and this continued until 1945 at least, according to RW 1940 amended to 1945.

 

Major change to GCB conditions.

 

Queen’s Regulations 1961 paragraph 1086, issued as National Service was ending, awarded badges after 2 ½ years, 5, 10, 15, 20 etc without an upper limit. There has been no change since then to date, but there was a lack of enthusiasm to wear them after about 1970, both by units and by the soldiers themselves. In an all-professional army, good conduct was assumed, and to sport badges rather than rank was seen as stigmatising by some. The badges still appear in current Dress Regulations but they are in fact rarely seen. The Gurkhas wear them, but Household troops ceased to do so over a period in the 1980s. The regiments report (Private correspondence with regimental adjutants) that they mark the Home Service tunics permanently such that they cannot be re-issued, an important consideration in thrifty times.

 

A rather Grumpy LCpl Dutchy Pierce, who ended hi days as a Chelsea Pensioner.

 

and other soldiers who had to drink their pints with the right arm.

 

FINIS

 

 

 

 

 

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Muerrisch

Chapter 6

 

Chapter 6

 

1914 to 1919, The Great War

 

The first major uniform change to concern this article is the virtual abolition of full dress and the stars, stripes and chevrons adorning it. With it went the various undress frocks and equivalents. The surviving uses post-war were almost entirely by Household units and regimental bands.

To bring units to full War Establishment the regular army depended heavily on recalled reservists. Very soon it had to use the Special Reservists. The Foot Guards were even more dependant on recalled men as their Terms of Engagement were three years with the colours and nine with the reserve. The SR and the New Armies were now officially part of the regular army. The TF were different, with some minor eccentricities regarding stars.

 

Chevrons and Stars

 

Regulars went to war with their existing GCBs. Bandsmen, often very long-serving, deployed as stretcher bearers, and we can reasonably expect that among them would be veterans with the full six-bar set. This cost 8 ¼ d according to Clothing Regulations 1913. GCBs and medal ribbons were not provided for the greatcoat, a cause of some annoyance to veterans, indistinguishable from middle-aged hostilities-only men. The SR and the New Armies would have none. Five-point stars for distance judging could be seen on right cuffs, together with stars augmenting grades of skill-at-arms badges on the left cuff. These latter were to be worn above any GCBs. The TF had their five-point stars for each four-year efficiency period, but the lozenges and four-point stars had disappeared with the disbanding of the VF in 1908.

Precedent for granting a GCB after two years embodied service of auxiliaries had been set for the Militia in the Boer War, so in 1916 Instruction 1582 introduced them for the TF.  The SR and the New Armies were entitled by virtue of their regular army status. Men who went on active service very soon after declaration could even qualify for a second badge at five years, just in time for demobilisation or disembodiment. There were no changes in GCB qualifying periods.

All TF soldiers were officially junior to those of the same nominal rank in the SR, who in turn were junior to regulars. This led to great awkwardness and was rescinded soon. We have little doubt that four-year efficiency stars, unique to the ill-regarded TF, quietly disappeared from many right cuffs in 1914 and 1915. As an aside, in the Second World War the V. badge of the RAFVR tended to disappear for much the same reason.

A few stars appeared as part of Divisional badges, and notably the big white five-point star worn by the North Russia Expedition of 1918-1919.

 

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North Russia GMGR group 1919 with white star and the exceptionally rare GMGR cap badge.

 

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Militia with GCB: Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Militia

 

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TF with GCB: Arthur Pitt 46th (1/1st Wessex) CCS RAMC

 

Illustrations To Follow:

Greatcoat on Royal Artillery man who might be either a Paid or Unpaid Acting Bombardier.... lance appointment, an Acting Full Bombardier or a Bombardier. In the first two cases he could have GCBs under the coat.

 TF with GCB: 2303 Pte Cecil Cottis 1/4th Essex Regt, renumbered 35066

 

Muerrisch

Chapter 5

1908 to Declaration of War 1914.

Regular Army

The Terms of Engagement for infantry remained seven years with the colours and five on the First-Class Army Reserve (other arms differed slightly, and the Brigade of Guards greatly so), but there was substantial flexibility for the army and the individual. Reserve service (usually Section B) provided half pay, and in difficult times many men extended liability for further periods of four years in Section D. Reserve service did not attract GCBs, but the individual retained existing ones if recalled to the colours. GCB pay, but not the badges, had ceased for many, being replaced by arm of service proficiency pay. Soldiers who had chosen reserved rights and continued with service pay continued to receive GCB pay for a short while. The six periods remained unchanged; some units allowed soldiers to add more, but not according to the book. Five-point stars continued for distance judging and had also cropped up over a long period denoting various levels of skills-at-arms, such as over crossed rifles and crossed swords.

