British cap badges have always been a personal favourite of mine. I began collecting them at the age of 6, simply because they were available to buy and cheap! Nowadays, prices have risen, but they are still relatively cheap items to pick up around and about. Today, however, we will browse through some of the the rarer WW1 & WW2 badges for sale. The main reason for rarity I have found in badges is simple. Many regiments didn’t exist for long, so badge designs changed frequently and there were simply not that many made of some.
WW1 British Army Cyclist Corps Officer’s Bronze Cap Badge
This WW1 British army cap badge is for the Army Cyclist Corps, a regiment simply designed to be able to move… fast! There were a few cyclist corps raised between 1888 and 1920 and their main role was being mobile. Main roles would include reconnaissance, passing messages along and as penetrative combat troops. One of the main benefit of the bicycles was that unlike horses, they didn’t need feeding! Due to the specialist nature of the regiment, there was never a large number of soldiers who joined the Army Cyclist Corps. By default, this makes this WW1 cap badge quite a rare item.
Available from The Militaria Shop in the UK for £40.
5th Royal Irish Lancers Shako Plate
This next badge is a slightly different type. It would have been mounted onto a shako plate in the early 20th century. The 5th Royal Irish Rifles are shown by the harp in the centre of the badge, it’s then surrounded by the battle honours the regiment received. This was common practice on badges and as time went on, some regiments had a long list of honours on their cap badges. The battle honours on this badge include the Defence of Ladysmith & South Africa from 1899-1902. Battle honours on badges are another factor in rarity as they can often help with dating a badge.
This particular example is around 4.5 inches tall by 8 inches wide and still retains its original screw mounts on the back.
This badge is for sale from The Collector’s Guild for $198.
Plymouth Division KC Royal Marines Band Helmet Plate
Another helmet badge here, but this time for the Royal Marines Band, Plymouth Division. The Royal Marines badge hasn’t changed much over the years, but as such an iconic British army cap badge, variation is what we all look for. This particular example is differentiated by the extra section added over the crown. The badge is in overall good condition and the rear mounting lugs are still intact.
Available for sale by Cultman Collectables in the UK for £50.00.
Royal Naval Motor Boat Reserve Cap Badge
Another rare badge here, this R.N.M.B.R Royal Naval Motorboat Reserve Cap Badge is in good overall condition, especially given it likely dates to around 1916. The rear slider is a little bent, indicating it has been on a cap a few times.
Available today for sale from Relic Militaria in the UK for £65.
Hallmarked Silver Sudan Defence Force Officer’s Cap Badge
Formed in 1925, the Sudan Defence Force was put together by the British Army to protect the Sudanese border whilst it was under British control. The regiment also served in WW2 in the East Africa campaign and in some parts of the western desert. Being silver, this badge is an officer’s badge. Most officers in the SDF were British army officers on secondment for a few years, but the troops themselves were local natives.
The badge itself is hallmarked well, on the rear, under the slider. This dates the badge to 1930 and it was produced in Birmingham. Originally it will have been produced with a central screw fitting; however, at some point this has been removed and a slider was added. The slider is clearly contemporary and not a modern fix.
This rare silver badge is available today from JC Militaria in the UK for £195.
WW1 British Officer’s East Lancashire Regiment Cap & Collar Badges
Here we have a nice group of matching badges found during a house clearance. The set of British cap badges is comprised of a brass East Lancashire Regiment cap badge and a pair of collar badges. Each of the badges is maker marked ‘J.R. Gaunt, London’ on the rear side. The seller surmises that it’s likely the group hadn’t been touched since the day they were put away until they were rediscovered recently, so they’re lovely, personal pieces.
Available from World Military Collectables £45.
WW2 Air Transport Auxiliary Officer’s Gilt Cap Badge
Up next we have a WW2 British Air Transport Auxiliary badge. Although not strictly speaking a British army cap badge, still of great interest! The ATA was a civilian set up that was started during WW2 to provide support to the RAF and British Army with pilots. Most of them were women, and as a side note, it was the first time in history that women’s pay was matched to that of their male counterparts! This happened in 1943. Overall, the ATA had an important role to play. This was normally transporting planes from A to B, be that for repairs, new planes on their way to the front line, moving officers around and many more tasks. The cap badge is in overall good condition and a nice original example of a rare-to-find badge.
Available from Cultman Collectables for £195.
Rare Airship R100 Officer’s Cap Badge
Another very interesting and rare-to-find badge here. This hand-embroidered cap badge was made for an officer aboard the famous R-100 airship. The R-100 airship took its first flight in December 1929 and was handed over to the Air Ministry for military uses. She then flew over to Canada and the above photo was taken. Sadly, however, the R-100’s sister ship, the R-101, crashed in Beauvais, France in October 1930. This meant the grounding of the R-100 and consequently, all airship production was halted. Sadly the R-100 was sold off for scrap in November 1931.
All of the above make this badge a very rare item to find. Given the ship was only in use for around year, there will not have been many officers. The cap badge is on fine material with amazing embroidery and the King’s Crown above.
This fantastic cap badge is available today from Regimentals for £750.
18th Royal Hussars Cap Badge
This British cap badge is for a soldier in the 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own Regiment). In overall good condition, this badge likely dates back to the mid 1920s – 1940s based on the design and the King’s Crown and it’s made of white metal, with a brass slider on the rear.
Available today from Battleflag Militaria for £15.
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