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Womens services cap badges

Article about: Good afternoon gents, I thought I might start a new subject thread for my 1000th post and I couldn't find this subject in particular (sorry if there is one, maybe we might amalgamate if appr

  1. #1

    Default Womens services cap badges

    Good afternoon gents,

    I thought I might start a new subject thread for my 1000th post and I couldn't find this subject in particular (sorry if there is one, maybe we might amalgamate if appropriate) so here goes;

    Like many collections of British cap badges mine began with infantry of the line, cavalry, yeomanry etc etc and I admit I overlooked the ladies in uniform to an extent despite serving alongside many during my career in green.

    However, I have recently gone a long way to redressing the imbalance and have found that there are more than enough womens badges to represent as a sub-section in my collection and wondered if it might be useful to start a general discussion on the different badges and the services they represent over the relatively short evolution (100 years really) to the present day where the girls are mostly integrated with their male colleagues. I am sure many collectors are / have been at the same point in their collecting so please show the badges you have and duplication is not to be avoided, the more the merrier.

    In no particular time order here is one to start, a rececent acquisition and hastily snapped here with a hand held camera (better pics with the next ones).

    Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (1918 - 1920) followed on from The Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (1917 - 1918) and this is a light bronze (as opposed to brass) example in very good condition;

    Regards

    Mark

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    More to follow so let's see what other members have to show.

    PS If anybody can point me in the direction of a decent Kings Crown QARANC badge I should be grateful.
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  2. #2

    Default

    An interesting subject but one I cannot contribute to except for this Womans Land Army badge which I think was worn as botha cap badge or lapel/uniform badge.
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    Regards,

    Jerry

    Whatever its just an opinion.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Jerry, yes it is a subject that I think has to be considered in the round by anyone collecting cap badges, general militaria or just intereseted in the war time history of the nation.

    As I say, it is something I admit to not paying as much attention to as an affirmed militaria enthusist maybe should.

    Of course the WLA was stricly a civilian organisation but inextricably linked to the war effort and the mobilisation of an early "people power".

    Initially raised during WWI (1917 -19) it was disbanded after the war. At that time they didn't have a cap badge but many wore a lapel badge of The Board of Agriculture in their hats which is probably where the idea of a common cap / lapel badge comes from.

    In 1939 the WLA was resurected initially with volunteers but later with conscripts filling the number.

    The badge you show is I believe the pin back type worn on the breast of the green jersey and mine below is the cap badge of exactly the same size and pattern but with lugs / loops for a split pin instead of the brooch pin.

    Thanks for your contribution.

    Regards

    Mark

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    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  4. #4

    Default Womens Auxilliary Army Corps (WAAC)

    This one is the predecessor to the badge at the top of the thread and was in use 1917 -18.

    The WAAC was really the start of women in the military though their roles were very limited compared to today.

    The WAAC did not initially use military ranks. Instead of officers and NCOs there were; controllers, administrators and forewomen much like in the civilian work plcae.

    This badge is also of a bronze metal rather than brass and is also of a relitively high quality compared to later badges;

    Regards

    MarkClick image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Watchdog; 04-17-2017 at 03:11 PM. Reason: typo
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  5. #5

    Default Auxilliary Territorial Service (ATS)

    The ATS existed from 090938 to 010249 when it became part of the WRAC (Womens Royal Army Corps).

    Around 300 ATS served with the BEF in France and were amongst the last to be evacuated.

    A developing role during WWII was in the anti aircraft searchlight batteries like the Wehrmacht Flakhilerinen.

    Our own Princess Elizabeth (HM Queen EIIR) served in the ATS as Lt Elizabeth Windsor and was a driver/mechanic!

    This is the standard other ranks brass version.

    Regards

    Mark

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    Last edited by Watchdog; 04-24-2017 at 08:20 PM. Reason: picture order
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  6. #6

    Default

    Great thread Mark, I will add this if i may?

    The Women’s Voluntary Service or WVS (later the WRVS)

    Originally founded in 1938 as the Women’s Voluntary Services for Air Raid Precautions, Royal Voluntary Service is the largest volunteering organisation in British history.
    WVS was initially formed to help recruit women into the ARP movement assisting civilians during and after air raids by providing emergency rest centres, feeding, first aid, and perhaps most famously assisting with the evacuation and billeting of children.