The Militia.

The experience of the Boer War had demonstrated that the auxiliary forces, however valiant their contribution, had not been fit for purpose, leading to widespread reform. A reserve was needed capable of rapid reinforcement of an Expeditionary Force, equipped accordingly and tolerably well-trained. It is a simplification to say that the Militia became the Special Reserve (SR) in April 1908 because some individual units merged or ceased to exist, and individual militiamen had no obligation to enlist. Nevertheless, for practical purposes the militiamen on existing terms who did not volunteer for the SR were allowed to wither on the vine.

The SR.

Initial training was for six months or so. In each unit there was a substantial cadre of regular soldiers of all ranks, the junior ones sporting their GCBs and stars in regulation fashion. Special Reservists could not qualify. It is possible that they could earn the distance judging star, but no regulation has been traced.

The Volunteer Force.

As with the Militia, the VF ceased to exist in April 1908. Volunteers were invited to join newly constituted units of the Territorial Force (TF) whose prime responsibility was home defence.

The TF.

Regulations for the TF were published on 1st July 1908. Drab SD was compulsory, and as a second garment, units could choose the frock (or equivalent) or the full-dress tunic. The regulations heralded a major change in the various badges under consideration. There was to be no lozenge or any other badge for annual efficiency. The five-point star for continued efficiency was to be worn as hitherto, but qualification was reduced to four years. (paragraph 557). As an aside, one expects that if VF men transitioned virtually seamlessly into the TF they would be allowed to retain their existing badges at least until the old uniform wore out.

Subsequent issues in 1910 and 1912 were unchanged.

 

The Officer Training Corps (OTC)


Founded under the same innovations as the SR and the TF, the corps was designed to produce partly trained young officers for the army in time of war. There was a senior and junior division, the former essentially based on universities, the latter on Public Schools. We do not have their clothing regulations. They were dressed in SD. The OTC was a rationalisation of the existing (since 1860 in some cases) units. Haldane’s intention had been that a substantial number of OTC men would be commissioned in the SR or the TF on leaving school or university but by 1912 of the 18,000 or so who had completed their service in the OTC only 283 had joined the Special Reserve. Cadets were trained towards one of two qualifications: Certificate A, to fit them for promotion from second lieutenant to lieutenant in the TF [16% attained this certificate], signified by a red four-pointed star of the existing design on the upper right arm; Certificate B, to fit them for further promotion to TF captain, a gold four-pointed star (only 2%). AO 100 of 1908 refers.

Lord Reith, of subsequent BBC fame, was proud to qualify for the gold star in his youth.

Past membership of an OTC also had some benefit in the SR: efficient membership shortened probationary training to six months, Certificate A to five months and B to three months.

 

Members occasionally wore, probably outside regulations, the lozenge badge of the defunct VF. We do not know what it signified, but probably efficiency as previously in the VF.

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OCF Gold Star

 

 

 

 

 

OCF Red Star

 

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OCF Red Star                  London University OCF 1910 with lozenge.

 

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Cavalry Scout, Mess Kit,  Distance Judging         

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1st Devonshire c. 1908, crossed rifles with star as best shot in company, crossed rifles in wreath crown above for best SNCO shot in battalion, crossed rifles and star as SNCO of best shooting company

 

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Irish Guards bandsman with five GCB.

 

 

Muerrisch

Chapter 4

 

 

Chapter 4.

1902 to 1908.

The Royal Army Clothing Department ledgers show that preparations were well in hand to supply worsted badges for the new Drab (often called Khaki) Service Dress (SD) introduced by Army Order 8 of 1902. The only unpreparedness was for headdress, not the fault of the RACD because policy was very confused for a few years after the Boer War. (There was a move towards gilding metal badges from 1907 but that need not concern this narrative). Chevrons for SD were identical to rank badges, and made up as singles, twos, threes and fours, in contrast to the gold on scarlet, and gold on blue, in multiples of up to six (Priced Vocab of 1907).

 

Summary.

