Military Patches: History within the Stitches

Military patches, also known as shoulder sleeve insignias, are identification tools for military personnel. A soldier’s affiliations can be easily recognized with his patches. Whether they are in the Army, Navy, Air Force or the Marines, they have patches uniquely made for them.

The patches are removable articles of clothing. They are attached usually on the shoulder area of a military uniform. They can also be put on the headgears and backpacks of a soldier. These patches had a variety of designs loaded with different meanings. They have become items worth collecting.

Military PatchesMilitary patches are only a recent addition to the current military uniform trend. Despite that, it is a valuable item of clothing rich in history. Its existence may only be traced to have begun during the bloody world wars but its concept had always existed long before even that.

As early as the Ancient Roman times, there had already been a need for tools to identify different . They used shields painted with their insignias to show their affiliation. These are the coat of arms.The coat of arms is also used during medieval times. Lords and knights fought battles with their insignia proudly branded on their shields. Their use even went beyond military. Families in the higher social class adapted the coat of arms concept into their own banners and flags which they pass down from generation to generation. Eventually, the use of coat of arms spread to the aristocrats, the clergy, trading companies, and even schools. The most prevalent and consistent users of it though would always be in the military.

In modern warfare, carrying shields into the battlefield is a dangerous and an almost entirely obsolete course of action. Carrying flags and banners into the fight are almost unheard of. The traditional forms of the coat of arms do not fit with the wars fought with bombs and bullets. Instead, it took a different form. The modern coat of arms is the patches.

The earliest use of military patches is during the First World War. Major General Charles J. Bailey provided a unique shoulder patch for the 81st Division after seeing it done with other Allied troops. The division’s mascot, a wildcat, was used as a symbol.Major General Bailey got in trouble for authorizing the creation and use of the wildcat patches. He was ordered to stop the soldiers from wearing them. However, Bailey saw how the wildcat patches fostered camaraderie among the 81st division. He defied the orders and told the soldiers to keep wearing their distinctive military patches.

To ensure the wildcat patch would be sanctioned, Major General Bailey personally defended its use to General John Pershing. He explained how the patches create esprit de corps and boost the morale of the soldiers. The general relents on the condition for Bailey and his men to live up to their symbol.From then on, all divisions of the military were sanctioned to create their own unique patches. When the Second World War broke out, all corps, brigades, divisions, and units had their distinctive patches. They came in variety of bright colors and symbolic images for insignias. All of them represent a unit’s formation, motto, or accomplishments.

During the Vietnam War, the colors of the military patches were subdued to avoid detection. The Gulf War also affected the design of the patches. The colors were restricted into what can only blend with the camouflage uniforms.Nowadays, brightly colored military uniforms are still in use but only in military dress uniforms. The patches used in the field have muted colors.

Regardless of a military patch’s color and design, a story is woven within them. They can be the achievements of a brigade or the promise of a division. No matter what, they would always mean something.

  1. Very useful article it is…!!
    Its really helpful ….. to know the history behind the variety of designs of Military patches….Get more detail information about patch designs by visiting site patches4less. Thanks for such good sharing…!!

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