Design Approved 8 March The following is a brief introduction to dating U. They are usually small enameled coat of arms, which often depict symbols of the history of the unit they represent and the sometimes have the motto of the unit.
Distinctive insignia are used to indicate component units, such as regiments or battalions. Although the traditions of U. Army units may go back to the early history of this nation this class of insignia and the idea of a unit heraldic crest is relatively modern. Both of these nations have well-established regimental traditions.
It is perhaps natural that American soldiers compared their unit traditions with those of the allies. During the war the unofficial use of smaller unit badges began with squadron pins in the Air Service. In August the U. Army began officially recognizing regimental coat of arms, which were originally displayed on the colors and not used as insignia.
This was later expanded to include a badge to be worn on the white mess jacket. The final step in the development of distinctive insignia was to approve them to be worn on the service uniform of all soldiers as an insignia. The instigator of regiment coats of arms appears to be Colonel later Brigadier General Robert Edward Evan Wyllie , Chief of the Equipment Branch of the General Staff and a person with an interest in heraldry.
Circular of approved wearing the designs and Colonel Wyllie, wrote an article, which appeared in the March issue of the Infantry Journal that was titled "Regimental Badges and Coats of Arms. Regimental Insignia and Trimmings-a. Subject to the approval of the War Department and as a means of promoting esprit de corps, each regiment or similar organization is authorized to adopt and wear, as a part of the uniform, distinctive insignia or trimmings.
Distinctive insignia should bear the regimental badge or coat of arms or similar device having historical significance connected with the regiment, such as the ornament of the regiment when originally organized or that worn is some prior war. If trimmings are adopted, the color should have some historical significance connected with the regiment.
Colored trimmings will not be worn with the cotton service or white uniforms. Where insignia or trimmings other than those indicated above are desired, the reason for variation must be made plain when the approval of the War Department is requested. If a distinctive insignia of trimming is adopted, it must be worn by the entire personnel of the regiment and the expense of adopting and wearing it must be borne by the personnel, as personnel, as public funds are not available for this purpose.
Not All Distinctive Insignia are Crests. The 4th Infantry Regiment wore this cloth trim on the shoulder loop. On March 18, the 51st Artillery Regiment was the first unit to receive approval for wearing a submitted design.
During the next two decades they were approved for most regular and national guard units. DIs were worn on the front of the campaign hat, on the standing collar of enlisted men's coats behind the collar disks, and on the shoulder loops of officer's coats and on the lapels of enlisted men's coats. DIs were worn on the left side of the overseas cap garrison cap when that was reintroduced, and moved from the standing collar to the lapels of enlisted men's coats when the lapel coat was introduced in The pin-backed ones would have been useful on officer's shoulder loops while the screw backed ones would have worked well on the Montana peak campaign hats in use prior to the general adoption of the garrison cap.
It does seem to me that the oldest ones are mostly screw back construction and that pin-backed ones became more common over time. On December 29, it was announced that the manufacture of distinctive insignia was to be discontinued and that future requests would only be considered under very special circumstances.
It did not discontinue wearing of those DIs that had been produced. Many units tried to circumvent the rules and had ones ones manufactured in plastic or in silver. Prohibitions against wearing DIs in combat zones also existed. Many DIs are marked with the name of the manufacturer; for example, A. Dondero of Washington, D. The unit was formed in and inactivated November in Germany.
This is shown as an example of a good World War Two era pin-backed, open catch DI typical of this manufacturer. Some DIs were manufactured in Germany during the occupation period and have distinctive features. The Ballou clutch was introduced in and in the postwar era supplanted the older post and screw type with a few exceptions.
Pin-back DIs were still manufactured during the postwar period. Army Insignia were manufacturer locally and some unusual variations were produced. Our one example although postwar still uses a post and screw and the other has a unique safely pin like attachment. These first appeared on all types of insignia during the s. I am showing the distinctive insignia of the Army Medical Department.
The alpha-numeric manufacturer's hallmark on this example would date it to after the mids. Grosvenor, Gilbert et al. Army Heraldic Crests, Columbia, S. University of South Carolina Press, War Department, Army Regulations No. Government Printing Office, I would also like to thank Robert Capistrano and Jay Graybeal for their assistance with this page.