GWilliamson

The "On War Service" and other Home Front Badges

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In 1915 a new general pattern was introduced for all, not just admiralty workers. Early examples were enamelled but soon replaced with an all-brass "economy" version. There were several manufacturers and you can see subtle differences in overall size, the exact shape of the crown, the design of the cannon on the shield etc. All were individually serial numbered and carried a letter code on the reverse of the crown ( the meaning of which still isn't known for sure).

 

The example on the left here is by Gaunt of London and the right by Collins of London.

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Ultimately hundreds of firms introduced their own unofficial versions, including Railways. This example is for the L.M.S. (London Midland and Scottish), but identical badges with G.W.R. (Great Western Railways), S.R. (Southern Railways) and L.N.E.R. (London and North Eastern Railway) can be encountered, possibly others too though these were the "Big Four".

 

I'm keen to do a study of these badges and will be picking up more which I'll add to the thread as they come in.

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Gordon,  I  love  these  badges.  Interesting  that it  was  felt  the  need  to  produce  them.

 

I  remember  reading  George  Ashursts  memoirs of  his  WW1  service, "My Bit"  with  the  Lancashire  Fusiliers. His battalion were  with  29th  Div  who  had  seen  service in  Gallipoli  and  that  fateful  day  on  the  1st  July  1916 in  front of  Beaumont  Hamel. He  describes  walking  along  the  canal  towpath in  his hometown  whilst  on leave  out of uniform and being  given  a  white  feather by  a woman. Seems  there certainly  was  a  need  for those  badges. 

 

Jim

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Nice badges and thanks for the interesting thread, hope it's okay to add my two badges.

 

Tom

 

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Hi Tom,

 

Nice examples. I have a few more due to arrive next week and will post them when they do,

 

I had an uncle, now long since deceased, who worked in the Robb Caledon shipyard in Dundee. When WW2 broke out he tried to enlist but was refused as his was considered essential war work. He was enraged that he couldn't go and fight along with his mates, got into a scuffle at the recruitment office and got himself arrested. I suspect also at the back of his mind, with WW1 still being fresh in many peoples memories, was the way that many people doing their bit on the home front in the Great War were treated.

 

There were many brave women who served as nurses during WW1 but its interesting that most of the abuse thrown at men in civvies, most of whom probably had genuine good reason for not being in uniform, was from these female harpies who would never themselves be expect to put their own lives at risk.

 

I think these badges are fascinating because they also reflect so much of Social History as well as military.  

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A few more picked up today.

 

Codes M, Q , T, X and Z

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Todays haul.

 

First - The Badge for those who volunteered to give up their normal jobs to work in the munitions industry. This badge was worn by applicants until they actually transferred to Munitions work after which they wore the 1915 pattern badge.

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Next, the first pattern 1915 badge, in enamel used prior to the introduction of the brass "economy" pattern.

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And a couple more Railway issues

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New arrivals.  

 

A 1915 issue in minty condition by Mappin and Webb, "R" code., and a Volunteer War Worker badge

 

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Last of the "Big Four" Railway companies, GWR - Great Western Railways

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This is  a  great  thread  Gordon. i  didn`t  realise  there  were  so  many  variations.

 

Keep  `em  coming!!!! :thumbup:

 

Jim

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Interesting thread Gordon and i also agree that these are great little pieces of history.

 

Do you know if they were produced in WWII also,or something similar ?

 

The reason i ask is that i have one of the Railway Company badges for LMS,i think.This badge belonged to my grandmother who worked at Curzon Street Station in Birmingham,during and after WWII.

 

It is the same design as those shown above but it is in a white metal,or perhaps plated brass ? It has a pin back and is serial numbered.

 

Alas,i do not have access to it right now.

 

 

Regards,Martin.

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Hi Martin,

 

Yes indeed, similar badges were given out during WW2, though I think the days of the ferocious female harridans going around calling men in civvies cowards and handing out white feathers was pretty much over by then.  I think in WW2 it was more the workers themselves who wanted to show they were doing their bit, rather than out of fear of being branded cowards in the street.

