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RAF BADGE


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As a stonemason I have designed and erected many war memorials and previous to retiring, my company H L Perfitt had the contract to provide service pattern memorials for the MOD and as such I have digitised many post 1945 badges. Via a google search, I found this site as I have been requested to carve a WW1 RAF badge. I am willing to digitise and place online for non commercial use but I cannot find a good line drawing to digitise. Please can anyone assist?

 

Keith Rackham

 

anglia.stone@btinternet.com

 

 

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Hi Keith and welcome to the forum

 

I believe this is the thread which lead you here. It might be worth sending a PM to those members who posted in it.

 

Good luck with your search

 

David

 

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Before 1st April 1918 you would require the Royal Flying Corps Badge.  After that date the RAF crest would be appropriate.

RFC Badge.jpg

 

RAF Crest 1.jpg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I believe Keith is looking for this image (which I presume sits in the gap between the two in post #3 above). I have cropped this from an internet search which linked to the thread I mentioned in my first reply, so I do not have original title to it as that would sit with one of the members who originally replied to that thread.

Regards

David

 

image.png.87734dc868243944d09d1ca908d23ea9.png

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To add an interesting side issue, I was looking to discover whether the Royal Flying Corps insignia ever included the motto 'Per Ardua ad Astra' which I understand was coined for it. Obviously it's not on any badges worn on clothing, but I was interested in the official insignia as used for ceremonial purposes. I wrote to the College of Arms, who are usually pretty good at responding to enquiries, but I see that this particular enquiry has remained unanswered. Any ideas about the inclusion of that motto? Has anyone ever seen it?

Regards, Annette

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I have sent a pm to the member who I believe is the originator of the image in my post #4 pointing him towards this thread so hopefully contact will be made!

David

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1 hour ago, Annette Carson said:

To add an interesting side issue, I was looking to discover whether the Royal Flying Corps insignia ever included the motto 'Per Ardua ad Astra' which I understand was coined for it. Obviously it's not on any badges worn on clothing, but I was interested in the official insignia as used for ceremonial purposes. I wrote to the College of Arms, who are usually pretty good at responding to enquiries, but I see that this particular enquiry has remained unanswered. Any ideas about the inclusion of that motto? Has anyone ever seen it?

Regards, Annette

 

The origin of the motto is well recorded and can be seen via both, the RAF Museum and Wikipedia, Annette:

 

The first Commanding Officer of the Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing) was Colonel Frederick Sykes. He asked his officers to come up with a motto for the new service; one which would produce a strong esprit de corps.

Not long after this, two junior officers were walking from the Officers' Mess at Farnborough to Cody's Shed on Laffan Plain. As they walked they discussed the problem of the motto and one of them, Lieutenant J. S. Yule, mentioned the phrase Sic itur ad Astra, from Virgil. He then expanded on this with the phrase Per Ardua ad Astra, which he translated as, "Through Struggles to the Stars". Colonel Sykes approved of this as the motto and forwarded it to the War Office. It was then submitted to the King, who approved its adoption.[4]

Yule is believed to have borrowed the phrase from Sir Henry Rider Haggard's fantasy novel The People of the Mist(1894). The first chapter includes the sentence: "To his right were two stately gates of iron fantastically wrought, supported by stone pillars on whose summit stood griffins of black marble embracing coats of arms and banners inscribed with the device 'Per Ardua ad Astra'". It is possible that Rider Haggard had taken it from the Irish family of Mulvany, who had used it as their family motto for centuries, translating it as "Through Struggles to the Stars".

There is no single definitive translation, as both "ardua" and "astra" can carry a range of associations. The Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces most often translate it as "Through Adversity to the Stars”.

