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A GUIDE TO NEW ZEALAND REINFORCEMENT BADGES

by Geoffrey J. Lowe & Allen Young

The range and variety of the reinforcement badges to the First New Zealand Expeditionary Force of the 1914-18 War, are a fascinating aspect of New Zealand's military history, and are probably in some respects unique within the British sphere.

These badges were unofficial and ordered and paid for by the individual soldiers themselves, and were discarded on arrival at Sling Camp in England. They were manufactured in New Zealand by badge manufacturers and jewelers.

The fact that the wearing of definite hat and collar badges, by regiments and corps, never appears to have been strictly enforced in the New Zealand Army, unlike the British Army, together with their natural independent outlook, was probably the basis for the wearing of these individualistic badges.

Some N.Z. soldiers in the W.W.1 period are pictured wearing hat badges on their collars, and vice versa, as well as shoulder titles on their hats.

Some types of badges were produced in silver and gold, or a combination of both, and given by the men to their sweethearts, wives and mothers. Likewise, some of the brass badges were produced with brooch fastenings, and others later had their lugs removed and brooch clips or clasps fitted.

Although unofficial, the badges were widely worn on the N.Z. military uniform, and some soldiers may have even worn them later in the war. Many of the photographs of the men published in the casualty lists in the "Auckland Weekly News", of the period show men wearing different types of reinforcement badges.
  • They may be broadly grouped under three main headings, as follows:
    • Infantry reinforcements
    • Mounted rifle reinforcements
    • Specialist reinforcements 
      • machine gunners 
      • signalers 
      • bandsmen 
      • rifle and 
      • reserve brigades, etc.
  • In turn, the infantry reinforcement badges, which numerically are by far the greater of the three, may be classified into two main groups:
    • (A) Those made for use by the 1st to 43rd reinforcements, using certain basic frames with numbers and letters superimposed.
    • (B) The badges destined for individual reinforcements from the 17th to 33rd inclusive. These were seventeen different designs, mostly with a New Zealand motif, such as the moa bird, maori canoe, etc, and came with matching collar badges.

After the 33rd, a general pattern badge with matching collars, incorporating "NZ" within fern leaves, and "Expeditionary Force", on a scroll at the base, became popular.

To a lesser degree, the previous types with basic frames as in (A), were in use conjointly with (B).

This article now attempts to explain and illustrate the basic frames used as hat badges in group (A). The collar badges will be dealt with in a later article.

As these images show there were also New Zealand Field Artillery Reinforcements badges. The badge on the far left carries the word "REINFORCEMENTS" in the scroll


The following listing of reinforcements is included to provide some background on the badges used.

NEW ZEALAND EXPEDITIONARY FORCE INFANTRY REINFORCEMENTS

Dates of Departure from New Zealand
Main Body including 1st Reinforcements 16 Oct. 1914
2nd Reinforcements  14 Dec. 1914
3rd Reinforcements  14 Feb. 1915
4th Reinforcements  17 April 1915
5th Reinforcements  13 June 1915
6th Reinforcements  14 Aug. 1915
Advance Party - 1st & 2nd Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade  18 Sept. 1915
7th Reinforcements 1st Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade 9 Oct. 1915
8th Reinforcements 2nd Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade 13 Nov. 1915
9th Reinforcements 3rd Reinforcements to 1 st & 2nd Battalions & Advance Party of 3rd & 4th Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade.3rd & 4th Battalions, plus 1 st Reinforcements to 3rd & 4th 5 Feb. 1916 Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade. 8 Jan 1916
10th Reinforcements 4th Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade 4 Mar. 1916
11th Reinforcements 5th Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade
2nd Reinforcements to 3rd & 4th Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade
I April 1916
12th Reinforcements First Draft 6th Reinforcements to 1st Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade I May 1916
12th Reinforcements Second Draft 6th Reinforcements to 2nd Battalion plus
3rd Reinforcements to 3rd & 4th Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade
6 May 1916
13th Reinforcements 7th Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions plus
4th Reinforcements to 3rd & 4th Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade.
27 May 1916
14th Reinforcements 8th Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions plus
5th Reinforcements to 3rd & 4th Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade
26 June 1916
15th Reinforcements First Draft 9th Reinforcements to 2nd Battalion plus
6th Reinforcements to 3rd Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade
26 July 1916
15th Reinforcements Second Draft 9th Reinforcements to Ist Battalion plus
6th Reinforcements to 4th Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade
29 July 1916
16th Reinforcements First Draft 10th Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade 19 Aug. 1916
16th Reinforcements Second Draft 7th Reinforcements to 4th Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade 20 Aug. 1916
16th Reinforcements Third Draft 7th Reinforcements to 3rd Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade 21 Aug. 1916
17th Reinforcements First Draft 8th Reinforcements to 3rd & 4th Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade 23 Sept 1916
17th Reinforcements Second Draft 11th Reinforcements to 1st & 2nd Battalions N.Z. Rifle Brigade 25 Sept 1916

Each reinforcement leaving New Zealand consisted of several companies. The Rifle Brigade reinforcements listed above were combined with the infantry reinforcement numbers, which sailed at the same time, but given different company letters. This will now be explained in more detail, as the majority of these badges bore a company letter, as well as a reinforcement number.

  • Company Letters ;To commence with there were four infantry companies:

    • A Auckland 

    • B Wellington 

    • C Canterbury 

    • D Otago


These first four letters applied all the way through. Each of the 1st to the 6th reinforcements were made up of A B C & D companies of infantry only.

  • From the 7th to the 10th reinforcements, A B C & D companies were supplemented by E & F.