In 1902 the regular army had GCBs on the left sleeve, with 1d per chevron per day, for soldiers below full corporal and equivalent (Household Cavalry excepted); the Militia had Re-Enlistment badges worn similarly, with no financial benefit other than the Bounty; the Volunteer Force had Efficiency lozenges, also five-year, five-point stars, and SNCO Proficiency four-point stars, all worn on the right arm. Regular soldiers such as drummers attached to auxiliary forces continued to wear any badges earned, a point to note when considering Militia photographs.

The Royal Pay Warrant of 1893 had clarified the matter of GCBs for reserve service: there were to be none accrued, but a soldier recalled to, or rejoining, the colours was allowed to wear his old badges. This remained unchanged for many years.

Junior ranks of the Royal Army Medical Corps continued to be eligible for “dull cherry” rings on the right cuff, one to denote 2nd Class Orderly, two for 1st Class. They had been ordered for tunics in Clothing Regs 1881, and were retained for SD (and indeed Khaki Drill) although rarely seen in photographs.

 

Distance Judging.

A slight complication arose when Army Order 115 of 1902 introduced Distance Judging badges for regular infantry, cavalry and engineers. This and other musketry-related awards appears to have been driven by poor experiences in the Boer War. Unfortunately the emblem chosen was a five-point star, apparently the fall-back option whenever a new badge was needed for the next 100 years. It attracted no extra pay and was worn on the right cuff.

 

All Change.

In 1906 the Royal Pay Warrant (RACD), paragraph 1085, made the first change to GCB qualification periods for many years: the second badge was now for five years, not six. NCOs reduced to the ranks were allowed to retain all their badges actually and notionally accrued. More importantly, the regular army was embracing professionalism by phasing out pay rises for length of service - “Service Pay”, and introducing “Proficiency Pay”, tuned to the arm of service primary task. For the infantry, this included fitness to march fully equipped, and musketry. Consequently GCBs lost their penny pay rise for ever, except in “Native” corps. There is ample photographic evidence that the unofficial practice of wearing more than the theoretical maximum of six badges blossomed around this time. The four-bar cost 5d in 1907. GCBs (and many other badges) were not supposed to be worn on the greatcoat.

 

 The Militia.

Many militiamen served in the Boer War, and Militia Regulations 1904, paragraph 456 et seq awarded GCBs and pay to continue for those qualified after their return to peacetime soldiering. Usually only one badge could have been earned in the time available. The regulations are mute on the subject of the identical re-enlistment badges, creating a problem that was resolved in theory by an RACD entry of 3rd June 1907 which specified a small four-point star on the right cuff for each re-enlistment. Events overtook the badge when the Militia ceased to exist as such in April 1908. Unsurprisingly we have no photographs confirming the badge entering service. This badge later soldiered on for the Officer Cadet Force from 1908.

 

The Volunteer Force.

Many regiments had raised Volunteer Companies to be integrated in regular units in the Boer War. It is highly likely that they would have been awarded a GCB if on active service for the minimum qualifying period of two years. No order has been traced, and Volunteer Regulations 1901 are the last that we hold. These regulations retained all the three badges and their qualifications described in Chapter 3.

 

 

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Buffs Regimental Police, GCB, Marksman and Distance Judging; RAMC 1st Class Orderly with two GCB

 

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Buffs Regimental Police, GCB, Marksman and Distance Judging

Muerrisch

Chapter 3

Chapter 3.

General note.

Many of the illustrations are taken from GWF threads, and many of the identifications owe much to the knowledge and diligence of members. Nevertheless, any mistakes are ours and we welcome corrections.

Regulars from 1860.

The Good Conduct Badge (GCB) qualification periods changed to 3, 8, 13, 18, 23 and 28 years in 1860 (Circular 629) and the badges were called “rings” until 1866, when “stripe” was used in the Royal Warrant. Terms of Engagement became six years with the colours and six with the reserve in 1870 and GCB periods fell into line at 2, 6, 12, 18*, 23*, 28*, with acceleration by two years possible for (*) periods. A comparatively undocumented other incentive was offered to soldiers serving overseas. From time to time manning was smoothed and adjusted by inducements such as offering an early move to the reserve or temporary changes to length of engagement.

Militia badges.

There is a big void in available Militia Regulations until 1880, although earlier editions such as 1874 were issued. Militiamen are not readily identifiable as such unless illustrations are captioned, or unless there are clear depictions of unit badges. Sometimes context can help. The difficulty arises from the fact that their clothing was very similar to that of the regulars, unlike the Volunteer Force.

