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Old 22-10-18, 02:01 PM
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Default WW1 Battalion patches- silk & felt.

I notice from the IWM collections, that battalion patches of the London Regiment often seem to be of two types- either silk or felt. Attached is an illustration of what I mean. The "silk" example is on the left and the felt one is shown on the right, sewn under the embroidered shoulder title (I am sorry, I cannot post actual images as they are not mine). Is there any reason for this difference or is it just down to what was available at the time? I feel there must be a reason as quite a few battalions have sent samples of both.

LRB patches.jpg

What I am wondering is if it is possible that the silk versions were used on 'canvas' covers for steel helmets. The IWM evidence is not explicit on this point, which is why I ask. It is interesting to note that most of these examples of silk patches have been sent in to the IWM from battalions in the 56th Division where such patches were definitely worn, but not from the 47th or 58th Divisions where they do not seem to have been worn.

Here is an interesting photograph of a battalion patch worn on a 'canvas' cover. I think this must be quite a rare example:
Orderly room staff of the 1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, keep the unit's paperwork up to date in a trench near Guemappe, 29th April 1917

Many thanks,

Chris

With thanks to forum members Orasot & Jelly Terror for information on which I base this query.

Last edited by Drew; 22-10-18 at 02:07 PM. Reason: Size of font
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Old 23-10-18, 03:12 PM
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Drew

I have actually examined the items in the IWM collection and my conclusion is that these are not silk at all but are in fact glazed cotton which has an appearance similar to silk.
Also the term felt that is applied very widely is seldom correct, Waring uses it in his I/D list but the items are almost entirely a woven cloth - mostly melton cloth which is woolen and which has the surface prepared and smoothed to conceal the weave, as used for full dress jackets etc. The fact that many regiments have a lot of their simple geometric marks in the regiment's uniform facing colour would make it likely that in many cases the regimental tailors provided cloth that would have been used in pre-war full dress. Felt is made by matting fibres to form cloth and has no weave. Apart from these and manufactured embroidered marks there are plenty of other cloths and woven tapes used including green billiard table baize used by the 24th RF for their grenade shape flashes!

Mike
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Old 24-10-18, 02:04 PM
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Hello Mike,

That is very interesting. Thank you very much for sharing such fascinating detail. It is very helpful indeed. To think that men may have worn a small piece of the old pre-war full dress uniform as insignia really is absorbing. You have given me a lot to think about.

May I ask what your view is on the glazed cotton patches- do you think it possible that they were worn on the helmet covers? If I remember correctly, at least one of them is referred to as a helmet patch, albeit in that case it is for the 60th Division.

Many thanks again,

Chris
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Old 25-10-18, 01:33 PM
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Chris

I have checked the notes I have and of the battalions of the London Regiment in 56th Div the only one that mentions use of the cotton patch as a helmet badge is 1/9th (QVR). It is not unreasonable to think that these patches would have been used on helmets when covers were worn but I am afraid that I can't provide any firm evidence and that is after having studied the IWM's uniform questionnaires and the correspondence that accompanied some of the patches when they were sent to the museum.

Mike
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Old 25-10-18, 03:02 PM
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Many thanks, Mike. It is very good of you to go to the trouble of checking your notes.

I looked at the 1917 and 1919 surveys, and the attached illustrations are my impression of helmet patches worn. I also looked at a handful of photos; the 2/9th image was based on information provided by 'Jelly Terror' from a portrait at Davies Street.
Next to these images of helmet patches I also inserted the 'glazed cotton' patches that I wondered about. I did this just to get an idea, but I accept that it does not stand as firm evidence yet. Apologies, perhaps I should have started the thread with this information, but I originally thought I would just enquire about the patches themselves.
I have also added any info I could find about insignia painted on helmets in the 58th Division. It is a work in progress so I have not added the sources or dates yet. I thought that if I could confirm that these 'glazed cotton' patches were indeed worn on helmets, it would help to make this picture a lot more solid. Many thanks again for your thoughts and help with this.

