ROYAL FLYING CORPS
These were the first pilot wings in the world and issued in February 1913.
They were designed by General Sir Frederick Sykes and General Sir David Henderson during WWI. Several foreign air forces around the world have adopted this design and created their own versions of these wings.
The insignia was superseded by the RAF wings in 1918.
RAF XIX FIGHTER SQUADRON
Founded in September 1915 as part of the Royal Flying Corps, the squadron operated across the Western Front during WWI.
The unit had several Aces including Major Hubert Harvey-Kelly who was the first RFC pilot to land in France in WWI. He also scored the first air-to-air victory during the Great War.
During WWII, under RAF Fighter Command, the 19th took part in several major offensives including the Battle of Britain. They also provided long-range escort support to RAF operations off the Norwegian coast.
After WWII the squadron was stationed at bases in Germany until finally deactivated in late 1992.
The Chindits was a Special Forces unit that infiltrated Japanese lines in Burma during WWII. They took part in two missions, Operation Longcloth then Operation Thursday.
Their leader, Major-General Orde Wingate, DSO gave them the name Chindits after the mythical guardian of Burmese temples, the Chinthe. This half-lion, half-griffin is shown on their patch, guarding a temple.
Operation Thursday was the second largest airborne invasion of WWII and an international force of over 20,000 men took part. To survive they relied totally on airdrops by the 1st Air Commando USAAF.
Japanese war propaganda leaflet
Size: W 3 1/4″ x H 4″
Hand embroidered with gold and silver wire bullion on a wool felt background
This WWII unit was founded in North Africa in late 1941 as an allied tactical air force. It was made up of squadrons from the Royal Air Force (RAF), US Army Air Force (USAAF), South African Air Force (SAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
It provided close air support to the British Eighth Army during the war in Northern Africa flying thousands of sorties using a variety of fighters and bombers supplied by each air force. As the war developed, they continued to give air support during Allied landings in Sicily and mainland Italy.
Size: W 1 1/4″ x H 2″ approx
Hand embroidered with gold and silver wire bullion on a black rectangle shaped background
THE GOLDFISH CLUB
This insignia belongs to a unique worldwide club. You can only become a member if you’ve had the unfortunate experience of evacuating your aircraft by parachute – into water – or if your life was saved by using a life jacket or survival dinghy.
It was formed in 1942 and by the end of WW2 it had over 9,000 members. This included WW1 aircrew who had survived similar incidents.
This ‘unofficial’ patch was hidden under the left pocket flap or lapel.
Surviving members of this group still meet up today and the group includes members of NATO forces and helicopter pilots who have had to, “ditch in the drink.”
The Eagle Squadrons were the first RAF squadrons to be formed with American volunteer pilots at the start of WWII.
These courageous young men quietly volunteered to help Britain fight for freedom during WWII, while America was still neutral. In so doing, they risked losing their U.S. citizenship under the American Neutrality Laws in force at that time.
There were three squadrons, 71, 121 and 133 and they flew Hurricanes and Spitfires.
RAF 71 (EAGLE) SQUADRON
The first of the Eagle Squadrons, the 71 was created in September 1940, during the Battle of Britain and became fully operational in February 1941.
In September 1942, it was transferred to the USAAF and became the 334th Fighter squadron of the 4th Fighter Group.
RAF 121 (EAGLE) SQUADRON
The second of the Eagle Squadrons, the 121 Squadron was formed in May 1941 and flew Hawker Hurricanes and Spitfires from a base in the south of England.
Joined by the 71 and the 133 it took part in Operation Jubilee – supporting the Allied landings at Dieppe – in August 1942, claiming nine enemy aircraft and damaging several others.
In September 1942, it was transferred to the USAAF and became the 335th Fighter squadron of the 4th Fighter Group.
RAF 133 (EAGLE) SQUADRON
The 133 Squadron was first formed in 1918, disbanded then reformed in 1941 with American volunteers, as the third of the Eagle squadrons.
It was equipped with Hurricane IIB fighters then Spitfire IIAs.
The squadron ran sweeps over France until September 1942 when it was transferred to the USAAF and became the 336th Fighter squadron of the 4th Fighter Group.
Size: W 3″ x H 4″
Hand embroidered with gold and silver wire bullion on a black wool felt background
RAF 617 “DAMBUSTERS” SQUADRON
This squadron was formed in 1943 to carry out one mission – Operation Chastise – against four Dams in the Ruhr using Barnes Wallis’ “bouncing bomb”.
This unique mission took place during the night of 16/17 May 1943.
ROYAL AIR FORCE (RAF) WINGS
This design was created in 1918, based on the original WWI RFC pilot wings designed by General Sir Frederick Sykes and General Sir David Henderson.
AIR TRANSPORT AUXILIARY WINGS
The ATA was a branch of the RAF and during WWII ferried new and repaired aircraft to the frontlines.
The Military Place carefully researches each patch to achieve authentic replication of size and color. However, due to lack of official standardization during the era to which the patch relates, and variations found, some elements may differ from historical documentation.
Image credits: Author, Pinterest.com/WWII/WWI