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Remembered Today:

Divisonal Insignia


Martyn Gibson
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Does any one have any knowledge on what set the precedent for Divisonal Insignia?.

I presume that there was nothing like it prior to the outbreak of WW1 so my questions are:

1. Who instigated it?

2. Which division was the first?

3. What was the design?

Sorry about this but it's an idle mind at work and I just got to wondering!!!!

Thanks in advance

Regards

Martyn

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I can't be too specific as I don't really know, but unit insignia was found on vehicles from way before the war. However, Divisional insignia on uniforms didn't make an appearance until mid-1915.

I don't know who was the first, but I know that the Guards Division and the 51st Highland Division had them pretty early on (how early, I don't know!, but I'd hazard a guess at August/September 1915)

Dave.

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Martyn,

Although not strictly Divisional insignia, at regimental level, the Northumberland Fusiliers adopted their first battle patches during the South African war. From 1899 - 1902 the officers wore a two inch square of red cloth in the centre upper back of their KD jackets. While on the upturned side of the "slouch-hat" a scarlet cloth 'V' was worn on a square cloth patch, which was possibly the regimental facing colour of "gosling green".

It's possible that they weren't alone in adopting cloth insignia during the South African War, but only other Forum members would be able to tell you whether or not the particular regiments they follow wore them.

Graham.

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Martyn,

Although not strictly Divisional insignia, at regimental level, the Northumberland Fusiliers adopted their first battle patches during the South African war. From 1899 - 1902 the officers wore a two inch square of red cloth in the centre upper back of their KD jackets. While on the upturned side of the "slouch-hat" a scarlet cloth 'V' was worn on a square cloth patch, which was possibly the regimental facing colour of "gosling green".

It's possible that they weren't alone in adopting cloth insignia during the South African War, but only other Forum members would be able to tell you whether or not the particular regiments they follow wore them.

Graham.

Never thought of those!

2/East Lancs - yellow diamond on righthand side of Pith helmets.

?/Manchesters - green rectangle.

Dave.

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Guys

Many thanks for the replies. I can feel another!!!!!! branch of research coming on. :D

Martyn

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Martyn,

Try and get hold of a copy of "Divisional & Other Signs" by Capt Wheeler-Holohan, which was first published 1920 and reprinted in 1992 by Ray Westlake. Plus there is the Osprey Books, Men at Arms Series covering the Great War which have a lot of photographs and coloured illustrations of WWI battle patches. If you ever get the opportunity also buy the Australian WWI Cloth Insignia Poster.

Graham.

Beppo,

I believe you're right about the Union Army, but as Martyn's post seemed more directed towards British Forces I decided to keep my answer within his query.

Graham.

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According to Mike Chappell in Osprey no182 'British battle Insignia 1914-18' he says that it was the New Army Divisions that first brought it to the Western Front.

regards

Arm

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Guys

Thanks again for all the info. As always in awe at the depth of knowledge available on this site.

Regards

Martyn

PS If any of you have the winning numbers on tonights lotto I would also be very grateful for that info. LOL

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A new low, I'm quoting myself from August 2003:

The Divisional emblem supposedly goes back to General Phil Kearny of the Union Army in the American Civil War. The story goes that Kearny stopped to harangue some malingerers along the road and after verbally berating them he discovered they were not troops of his command. He apologised and then instituted a diamond shaped patch to be worn on the kepi of his troops so they would be easily distinguishable. Kearny was killed at Chantilly in 1862 but his idea was developed by Joseph Hooker when he was in command of the Army of the Potomac. Hooker developed corps inisignia (Circle-First Corps, Trefoil-Second, Diamond-Third etc.) and alternated colors for each division within each Corps.

These emblems were normally worn on the kepi but due to the newness of the concept can sometimes be seen worn on the breast.

The Corps emblem was continued in the Spanish-American War during the First World War US Divisional emblems were normally chosen by the commanding officer and were used to mark equipment during the move overseas. Normally for the AEF the Divisional emblems normally corresponded to the region of the US that the personnel of the Division originated from.

Take care,

Neil

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I warn you - this way insanity lies. As we found simply trying to nail down the MGC unit signs, the contradictions, replications of error and confusions between the sources make it a mountain to climb!

Not that it isn't worth trying; took nearly 2000 years for someone to get tp the top of Everest after all. Whosoever produces the nearly definitive book (the Osprey is good, but the space constraints left an awful lot out) might well clean up.

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Not that it isn't worth trying; took nearly 2000 years for someone to get tp the top of Everest after all. Whosoever produces the nearly definitive book (the Osprey is good, but the space constraints left an awful lot out) might well clean up.

Put me down for a copy - I promise to be your first customer :D

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Hello,

Another thought, the New Armies were raised and trained as divisions and therefore the divisional idea was much stronger than in the regular army where the regiment was permanent and the formation transient. If that was the case the division would have sought some distinguishing mark. Such a mark worn on the sleeve would have much the same function as a cap badge and would not be a means of identification.

Old Tom

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Tks for the info guys

Martyn

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