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Old 06-09-20, 09:03 PM
tcrown tcrown is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Canada
Posts: 274
Default Early Para Wings

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.
H6490 Lt Col Jackson General Brooke visit Jan 1941.JPG CH2617 Lt Col Ivor Jackson ca Jan 1941.jpg
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’).
C Troop 11 SAS circa Feb 1941.jpg
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.

H7415 early badge in rectangular form Feb 1941.jpg Rectangular Front.jpg
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’).
AYY99 Parachute Training Feb 24 1941 2.JPG

Lt Col Jackson himself wore trimmed wings when he presented his unit to the King in May 1941.
H9971 May 1941.JPG

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.
Split wings.jpg Wings on stripes.jpg

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.

Last edited by tcrown; 10-09-20 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 07-09-20, 10:11 AM
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rsunday rsunday is offline
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Poland
Posts: 63

Very interesting information and photos.
I am waiting for more!
Always interested in Polish airborne and special forces insignia and related items.
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Old 07-09-20, 10:56 AM
Mike B Mike B is online now
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: North West
Posts: 2,079

Interesting thread - like Rafal, waiting for more - including the early 'cloud canopy' pattern
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Old 07-09-20, 11:54 AM
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manchesters manchesters is offline
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Lancashire
Posts: 6,451

Thanks Pierre,

An easy to understand guide.
I like it

Simon Butterworth

Manchester Regiment Collector
Rank, Prize & Trade Badges
British & Commonwealth Artillery Badges
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Old 07-09-20, 09:18 PM
Tonomachi Tonomachi is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 265

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?

B Bundle Flying Tiger Antiques (3).jpg

B Bundle Flying Tiger Antiques (2).jpg

B Bundle Flying Tiger Antiques (4).jpg

B Bundle Flying Tiger Antiques (1).jpg
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Old 07-09-20, 10:43 PM
tcrown tcrown is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Canada
Posts: 274

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.”
From that, we can assume that factory trimmed wings were issued after Jan 1945.
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