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Stars, Stripes and Chevrons

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  • Muerrisch 9

Stars, Stripes and Chevrons 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).



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.




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



Buffs Regimental Police, GCB, Marksman and Distance Judging


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Superb delivery of interesting information gentlemen.  Thank you.

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William Dwyer


Great detail. Clear. Many thanks.

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Pat Atkins


More good stuff - these are very helpful summaries, thanks.

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