So What’s In A Badge?
In 1917 all ranks of the 1/1st Battalion, The Cambridgeshire Regiment adopted their own ‘Battle Patch’, a means of unit identification in the field. Whilst not a new concept, cloth insignia of this form had been worn by a few units in 1915, but in the second half of the Great War this became a convention that was fully embraced by the end of the War.
Like all such badges, the designs had the basis of a connection; either with history, geography or personality. The ‘Cambridgeshire Flash’ as it later became known owed its legacy to one of the 1/1st Battalion’s most celebrated and talented C.O.s, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Riddell. Riddell had earlier served in the Rifle Brigade and on taking command designed his own Headquarters flag, being a vertical black stripe on a Cambridge Blue field. It was this that was the basis of the badge discussed here.
There were clearly two forms, one square-shaped, the other rectangular and it is suggested that the differences were on account of supply and not essentially order.
The Cambridgeshire Regiment (T.F.) was disbanded at the end of the conflict but reformed on the birth of the Territorial Army in 1921, and with that the wartime patch consigned to memory. The Regiment continued but was finally axed in 1961 when it merged with Territorials from neighbouring Suffolk to form The Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Regiment T.A., but this too disappeared in 1967.
When The Royal Anglian Regiment was augmented by an additional T.A. battalion in 1971, a rifle company was established in Cambridge and become ‘D’ (Cambridgeshire) Company, VI (Volunteer) Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment. Those elder Cambridgeshire with influence in the County recognised that this new crop of T.A. soldiers would be their successors and therefore all traditions, honours, and significantly the wearing of their regimental tie be passed down to D Company and adopted with great pride.
It was in 1991 that the then Company Commander of D Company had a discussion with the writer, wishing to pursue further physical links with the former regiment, and correspondence began between he and the Imperial war Museum, who preserve most of the British Army’s WWI battle patches in their archives. As you will see, a sample was copied and sent, that badge influencing a somewhat smaller but more practical example, and following official approval was worn by all ranks.
Sadly D Company passed into history in 1999 when VI Battalion became a now familiar casualty of the exchequer and although that proud Territorial link has gone, the patch, like many of the Cambridgeshire Regiment traditions, continues today, to be worn by Cadets of Cambridgeshire ACF.
Courtesy of Martin Boswell 2018