Here are the only three of which we are certain.

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Details from 3rd Militia Battalion, Northamptonshires c. 1904

From a periodical, 1896, a mix of units but three chevrons and a “3” shoulder title


 

In the 1880 Regulations Militiamen were enlisted for six years and could opt to re-engage for a further four years (paragraph 128 et seq). Provided they fulfilled the age criteria this could be repeated. Re-enlistment was also permitted. The badges were called “Re-enlistment stripes” but from context they were also awarded for re-engagement. They were to be worn on the right cuff for each new commitment. Thus they could be earned after six, ten, fourteen years and so forth. Paragraph 952 does not describe the stripes, nor allow the award for re-enlistment, but this changed subsequently. It will be noted that regular soldiers also wore their GCBs on the right cuff until 1881.

1881 and all change.

Not least among the reforms culminating in 1881 was the positioning of chevrons. Badges of rank for regulars and auxiliaries were to be confined to the right arm, those of four chevrons (the most senior staff sergeants) were to be on the lower sleeve, points upwards. At the same time, all GCBs and re-enlistment badges had to move to the left cuff or risk, for example, an 18 year service private soldier being mistaken for a quartermaster sergeant. Terms of Engagement changed in 1881 to seven and five, and the GCB qualifications remained unchanged. Substantive corporals lost good conduct badges at the same time. Since 1878 NCOs reduced to the ranks could wear their notionally earned GCBs minus one badge. This continued all the way to 1900.

Chevrons were generally supplied as singles, pairs, threes, and fours, such as these Guards Pattern scarlet Home Service Tunic versions.

Royal Marine Artillery and Light Infantry followed army regulations for the badges.
 

 

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Hussar pre- 1881 GCB right cuff

50th Regiment band corporal pre- 1881

1866. Private and corporal, the latter with three chevrons denoting at least 13 years service

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Pre-1881 1st Shropshire Rifle Volunteers tunic on QM sergeant with full panoply of stars and lozenge

 

 

Bandsman, Marksman, Berkshire Regiment. c. 1883 

 

Seaforth Highlander 1890


 

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RA Trumpeter, Gunnery Prize, nine-button frock.

Long serving soldier of the Queen c. 1900

And a very long server: R. Inn. Fusiliers 1897, Tirah, LCpl 2293 Dutchy Pierce with one GCB more than regulation.


 

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LCpl Pioneer, 2nd RWF c. 1902 wearing optional blue patrol jacket

Scots Guards Drummer showing unique Brigade inversion of chevrons

LCpl J Bricknell, Pte W Tector c. 1902 Green Howards

 


 

The Volunteer Force (VF) from 1879.

As the year began the VF had the cuff ring to denote annual efficient service for all ranks, and a four-point star for proficient sergeants. Army Circular Clause 37 was issued in February which introduced a lozenge shape for annual efficiency, and a five-point star for five years efficient service. The award of these new badges was apparently back dated. The badges were for the right cuff, with the lozenge below any stars. There was considerable freedom in the colour of the lozenge, the star was to be of the colour of the cuff knot design. Senior soldiers often decided not to wear the lozenge if they had a large number of stars ……. seven were not unknown. There were rules on positioning various multiples, rarely observed.

The badge to denote proficient and certificated senior NCOs was ordered to be worn above all other badges. This was not always adhered to: some colour sergeants preferred the crown to be uppermost.

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Colour Sergeant Bell, 1902. Badges correctly worn.

Cambridgeshire VR, Proficiency badge in non-standard position

Royal Artillery QMS


 

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Dorset IY c. 1903 with seven-point non-standard efficiency stars

Shropshire Light Infantry, six stars.

Black Watch c. 1903, seven stars, no lozenge, proficiency badge above rank


 

Efficient sappers of the RE Submarine Miners and Electrical Engineers sported a special grenade badge to denote efficiency (VR 1891).

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RE Electrical Engineer Sapper with grenade efficiency and star

RE Submarine Miner, Piper, Tyne Division, c. 1900, with grenade efficiency

Royal Marine Light Infantry c. 1904, five GCB.

 


 

Chapter 4 will take the account on from 1902 and the introduction of service dress.

 

Muerrisch

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

 

Good Conduct Badges.

