~ Combined Operations Insignia - Design & Development ~
designer of the Combined Ops badge,
Lt D A Grant, could not have
known his design would spread around the world or that it would endure to the present day.
Also of possible interest are;
Insignia in Use &
Lt D A Grant
Mountbatten's 'Design' Challenge
13 Jan 42, Lord Louis
Mountbatten, Chief of the Combined Operations Command,
requested designs ideas for a badge to represent the
Command. It was an open competition and from
the many designs received, one of several submitted by
Lt D A Grant, RNVR, of HMS Tormentor,
a landing craft
training base in the south of England, was of
In his submission,
Lt Grant provided a number of symbols that might be
used to represent each of the three services.
The symbols where: Navy - fouled anchor, naval crown, ship or landing craft;
Military - crossed sabres, daggers and guns, tanks or Tommy guns; Air Force -
Eagle, Aircraft silhouette or propellers.
Design Developments in Graphics
The original design for the badge submitted by Lt
D A Grant,
RNVR. The bird had the appearance of a seagull
was later changed to an eagle.
The Tommy Gun also faced in the opposite direction
to that used on the final approved design
The gold bullion
version as worn within the Royal Navy. Wartime
economy versions exist with the design worked in
yellow threads on navy blue cloth.
3 The Embroidered
red on navy blue 'tombstone' version.
4 The circular red
on navy blue badge.
5 The light blue on
white embroidered 'tombstone' version worn in the
6 The printed
ordnance issue red on navy
version, referred to in the text as '291A'.
blue on white printed
version on a square
background, referred to in the text as '292B'.
8 The red on navy blue printed circular version referred to
in the text as 291A.
19 Feb 42 designs
A letter was
sent to Mr Bradley of the Ministry of Works and
Buildings, Lambeth Bridge House, Albert Embankment,
London, SE1, who at this stage had
been given the task of making the alterations to the original design. Extract
from this letter:
Dear Mr. Bradley,
Lord Louis Mountbatten
is very pleased with your design for the Combined
Operations Badge, marked 'B'. Would you please have
two cop1es of this done, as early as practicable, in red and blue. I
will then have them photographed.
22 Apr 42
Proposals were put forward for
24 Apr 42
badges were embroidered. It was
also suggested at this time that the only way the manufacturers would be able to
produce the required number
of badges within a reasonable time
was by having the badges printed, which were
considered to be indistinguishable from the
embroidered version at a distance of about ten feet.
badge, as described by Lord Mountbatten, consisted of a "Tommy"
gun, an eagle and a stockless anchor,
representing the Army, the Royal Air Force and the
12 Jun 42
Badges were in the process of
16 Jun 42
Letter from Captain J
RN with a request for alterations to the
design of the badge: 1) that
the bird should resemble an eagle and not a seagull and 2) the
Tommy gun should face the opposite way, if not too
23 Jun 42
An extract, reproduced below, from
a letter in answer to these
suggestions. The letter was addressed to Captain
J. N. Knox, R.N., Combined Operations Liaison
Officer, C/O British Joint Staff Mission, Washington,
As regards the Combined Operations Badge, I always
intended that the bird should be an eagle and I think it is shocking bad
work on the part of the artist that has made it look
like a seagull, I will arrange, if it
is not too late, to get the bird to look more like an
eagle and send you a copy. I also agree to changing around
the Tommy gun if it is not too late.
Mountbatten had approved the original design and although the badges were
being printed, he agreed to the alterations. [Fig.1 is
drawn from a tracing made from a black & white photograph
of the original design held in these records at the PRO.]
Jun 42 Combined Operations
Headquarters received a letter of this date
from the War Office, Hobart House,
Grosvenor Place, London, SWI requesting two specimens
of the Combined Operations Badge. It vas also pointed
out that under authority of Army Council Instruction (A.C.I.) No 2587 of 1941
they were required to obtain two badges from each
4 Jul 42
Authority has now been granted for the
issue of the Combined Operations Badge.
10 Jul 42
New design for the Combined
Operations Badge received.
11 Jul 42
Captain Knox was sent three copies of
the new design, with a letter from Lord Louis Mountbatten, in which he
mentioned: Would you please make sure that the
Americans concerned are given this new design which I hope will please them.
27 Jul 42
The first order of Combined
Operations Badges for the Royal Navy, including stocks of each of the three pattern numbers given to the badge: 291A
(produced in pairs)
red on blue,
292A (single badge) red on blue, 292B (single
badge) blue on white, 291A similar
to number 292A but produced in pairs, for
wear by those naval personnel attached to Combined
Operations organisations who wear
pairs. 292A for
wear on the blue jumper 1.5 inches above the right
cuff, 100,000 items. 292B
for wear on the white uniform, 50,000 items.
Men entitled to wear these badges were to be issued with two pair 291A, two
badges 292A or two badges 292B.
Replacements available 2 pence
a pair obtainable from HMS Quebec. Purchase of
these badges other than from official sources is
24 Aug 42
A letter to Dwight D
Eisenhower, Commander-in-Chief United States Army, European
Theatre of Operations, 20 Grosvenor Square,
I enclose a specimen of the Combined Operations Badge
which it is proposed should be worn by all British, U.S. and Allied Other Ranks connected
with Combined Operations.
Would you like me to send you a supply of badges similar to this
specimen so that they can be worn by the Ranger Battalions on the left shoulder? If so, would you be good enough to let me
know how many you require. You may remember General
Marshall gave approval for the Rangers and any
personnel specially trained in Beach Party or
assault signal work at "Dundonald"
to wear this badge.
2 Sep 42
applied for supplies of Combined Operations Badges.
19 Sep 42
In a letter from America it was reported that United States Army
Officers are now wearing their own version of
the Combined Operations Badge, which is very similar to ours.
These were being worn by members of the Engineer Amphibian Corps.
[Mountbatten was concerned about the word 'similar'
again pointing out that it was intended that the same
badge be worn by all connected with Combined Operations.]
These badges were produced with the American Eagle
replacing the original, embroidered in yellow on light blue backing. It was also
reported about this time that the
US Navy intended having their own version
of the Combined Operations Badge,
asking Mountbatten not to press
them into having the
same colour as those
introduced by the American Army.
The United State Navy Amphibious Forces badge was the same
pattern, this time embroidered on a red backing.
It was reported that some members of the Royal Navy were arriving at the
Combined Training Centre wearing what were considered unofficial badges,
embroidered in gold or yellow. In fact it was intended that naval personnel were
required to satisfactorily complete one months Combined Operations Training
before being issued with the badge.
Some of these badges were mentioned in a
catalogue belonging to J & J Edwards Ltd, 99/100 High Street, Lowestoft.
Gold wire Combined Operations Badge 11/6d,
gold spun silk 2/6d and red silk 1/8d. Gold spun silk and red silk can be
supplied by return post. Owing to the large number of badges being ordered
in gold no more orders can be taken until the following month.
8 Feb 43
Extract. from a letter.
that the CCO recently gave permission to the ATS employed at Dundonald to
wear the Combined Operations badge when he was approached by the senior ATS
officer present. The ATS at Castle Toward hearing this have also put up the badge. The ATS personnel serving with Special Service Brigade are also wearing this badge.