The army has a long and very rich history and over the years, military blazer badges have become symbols of unity, allowing groups and even individual members of those groups to be identified by them. On the outside, a badge might seem like just a simple thing, but these items have just as intriguing a history as the organization into which they were born.
The First Military Insignia Introduced in 1760
The very first of the military blazer badges were introduced around 1760, although they weren’t exactly how they appear today. Back in those days, a general officer had to be distinguished from others by the pattern, as well as the arrangement of their cuffs and laces. Today, we might not notice the difference, but back then this arrangement was akin to the wearing of a badge.
The First Military Badges Introduced in 1810
The very first military badges were actually introduced in 1810 and these were designated for the field officers. These badges looked very similar to the way they look today and were made up of stars and crowns. It was fairly common for these badges to be worn on the epaulettes of the shoulders in those days.
The Significance of the Star
The star is often used as a symbol in military blazer badges, but it means different things depending on where it is and how it is adorned. It is quite common for the star symbolizing the Order of the Garter to be worn by those within the Coldstream Guards, life guards and honourable artillery company. You can find stars making up the badges of both the Irish and Scots Guards too.
The Significance of the Crown
You will often see the crown represented on military blazer badges although not many people are aware that this symbol was altered in 1953. The King’s Imperial Crown once adorned many badges from about 1910 and it was then replaced in 1953 by St Edward’s Crown after the coronation of Elizabeth II.
The Changing of the Collar Pattern
By the year 1874, dress codes were altered and this was the same for the military blazer badges. At this point, the collar patterns on the uniforms were changed and individuals could be identified by these. Dragoon guards, for example, could be identified by the color and pattern of their collars alone. It was up until the death of Queen Victoria that this tradition continued.
Gilding Metal Badges
Today, most military blazer badges are made of some sort of material, but in years gone by, they were manufactured out of metal. It was only the rifle regiments and the chaplain’s department of the royal army that had badges made from bronze, instead of gilded metal.
The Office Insignia Rank During World War 1
During the first world war, the insignia to identify the rank of the officer was work on the sleeves. This caused some issues for the officers since they could then be easily identified by snipers. Due to this reason, they actually began wearing tunics with the badges displayed on the shoulders. In the trenches, many people were unhappy with this practice and it wasn’t until 1917 when it was officially sanctioned. It was in 1920 when these cuff badges were finally completely abolished.
Colored Collar Patches
In 1921, officers were not only distinguished by their military blazer badges, but also their colored collar patches. It is quite common to see the rank slide being worn on the chest when the soldier is in full dress, rather than over the shoulder.
Over the years, military blazer badges have changes as much as the army and the tactics they use in their attempts to defeat each other. In the field, it is important that individuals and groups know whose side they are on, as well as who they are commanding and answering to, and badges assist with this. When they are not on the field, these badges can provide them with a sense of camaraderie and belonging, which is particularly important. The history of military badges is a rich, diverse and intriguing one and it will continue to change and evolve with the times, just as the armies that they represent