 

The piecemeal adoption of conduct badges by regiments was regularised by a Royal Warrant of 18th August 1836, followed by a Circular Letter of 1st September, and by GO 526 of 10th October. The latter specified wear on the right arm, and a Circular Memorandum of 3rd January 1837 ordered “immediately above the cuff, the centre point uppermost”, with a pattern sealed for universal use. They were clearly simple heraldic chevrons in the correct sense. Good conduct would be rewarded throughout the regular army for all corporals and below with a “mark of distinction” and 1d per day for each seven year period up to a total of four badges and 4d..

 

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King’s Regulations 1837 refer to distinguishing marks but with no description. Queen Victoria, new to the throne, issued a further warrant in 1839 which made no significant changes to badges or pay The qualifying periods remained unchanged in 1844, according to a soldier’s Account Book (MHS) but had changed by 1848 to become 5, 10, 15, 20*, 25* and 30* years. The change was linked to new terms of engagement in 1847, whereby the initial period became 10 years with option to serve to pension at 21 years (Victorian army at Home, JR Skelley). The asterisked periods (*) denote that a very well conducted soldier could qualify two years early in each instance. Waterloo service from 1815 counted for two years, and in the West Indies two years counted as three. The material of the badges clearly differed between arms of service: those for corporals of Light Dragoons cost 1/-, of Heavy Dragoons 9d, cavalry other ranks 3d, and infantry 2d. Other arms were not specified.

 

It is worth underlining the fact that Sovereign’s Regulations and Pay Warrants were essentially playing catch-up by recording and summarising earlier decisions and innovations. Complete records of interim Orders are very difficult to find as they were essentially ephemeral.

 

The Standing Orders of the 53rd Regiment, then in India in 1851, leave no doubt that the “Ring Men” were privileged. Whereas the original design of the badge was a chevron, the use of “Ring” here, and in soldiers’ documents of 1853 (Corps of Armourers) and 1857 (6th Foot) suggests that a change had taken place. “Ring” is clearly circular, “chevron” is clearly not, and this usage persists until at least 1864 (41st Foot). Contemporary illustrations show variations such as Highland veterans of the Crimean War who appear to have curved conduct chevrons. Perhaps the chevron continued all the way round the cuff, or perhaps custom varied from regiment to regiment.  

 

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Volunteer Rifle Corps and the Volunteer Force.

From 1859 the new Volunteer Rifle Corps movement introduced a complication. Locally raised units were formed under the auspices of county lord-lieutenants amid fears of French invasion. The first surviving central regulations of 1861 do not describe distinctive badges, but those of 1863 introduce a ring of silver lace, ¾ inch wide, on the cuff of the right sleeve for “efficient” members of the corps (Regulations for the Volunteer Force 1863 paragraph 67). Illustrations of soldiers wearing a cuff ring from this date might be of regular soldiers or volunteers.

 

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Drummer.

 

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No ranking visible.

 

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Artillery Staff Sergeant with six point star.

 

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Sergeant, ex-regular with campaign medals.

 

 

Stars appear.

There is now an unfortunate gap in the accessible Volunteer record until 1878. In addition to the ring badge for efficient soldiers (the qualification was based on attendance for “drills”) Volunteer Force Regulations 1878 paragraph 665 et seq) added that sergeants passed as “proficient” were to wear a star over the chevrons on the right arm, and over the crown if worn. The regulation did not define “proficient”. The star was to be of four points, but other shapes exist, notably six-point stars for some artillery.  It is considered highly likely that “the stars came out” over a period substantially earlier than 1878. See, for example, the Rifles sergeant illustrated, with an eight-point badge.

 

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Sergeant of Rifles with musketry badge, also an eight-point star over chevrons.

 

Chevrons on both sleeves.

Fusilier, Highland and Light Infantry regular soldiers enjoyed the privilege of wearing ranking on both arms, and in the 1870s some wore good conduct badges similarly. 

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Corporal, 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1868 pattern tunic and Pioneer, Northumberland Fusiliers, c1872

 

Militia.

The Militia do not appear to have adopted any of the various badges described in this article until about 1880, and then for a different purpose. Militiamen were a good source of recruitment for the regular army and augmented them in times of war, whereby each man attracted a massive ten guinea bounty when enlisting for seven years. In the Napoleonic Wars substantial recourse was made to the Militia: 15,595 men in 1804, a similar figure in 1807 and double the number in 1811 (The Constitutional Force. GJ Hay).  Militia re-enlistment and re-engagement badges will be described in the third article.

 
   
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