 

As regards it’s practical usage by the RFC, it was not worn on uniform Insignia but was frequently added on a scroll beneath the RFC badge, or wings, as say a letterhead device/motif, and below enamelled RFC Wings as part of some patterns of sweetheart brooch.  See:

 

1.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Flying_Corps#/media/File%3ARoyal_Flying_Corps_cap_badge.jpg

 

2.  https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-a-christmas-greetings-card-1913-sent-by-c-a-h-longcroft-of-the-2nd-131023394.html?pv=1&stamp=2&imageid=BB87063B-340A-4AA4-B480-94EB0DFF19C2&p=181734&n=0&orientation=0&pn=1&searchtype=0&IsFromSearch=1&srch=foo%3dbar%26st%3d0%26pn%3d1%26ps%3d100%26sortby%3d2%26resultview%3dsortbyPopular%26npgs%3d0%26qt%3droyal%20flying%20corps%26qt_raw%3droyal%20flying%20corps%26lic%3d3%26mr%3d0%26pr%3d0%26ot%3d0%26creative%3d%26ag%3d0%26hc%3d0%26pc%3d%26blackwhite%3d%26cutout%3d%26tbar%3d1%26et%3d0x000000000000000000000%26vp%3d0%26loc%3d0%26imgt%3d0%26dtfr%3d%26dtto%3d%26size%3d0xFF%26archive%3d1%26groupid%3d%26pseudoid%3d%26a%3d%26cdid%3d%26cdsrt%3d%26name%3d%26qn%3d%26apalib%3d%26apalic%3d%26lightbox%3d%26gname%3d%26gtype%3d%26xstx%3d0%26simid%3d%26saveQry%3d%26editorial%3d1%26nu%3d%26t%3d%26edoptin%3d%26customgeoip%3d%26cap%3d1%26cbstore%3d1%26vd%3d0%26lb%3d%26fi%3d2%26edrf%3d%26ispremium%3d1%26flip%3d0

 

3.  https://pin.it/ler34g5bkskhoc

 

4.  https://www.markparkhouse.co.uk/shop/jewellery/wwi-gold-silver-royal-flying-corps-sweetheart-brooch/#prettyPhoto[product-gallery]/0/

 

The RFC was very much an Army unit and followed standard practice of having a ‘crest’ and a ‘badge’.  The former utilised wings and the motto, which latter was common practice.  The badge was frequently  a feature from within the crest and the RFC were no different, if you observe the central motif within the wings you will see it is the badge.  Crests were most commonly used as letterheads but could also appear as gate signs.  The Netheravon officers’ mess where I lived for a few years had the RFC crest over the main door/entrance.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Hi Frogsmile - yes, the origin of the motto is known, as I said. But I was taking my cue from Keith Rackham's enquiry about war memorials and extending this enquiry to the RFC.  Since the badge worn on uniforms is not the complete insignia of the service unit, wouldn't the insignia in full including motto be appropriate for a war memorial?  I am of course aware that Keith was asking specifically about the RAF, NOT the RFC!  Nevertheless I raised it as a side issue about the RFC because this is something that interests me.

 

I'm avoiding use of the word crest as I'm not familiar with its use outside of heraldic coats of arms. I'm not even sure that I'm right to use the word insignia either, because that too has a particular meaning as well as a general one.  You see a lot of brooches and keepsakes with varied designs, but only one design would be authorized by the College of Arms so I had wondered in an idle moment what it was.

Cheers, Annette

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4 hours ago, Annette Carson said:

Hi Frogsmile - yes, the origin of the motto is known, as I said. But I was taking my cue from Keith Rackham's enquiry about war memorials and extending this enquiry to the RFC.  Since the badge worn on uniforms is not the complete insignia of the service unit, wouldn't the insignia in full including motto be appropriate for a war memorial?  I am of course aware that Keith was asking specifically about the RAF, NOT the RFC!  Nevertheless I raised it as a side issue about the RFC because this is something that interests me.

 

I'm avoiding use of the word crest as I'm not familiar with its use outside of heraldic coats of arms. I'm not even sure that I'm right to use the word insignia either, because that too has a particular meaning as well as a general one.  You see a lot of brooches and keepsakes with varied designs, but only one design would be authorized by the College of Arms so I had wondered in an idle moment what it was.