Chris

56th Division
Attachment 195918

58th Division
58th Div II.jpg

Last edited by Drew; 14-11-18 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 10-11-18, 01:59 PM
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56th Div 4.jpg

I forgot to include the 1/9th Battalion helmet patch.

Sources:

1st Lond.- The above IWM photograph 29th April 1917. Worn on left side(?) The Officer appears to be wearing the RF cap badge (see below for Middlesex Rgt).

1/7th Middx.- 1919 Survey
“In the winter of 1915-16 the following was painted on the left side of the helmet [yellow and red rectangle bisected by a white line], the officers wearing in addition the cap badge on the front of the helmet.
In the autumn of 1916 a canvas cover was adopted, with a diamond patch of yellow cloth on each side, the same for all ranks. The wearing of canvas covers was discontinued in the autumn of 1917 but resumed early in 1918.”

1/8th Middx.- 1919 Survey
“When first issued in May 1916 [red and yellow rectangle diagonally bisected] on each side of helmet, afterwards later in 1916 the Brigade (167 Infy) sign, an inverted triangle in yellow… This is not correct as it was a Bn not Bde sign...
...On joining the 167 Bde (56th Division) in March 1916 a brown canvas cover was worn on the steel helmet which bore a sign on either side made of yellow cloth being the Bde colour. In the Autumn of 1917 these covers and badges were discontinued but resumed again in February 1918 and retained until after the Armistice. After the Armistice canvas covers were discontinued; helmets were painted a “service green” colour, in the front was a representation of the Divisional sign (the City of London Dagger) and on either side [triangle] all in yellow. Whilst canvas covers were worn, Officers wore covers made of Khaki cloth with the same signs as the men and in addition the Regimental Badge sewn on the front cover.”

1/4th Lond.- 1919 Survey
“Helmets covered with a “sandbag” canvas early in 1917.
1st Battalion Red circle about 2” diameter, each side.”
… early in 1918 … the cover was discarded”

1/12th Lond.- 1919 Survey
“Khaki drill covers from April 1916 to Sept 1917 with square red patch thus [example] on each side of helmet- All ranks alike.”

“1/9th County of London
Green diamond on steel helmet. First used Aug 1916.
Presented by O.C.
13/8/17”

1.5th Cheshire Regt. History book / 1919 Survey
“Badge on steel helmet”
“Only adopted towards the end”.
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Old 10-11-18, 02:18 PM
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I have no evidence of helmet patches for the 1/3rd Bn., 1/13th Bn., 1/2nd Bn., 1/5th Bn., or 1/16th Bn. There are no other 2" diameter patches held at the IWM which are described as for the helmet cover.
However, I think there is quite good evidence over all three brigades of the 56th Division to suggest that they might have been worn by all the battalions. One very small indication I can see is that the patches for helmet covers are described as "2 inch diameter". There are other 2 inch 'silk' patches held at the IWM from the 1917 Survey, they are just not described as for the helmet cover. I have included these in my illustrations above.
Though it does not say that they are helmet patches, they often come alongside smaller patches of the same type, which are described as worn on the sleeve (often under a shoulder title). This seems to imply, for me, that the larger patch might have some other use.
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Old 24-11-18, 01:38 AM
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Further evidence for a more widespread use of the helmet patch.

Troops of the 1/5th Battalion (London Rifle Brigade), London Regiment, in a reserve trench in Chimpanzee Valley between Hardecourt and Guillemont. 6 September 1916.

1-5th Bn LRB Resreve Trench.jpg

Also attached is a famous photograph of the 1/14th Bn. London Scottish wearing the well known blue tourie.

A Company, 1/14th Battalion London Regiment (London Scottish) marching to the trenches on Doullens-Amiens road at Pas-en-Artois, 26th June 1916.

A Coy Lond Scottish.jpg
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Old 24-11-18, 01:50 AM
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56th Div 5.jpg
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Old 13-12-19, 08:33 AM
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Chris Baker has added an interesting image to his LLT website from the War Diaries. It confirms that badges were worn on the helmet in the 56th Division.
56th (1st London) Division

Last edited by Drew; 13-12-19 at 01:15 PM. Reason: Grammar
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