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Old 10-04-18, 02:06 PM
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Postwarden Postwarden is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: The Garden of England
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Default Merchant Navy Breast Badge

The appearance for identification on this Forum of the attached badge prompted me to post the answer below in this section to try and nail the myth that it has a Civil Defence connection. As you can see the badge has no connection with CD apart from the fact that it was worn on CD battledress and has an ARP code number.

The popularity of blue CD battledress as an MN working uniform probably explains the arm title shown as well.

This story was originally published in the September 2009 issue of The Formation Sign Journal of the Military Heraldry Society.


In March 1944 the Ministry of War Transport (MOWT), responsible for planning merchant navy (MN) aspects of the forthcoming invasion operations, approached the Ministry of Home Security with a request. They explained that merchant seamen - who would be on one working engagement until the end of the operations - might need to replace kit lost in action before their final expenses were paid. The MOWT felt they could be re-kitted with clothes provided by the government such as CD battledress, a suggestion to which the Home Security ministry agreed – subject to the uniform being differentiated from CD uniform by a badge.

The design of the circular badge suggested for the MN was based on the lapel badge issued to merchant seamen since January 1940. The Post Office Stores Department, which had been arranging the manufacture of ARP and CD badges since before the war, undertook to supply 10,000 of them, 5,000 being sewn immediately to the left jacket pocket of CD Rescue pattern BD, which was more durable than the pattern issued to wardens. The badge, printed in white on navy blue was given the stores code ARP 186 as ‘Badge, Breast, Merchant Navy’.

The original proposal that the BD should be returned at the end of operations when seamen had been paid for any losses was abandoned when it was pointed out that they could in any case buy blue BD which was becoming popular as a MN working dress.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg MN Breast badge JM.jpg (92.3 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg MN Cloth title CY.jpg (27.4 KB, 13 views)
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Old 11-04-18, 02:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Leicestershire
Posts: 41

Usual brilliant explanation, Jon.

From your detail, you can see how, due to the badge's source, some might think it has an ARP connection.

I bought mine about 15 years ago from Beltring. The seller, who you probably know, had a huge stash of WW2 CD badges from a clearing-out of the PO Stores at Mount Pleasant and, putting 2+2 together, sold them as ARP: I think he said 'MN seamen whose ships had been sunk were conscripted into the local city CD of the UK port where they landed'!

I did figure something wasn't quite right and I'm sure I've seen a wartime photo/picture somewhere of two MN sailors on shore leave with kit bags, wearing BD with these badges.

I suppose the dark blue BD and the similiarity of the crowned 'MN' badge to that of the 'CD' breast badge was too much for the rumour mill/badge sellers to resist...
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