    By 1943 the organisation had over one million volunteers and was involved in almost every aspect of wartime life from the collection of salvage to the knitting of socks and gloves for merchant seamen. After the war Royal Voluntary Service transformed to become a leading organisation in the field of social care, pioneering the practices that formed the cornerstone of modern social services.

    In 1966 in recognition of the service WVS and its volunteers had given to this country they were granted the honour of adding ‘Royal’ to their title by Her Majesty the Queen. becoming the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service.

    This 1941 issue WVS beret carries the queen's crown version of the badge, suggesting possible service both during and post war.

    Kind Regards
    Ed

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    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...."
    - Major-General John Sedgwick, 9 may 1864.
    Killed by a sniper during the battle of Spotsylvania..

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks Ed, yes I know the WRVS very well from my own early service. Not actually part of the military but so closely associated that sometimes an outside observer would struggle to appreciate the fact. Also, not always appreciated by their "clients" for want of a better word and often the but of soldierly humour. Many a recruit bearing the rigours of training or more experienced soldiers in isolated or spartan postings would have a far more bleak existence without the WRVS library, canteen etc and as you say; they performed a crucial Civil Defence function and were pioneers of modern social services.

    I am sure other members have items in their collections to enrich this thread. So, notwithstanding that this is in the Western Allies section and is framed as concerning British womens service organisations cap badges I wonder if the main theme might benefit from the counterpoise of TR and worldwide organisations. If so maybe a Mod might want to move the thread to a more appropriate sub-forum. No objection from me there including a change to the title. I started this with a view to discussing a much over looked area of military support services and in retrospect I can see no reason to keep it exclusively British or even army. Any thoughts gents?

    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  8. #8

    Default Womens Royal Army Corps WRAC

    The successor to the ATS Formed 1949 and Disbanded 1992.

    For the most part WRAC soldiers were attached in trade employments to the Corps or Supprot Services as itegral unit members and essentially under command of the host unit. Some were also attached to "teeth arms" in administrative roles.

    In the last few years of the Corps existence members were further integrated into other units and the lines became blurred as the girls began to wear the buttons some other regimental embellishments of their host units. In my own corps the girls were totally embedded with only a cap badge and the colour of the No1 and No2 uniforms being different. This caused more than enough friction with the WRAC senior hierachy.

    During the early '80s firearms training was introduced for the girls and there was a period during which those enlisted before a certain date had the choice of becoming weapon trained or not. So, the process was one of evolution really rather than a sudden metamorphosis and at one point WRAC uniform was worn with the buttons badges and other insignia of the host unit. Something of a headache for uniform collectors now as there were no officially documented regulations for this which was decreed by commanding officers.

    Anyway, the cap badges;

    1. Officers Kings Crown 1949 - 53
    2. Soldiers Kings Crown 1949 - 53
    3. Officers Queens Crown 1953 - 92 (?)
    4. Soldiers Queens Crown 1953 - 92 (?)
    5. Soldiers Queens Crown annodised aluminium - Early '70s - 1992.
    6. Beret badge backing.

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    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  9. #9

    Default Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps QARANC

    With a lineage directly from Florence Nightingale in the Crimea (everyone knows about Scutari right?) the "QA's" came to be in 1949 as successors to the QAIMNS - Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service with inclusion into the Army List as a Corps.

    Originally all female (which is why it is in this thread) since the changes brought about by the "Peace Dividend" the corps now includes male personnel (1992 male nurses and some other trades transferred from RAMC to QARANC). Since 1950 the corps has trained nurses. Today the medical personnel seen providing aid in disease and war torn areas of the world are a mixture of QA and RAMC soldiers. A good example is the recent Ebola crisis in Africa during which a British Nurse, Pauline Cafferkey (A QARANC reservist) was infected but recovered from this terrible disease.

    1. QARANC Kings Crown 1949 - 53
    2. QARANC Queens Crown 1953 - '70s (Replaced by annodised aluminium "Staybrite")

    I believe these are both officers pattern as they have traces of gilt remaining.

    3. QARANC OR's 1970's - present

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    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

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