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-   -   Early Para Wings (https://www.britishbadgeforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80666)

tcrown 06-09-20 09:03 PM

Early Para Wings
 
9 Attachment(s)
It is well accepted by collectors that the early parachute wings were manufactured by Lewis Falk Limited. A true characteristic of early wings is split or detached feathers.

The first wings were issued in Jan 1941 after ACI 1589 dated 28/12/1940 was published describing the badge itself and the qualifying conditions.
From the photos available in the IWM collection, we can get an idea about the way these badges were worn at the very beginning.
Attachment 230121 Attachment 230122
These two photos were taken in early January 1941 during a parachute demonstration before General Brooke (C in C Home Forces). Lt Col Ivor Jackson, CO of 11th SAS (the only British parachute force at the time) is pictured wearing his Para badge uncut in its full rectangular original form (I’m wondering who the officer, likely his 2nd in C, was standing next to him). Note also the parachutists in the background emplaning with their gear and newly issued smocks. They don’t wear any wings as the badge was at the time only permitted on BD. This was changed on 12 Feb 1941 (ACI 204) when wearing para badges was authorized on smocks (called officially ‘gabardine jump jacket’).
Attachment 230123
This photo (source: ParaData) shows members of C troop 11th SAS wearing badges on their smock. Interestingly, the second individual from the left first row (Cpl A. Phillips) was tragically killed in a parachute accident on 16 Feb 1941. We can just assume that all parachute members were eager to wear their badge once permitted.

Attachment 230124 Attachment 230128
A photo of the recent issued badge was taken on 21 Feb 1941 (IWM) with its typical rectangular form. The split of feathers is clearly visible on both period and modern photos.

It looks like the practice of wearing the badge in an uncut form was shortly discontinued on BD as can be seen in this snapshot of a movie taken in Feb 1941 (source: IWM ‘The Service Takes to Silk’).
Attachment 230129

Lt Col Jackson himself wore trimmed wings when he presented his unit to the King in May 1941.
Attachment 230130

These type of wings although issued first, continued to be worn well beyond late war years. They are not particularly rare and the collector has to be aware that uncut (unissued) or oval shape wings don’t make them any earlier than they are.
I have added a couple of photos of trimmed examples of the same wing type that could have been issued during mid or even late war.
Attachment 230127 Attachment 230126

In conclusion, these wings were widely distributed during the war and don’t have to be confused with the early and brief practice of wearing uncut badges.
I’ll be posting later a few details on another early badge that is much scarcer: the “cloud” type parachute canopy.

Happy to hear other opinions.
Cheers
Pierre

rsunday 07-09-20 10:11 AM

Pierre,
Very interesting information and photos.
I am waiting for more!
Regards
Rafal

Mike B 07-09-20 10:56 AM

Interesting thread - like Rafal, waiting for more - including the early 'cloud canopy' pattern

manchesters 07-09-20 11:54 AM

Thanks Pierre,

An easy to understand guide.
I like it

regards

Tonomachi 07-09-20 09:18 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Great information and I thought I would share these photos of how a bundle of these wings came from the factory "pre-trimmed" that I kept the photographs from an insignia dealer's website called Flying Tiger Antiques. I am assuming this style wing was initially hand trimmed from the original issued rectangular piece and later the factory trimmed them for maybe uniformity. Do you know if these factory trimmed wings were provided during the war or after?

Attachment 230178

Attachment 230179

Attachment 230180

Attachment 230181

tcrown 07-09-20 10:43 PM

Thanks for the kind words everyone. I'm glad this is of interest to the community.

Great photos, Tonomachi. This reminds me of a post by Jon (Postwarden) some time ago:
“It is worth noting that not until January 1945 did the Ordnance Depot issuing the parachute badge suggest that cloth could be save by supplying the Badge, Arm, Parachutist cut to shape instead of bring rectangular which clearly proves the issue badge was rectangular and must therefore have been trimmed to shape locally - which explains the numerous versions that exist.”
https://www.britishbadgeforum.com/fo...1&postcount=40
From that, we can assume that factory trimmed wings were issued after Jan 1945.

Tonomachi 08-09-20 12:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tcrown (Post 521928)
Thanks for the kind words everyone. I'm glad this is of interest to the community.

Great photos, Tonomachi. This reminds me of a post by Jon (Postwarden) some time ago:
“It is worth noting that not until January 1945 did the Ordnance Depot issuing the parachute badge suggest that cloth could be save by supplying the Badge, Arm, Parachutist cut to shape instead of bring rectangular which clearly proves the issue badge was rectangular and must therefore have been trimmed to shape locally - which explains the numerous versions that exist.”
https://www.britishbadgeforum.com/fo...1&postcount=40
From that, we can assume that factory trimmed wings were issued after Jan 1945.

Thanks for the follow up information.

tcrown 16-09-20 01:05 AM

3 Attachment(s)
More on the early way of wearing wings:
A few early shots taken ca spring 1941 with an uncut pair of wings on a NCO's BD helping other para members preparing what appears to be the early type of parachute equipment container.
Attachment 230631 Attachment 230632
Another interesting document below proves that uncut wings could be worn on jump smocks. This was not common practice though particularly late in the war. This particular photo was taken in April 1944 during a major airborne exercise (source IWM).
Attachment 230633

tcrown 16-12-20 02:48 AM

The “cloud” Pattern Canopy Type Wings
 
5 Attachment(s)
Very soon after the release of the official Parachute Wings Badge, several variants appeared on the market due to strong demand from the soldiers themselves.
It was not uncommon for new qualified paratroopers rushing to get private purchase wings for their walking out BD before the official parade when they would receive their ordnance type wings.
Source: https://www.paradata.org.uk/article/...d-ringway-1940
As an example of non-official wings, this particular variant was issued as early as 1941 (source Ken Joyce ‘Into the Maelstrom’ p 51). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any period photo supporting Ken’s information.
Attachment 236232
A trimmed version
Attachment 236233
This one with an half moon shape

Feather detached as well as special rigging lines design can clearly be seen which makes this type very recognisable. Also the canopy is sometimes split in three parts and for that reason has been designated ‘Cloud type’ by collectors.
These wings were made with more refined material and better embroidery quality. They usually have a cotton backing to the rear.
Attachment 236234
This particular wings were discussed here https://www.britishbadgeforum.com/fo...1&postcount=27

I believe the vast majority if not all of these wings were privately purchased and as with the official detached feathers type of wings that was subject to my previous post, this variant continued to be issued until the end of the war.
It is a challenge to find undisputable period photographic evidence of this type of wings being wear.
The best photo I found was one showing a Belgium para taken in July 1942 I believe shortly after their Independent Parachute Company was formed (source IWM)
Attachment 236236
As with the ordnance standard wings that were issued in the early days, the badge could be worn trimmed close to the embroidered design or with a half-moon shape, the latter being immediately recognizable in the photo below (source: Library and Archives Canada)
Attachment 236235
A photo of Gunner J.R. Purser (No. 2 Forward Observation Unit, RA). The parachute cord strands hanging from his Denison smock zipper represent every jump he made up until the photo was taken in Oct 1944.

SemperFi 16-12-20 04:24 AM

Thank you for this excellent, concise guide, Pierre—well done!

Jay

Mike B 16-12-20 09:51 AM

Thanks for adding information on the 'Cloud' pattern canopy ... much appreciated. Regards - Mike

Luc 16-12-20 01:21 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Two more half moon shaped wings.


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