 

There is a book on the WW2 versions, but sadly no equivalent to the more interesting and more varied WW1 types.

 

 

 

Interesting thread Gordon and i also agree that these are great little pieces of history.

 

Do you know if they were produced in WWII also,or something similar ?

 

The reason i ask is that i have one of the Railway Company badges for LMS,i think.This badge belonged to my grandmother who worked at Curzon Street Station in Birmingham,during and after WWII.

 

It is the same design as those shown above but it is in a white metal,or perhaps plated brass ? It has a pin back and is serial numbered.

 

Alas,i do not have access to it right now.

 

 

Regards,Martin.

 

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Hi Martin,

 

 

There is a book on the WW2 versions, but sadly no equivalent to the more interesting and more varied WW1 types.

Thanks for the information Gordon and thanks for showing this book.

 

This one i have to get as i have a couple of "unknown" badges at home that might fit into this category,one is from a bicycle factory in Birmingham ?

 

I do have an example of the silver "ARP" badge also.

 

Sadly,there are no copies of this Jon Mills book available from Amazon or Abebooks right now.

 

Thanks again,

 

Martin.

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Well,i received the book this morning,super fast service from the 1940's Society,and i managed to pick up this piece today for a couple of quid.

 

Nice little badge for the W.V.S (Women's Voluntary Services).

 

The maker mark on the reverse reads,

 

Butler

45 Vittoria Street

B'ham

 

This street is in the Birmingham Jewelery quarter.

 

I hope i don't get hooked on this stuff now Gordon. :whistling:

 

Regards,Martin.

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Hi Martin,

 

Well done !

 

Yeah the service from the 1940 Society is very fast. I think, although the range of badges for 1939-45 is fairly large, it is nowhere near the size of the 1914-18 contingent. My impression is that during 1939-45 people wore these badges more out of pride in showing they were doing their bit, than out of fear of being branded a coward for being in civvies.

 

It seems to me that almost every manufacturer of just about any kind on the home front had their own badges produced in WW1. The range seems absolutely vast.

 

The good thing about them is that despite being fascinating reminders of both the social and military history of the time, they are still relatively very cheap. I think the most I have paid so far is around £25 for the enamelled 1915 War Service badge and the others were all considerably less than this. So don't worry if you do get hooked, it won't empty your bank account :-)

 

There are of course some rare ones, but the vast majority, even many of the scarcer ones, are well under £100 and most under £50. What TR stuff can you buy at these prices that you could class as relatively rare and very interesting ?

 

I'm definitely hooked !

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Hi Martin,

 

 What TR stuff can you buy at these prices that you could class as relatively rare and very interesting ?

 

I'm definitely hooked !

I certainly agree here Gordon.

 

Besides,i think i have enough Hilfskreuzer awards. :smile:

 

I also managed to pick up a couple of nice Cavalry cap badges at very reasonable prices.

 

Regards,Martin.

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On a similar vein but not quite the same, as this one was worn on uniform,- the Imperial Service Badge.

 

Soldiers of the Territorial Force were not obliged to serve overseas but were intended to take over posts of regular soldiers in the UK to allow the regulars to go overseas.

Manpower shortages however meant there were never enough regulars, and so those Territorials who volunteered to go and fight overseas instead of staying safe in the UK, were entitled to wear this badge over their tunic pocket.

 

Photo is of my Grandfather, from 4th Bn. Black Watch, a Territorial unit, wearing his.

 

 

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WW2 this time, and first the TA lapel badge. As the Territorial Army were "part-time" soldiers this was introduced in 1938 to allow TA volunteers to be identified when in civvies. It was short lived as the TA was absorbed into the Regular Army when war broke out in 1939.

 

 

The second is a similar badge for the Merchant Navy. Many MN personnel wore civvies both at sea and on shore so this badge allowed them to be identified as genuine sailors - obviously dodgy looking characters wandering around dockyard areas during wartime would attract the attention of police and security personnel so this badge showed them to be all "genuine and above board".

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