    • E - 1st Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade reinforcement.

    • F - 2nd Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade reinforcement.

With later reinforcements, the letters E to J were not used consistently for the same type of unit. 

e.g. As from the 21st reinforcement E & F were infantry companies.

  • The 11th reinforcement included A B C & D companies of infantry, 

    • E (1st Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade 5th reinforcement)

    • F (2nd Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade 5th reinforcement)

    • G (3rd Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade 2nd reinforcement)

    • H (4th Battalion N.Z. Rifle Brigade 2nd reinforcement)

    • J & K were infantry reinforcements. 

      • This was the only time that K was used.

The 12th reinforcement consisted of A B C & D companies of infantry, E F G H companies of the N.Z. Rifle Brigade, and J company, Wellington infantry battalion, reinforcements.

The 13th to 16th reinforcements were similar to the 12th, except that J company was an infantry reinforcement.

It should be noted at this point, that as the soldiers ordered their badges according to individual preference from the selection of frames available, the designs can vary, even within the same company, hence the wide variety. The hat badges of group (A), were also used in conjunction with collar badges of group (B) by some soldiers.

Infantry Reinforcement Basic Frame Types of Hat Badges

The following information on the basic frames of hat badges illustrated, and individually numbered, has been compiled from photographic evidence of the badges having been worn on actual uniforms, together with a knowledge of the units which traveled on each reinforcement; rather than from badges existing in individual collections.

  • Type No. 1 

    • Numbered for reinforcements I to 3. Reinforcement number 1 sailed with the Main Body. This type appears to have been mainly worn as a collar badge, and some had a scroll underneath, with the word, "Reinforcement". 

      • The scroll also exists, for reasons unknown, with the words, "England", "France", and "Russia".

 

  • Type No. 2 

    • This type has a solid back, and was worn by reinforcements 3 to 8. 

 

  • Type No. 3 

    • This type was worn by reinforcements 4 to 9.

 

  • Type No. 4

    • Worn by reinforcements 6 to 8.

  • Type No. 5 

    • This type has "N" and "Z" set in circles, on the fern leaves, and was worn by reinforcements 7 to 11.

  • Type No. 6 

    • This type has "N" and "Z" on the fern leaves, and "R" at the base of the leaves, and was worn by reinforcements 7 to 13.

 

  • Type No. 7 

    • This type is fairly similar to Type 2, but has a pressed back, and was worn by reinforcements 7 to 9.

 

  • Type No. 8 

    • This type has "N.Z. EXPEDIT. FORCES", on scroll, and was worn by reinforcements 9 to 14.

 

  • Type No. 9 

    • This type has "N" and "T' on the fern leaves, and "EXPEDIT. FORCES-, on scroll, and was worn by reinforcements to 16.

 

  • Type No. 10 

    • This type has a small crown, centred on tips of fern leaves, and was worn by reinforcements 10 to 14.

 

  • Type No. 11 

    • Worn by reinforcements 11 to 21. 

      • Badge A/XI being the first, was made in one piece.

 

  • Type No. 12 

    • This type has a large crown, placed on top of the tips of the fern leaves, and was worn by reinforcements 11 to 20.

 

  • Type No. 13 

    • Worn by reinforcement 12 only.

 

NZ WW1 13th Reinforcements Brass Cap Badge
  • Type No. 14 

    • Worn by reinforcements 13 to late reinforcements. 

      • Badge XIII being the first, was made in one piece.

 

  • Type No. 15 

    • Worn by reinforcement 14 only.

 

  • Type No. 16 

    • This type has a large size kiwi, and was worn by reinforcement 14 only.

 

  • Type No. 17 

    • This type has a small size kiwi, and was worn by reinforcements 15 to 18.

 

  • Type No. 18 

    • This type was worn by reinforcements 16E and 16F only. 

 

  • Type No. 19 

    • Worn by reinforcement 17 only.

 

  • Type No. 20 

    • Worn by reinforcements 17 to 21.

 

  • Type No. 21 

    • Worn by reinforcements 16 to later reinforcements.

 

It is not within the scope of this article to explore relative rarity. However, it will be seen that the different types appear more or less in sequence, and that these badges did not become really popular until about the 7th reinforcement.

In the majority of badges, the reinforcement number and company letter has been superimposed by the manufacturer, on to a basic frame, by the use of a separate letter joined to a number, such B/12. But the first badge produced for some types was made in one piece, eg types 11, 14, 16, 18, 19 and 20. It is quite possible that the highest numbers shown may have been exceeded in some cases.

  • The known manufacturers were as follows: 

    • Anderson Allen - Auckland 

    • Blacksell - Wellington 

    • Wm. Bock - Wellington 

    • Mayer & Kean - Wellington 

    • Moller & Sons - Dunedin 

    • Moller & Young - Christchurch 

    • Robertson - Palmerston North 

    • John Swan & Co - Dunedin 

    • Watts - Auckland 

    • Young & Co - Auckland 

    • G & T Young - Oamaru, Timaru, Dunedin & Wellington.

It is hoped that this article will be of use to historians and collectors, and will no doubt provoke and provide some interesting points for discussion, and will it is hoped produce further evidence in this field.

  • Appreciation is expressed to Laurie Osborne for a record of his extensive collection.

  • The writer would be most interested to hear from readers with information on unusual reinforcement badges, for possible inclusion in future articles. Please send details and pencil rubbings, if possible, to: PO Box 39-254, Auckland West.

as published in the journal of the NZ Military Historical Society, June 1984

Below are shown some examples of badges that have been offered for sale. I cannot vouch for their authenticity.

 

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