Cheers, Annette

 Hi Annette,

I’m sorry if you thought that was a sucking eggs reply, my full answer was really for the benefit of other readers who might not be as knowledgeable as you, but I should have made that clear.

 

As regards crests and badges, the RN and RAF both have a generic crest and then ship’s and squadron badges and both of them, traditionally, use the former on gravestones.  Because of its feudal origins linking back prior to a standing Army, the Army is different and before WW1 it did not have a central or unifying crest (King Albert of the Belgians played a key part in creating one) and instead had a crest and badge for each regiment and corps and, unlike the other two Services, traditionally used the regimental badge rather than crest on its gravestones.  The RFC, being an Army unit followed this practice, hence the badge, but after 1 April the RAF followed the Naval practice of using its newly designed crest that as a historical thread incorporated the RFC motto.  I hope that that helps with your query.

 

Best regards,

 

FS

Edited by FROGSMILE
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A fascinating reply as ever, Frogsmile! No element of sucking eggs, badges are well outside my area of knowledge,  so I'm grateful to have this clarification. What you say about the British Army is very intriguing. With my historian's hat on I would have expected Charles II to place a firm royal stamp on the army after recovering the throne ... quite an oversight that he didn't link the army to the crown by a royal armorial grant. I wonder if that underlies the reason for the Navy being styled the Senior Service, which always puzzles me, or am I straying too far into the realms of conjecture? Anyway, you've answered my question by explaining that the regimental badge would be used on RFC memorials prior to the RAF being established. It's all very complicated, and we're lucky to have someone like you who has made a study of it.

Cheers, Annette

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14 hours ago, Annette Carson said:

A fascinating reply as ever, Frogsmile! No element of sucking eggs, badges are well outside my area of knowledge,  so I'm grateful to have this clarification. What you say about the British Army is very intriguing. With my historian's hat on I would have expected Charles II to place a firm royal stamp on the army after recovering the throne ... quite an oversight that he didn't link the army to the crown by a royal armorial grant. I wonder if that underlies the reason for the Navy being styled the Senior Service, which always puzzles me, or am I straying too far into the realms of conjecture? Anyway, you've answered my question by explaining that the regimental badge would be used on RFC memorials prior to the RAF being established. It's all very complicated, and we're lucky to have someone like you who has made a study of it.

Cheers, Annette

 

I’m glad to help Annette,

The Royal Navy are the Senior Service because they were the first to be put on a permanent footing by formal decree, and funded by annual levy (taxation).  The Army, however, was only raised as and when required, by utilising County resources of manpower allocated by each Parish under the auspices of ‘County Lieutenants’, who were themselves appointed by the Crown.  These citizen soldiers, selected by ballot, were known as ‘militia’ and they were funded (paid and equipped) via taxation raised as and when needed, for a specific period of time, by parliament either, when urged to do so by the crown, or by their own initiative when deemed necessary.  This created an inherent friction that in the civil war led to militia fighting on both sides, according to the political beliefs of those who led and funded them.  

 

Conversely, the crown had a small, permanent life guard of horse and foot that was the only standing force in existence during periods when the militia was not ‘embodied’ (mobilised).  To this small force of Royal troops was added a Standing Army of regular line regiments for the first time in 1660, the existence of which had to be endorsed annually by parliament (now 5-yearly), in order to prevent the Nation becoming a deeply unpopular ‘military state’, as it had done under Cromwell.  

 

The militia, a ‘peoples army’, if you will, and much older than the regular army, continued to exist under County authority.  It was not until July 1881, that the militia regiments formally merged with the regular regiments to create the British Army as we know it today.  It is not a ‘Royal Army’, per se, but individual regiments/corps might be honoured with Royal titles and associations, as a mark of special approval for long and/or gallant service.  There is no rule as to when this Royal approbation might take place and the Royal Flying Corps were specially honoured to be made Royal when they were founded from the RE balloon section and (officially but not in reality) naval aviation elements, in 1912.

Crests.jpg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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