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Category: Badges

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Trade, Proficiency & Skill at Arms Badges,1900 to approx 1960 Page 2

  • Please note that these are British badges but as the armies of Australia and New Zealand were close to carbon copies of the British Army most of them would have been worn by Australian & New Zealand troops. 
    • Images courtesy CWO H H "Sarge" Booker 2nd, of the USA
  • The design of current badges can also be linked with these old versions.
Hotchkiss Gunner Qualified Instructor


Lewis Gunner (HG stood for Hotchkiss Gunner)

WW1 this was heavy machine gunner. WW2 it was medium machine gunner. A star worn above this badge indicated the best machine gunner in the Company or Squadron

Sub machine gunner (WW2).

Riding Instructor

Corporal Anti tank (WW2) Marksman


Motor transport Layer (as in gun layer) A similar one with "H" was for "Height Taker" in Anti Aircraft units
  • Badge of the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Brigade of Guards.


  • It is this appointment that sets the tone for all RSMs in the Empire/Dominions/Commonwealth


3 variations of the badge of rank of Regimental Sergeant Majors.
In Australia we know this as the rank badge of a Warrant Officer Class 1. In the British Army it could also be Regimental Corporal Major, Regimental Sergeant Major and with a horse shoe added a Farrier Corporal Major. In Australia we know this as the rank badge for a Warrant Officer Class 2. In the British Army it was also Squadron Corporal Major, Company Sergeant Major etc.

Regimental Signal Instructor (on upper arm) or Regimental Signaler depending (on lower arm) Driver

Badge of the "wheeler" or wheelwright could be worn by many ranks up to wheeler major and later by pattern makers, shipwrights, carriage & wagon repairers as well as wood turners & machinists. Shown in white metal and embroidered.
  • Badges of the Physical Training Instructors (PTI) in metal and embroidered.
Trumpeter Motor Cyclist

Army "Outward Bound" School Dispatch rider (Don R)
Farrier (horse shoe fitter). Saddler (& harness maker)


Army Recruiter


Unidentified trade badge. Note the heavier wreath on one side. Possibly a "D" group trades badge.

If you know for sure what this is please Email

TRADE BADGES with spray or wreath: Embroidered on khaki, worn on lower left arm.  

Ground Gunner

  • A   Group A trades. (see notes)
  • AE Ammunition Examiner
  • AFV Armoured Fighting Vehicle.
  • AI is Assistant Instructor
  • AT Anti-Tank Gunner.
  • B   Group B trades. (see notes)
  • BC Bren Gun Carrier Crew.
  • BDS Bomb Disposal Squad (unofficial).
  • BG Bren Gunner.
  • C   Group C trades. (see notes)
  • C also Cook.
  • CP Control Police (for crowd control)
  • D   Group D trades. (see notes)
  • DM Driver/Maintenance.
  • DO Driver Operator.
  • DR Dispatch Rider.
  • EG  Experimental Gunnery Assistant
  • G Gunner 1st class RTC & RTR
  • G (with crown or star) Gunnery in RA
  • GG for Ground Gunners (see above)
  • GM Gunner/Mechanic. 
  • GO Gunner Observer
  • GO Gunner/Operator.
  • H is for First Class Height Taker.
  • HG Hotchkiss Gunner.
  • IC Internal Combustion Driver.
  • L Layer. (gun layer)
  • LG Light Machine Gunner.
  • LMG Light Machine Gunner.
  • MC Motorcyclist.
  • MG Medium Machine Gunner.
  • MM Mortar Man.
  • MT Motor Transport
  • P Fortress Plotting Room Personnel, RA.
  • QI Qualified Instructor (below sergeant)
  • R First Class Range Taker.
  • R Range-finder.
  • S Sniper (if over crossed rifles)
  • S in spray Battery Surveyor, Royal Artillery
  • S in wreath Surveyor Classes II & III
  • S (with crown) Surveyor 1st class
  • SB Stretcher Bearer.
  • SMG Sub-Machine Gunner
  • SP Special Proficiency.
  • T Technician
Notes: "With so many tradesmen groups appearing it was decided to distinguish many by pay grading and thus groups A and B were introduced, the badges having the old English letters between laurel sprays to indicate the group. 

There were for a time trade groups with C and D markings. 

The C within the laurel to indicate cook. 

Other unusual trades include experimental assistants, gunnery, who wear the badge of a theodolite with the EG with a laurel wreath." 

from "Badges and Insignia of the British Armed Services." 

Machine gunners: "The development of automatic weapons also brought fresh badges. In 1917 the first class marksman for the Lewis gun and the Hotchkiss gun wore the initials LG and HG respectively over laurel sprays. In 1921 LG became the initials for the light machine gunner. The initials MG, which had indicated the heavy machine gun branch, changed by 1944 to indicate the medium machine gun marksman. The machine gunners also had variations to mark their skill-at-arms and their competition badges included the grades for skill in shooting which were marked by crossed rifles. A star over the MG in a wreath was worn by the best man in each MG squadron or support company."

Artillerymen - special duties: "Qualification badges in skill-at-arms for artillery include many with letter and laurel sprays or wreath. The L worn on the upper arm of layers is well known, having been worn early in the century. The H for height-taker became an anti-aircraft skill in 1939. The cursive R for range-taker first class of artillery and infantry goes back to 1914. The O in a wreath marked the qualified observer from 1915 up to 1921. The plotter of the Royal Artillery (including WRAC personnel) as well as the predictor members of the anti-aircraft artillery took the cursive P over laurel sprays about 1939. The first-class gunner in the Royal Tank Corps wore the G in the wreath and the introduction of anti-tank guns brought a new badge for the gun-layer (not in the artillery) of a Roman AT over the laurel sprays."

Special proficiency: "There are many other badges many of which have now disappeared. There was the SP for special proficiency worn from 1939 to 1950, the FS for field security police. There is the propeller for members of the old RASC fleet and two versions of a diver's helmet, one with SW for shallow water divers."

Tradesmen: "When tradesmen in the army were being recognized, their trade was that as already indicated by their skill-at-arms or proficiency badges. As they were frequently assumed for the trades it is difficult to say which wearer is which unless precise dating or circumstances can be quoted. Some of the oldest badges date before 1864. There is the horse shoe of the farrier which was worn on his headdress in the 18th century but much later as an arm badge. As a trade badge the farrier-sergeant wore the shoe over his three chevrons. The bit was the sign of the saddler and collar-maker (not in cavalry regiments but artillery, etc.). The wheel of the wheeler and carpenter could also be worn by as high a rank as wheeler-major, and in modern times by the pattern maker, the shipwright, carriage, and wagon repairer as well as wood turner and machinist. The crossed pincers and hammer of the fitter or smith continue un use for a variety of trades like armourer, blacksmith, boilermaker, electrical fitter, engine fitter, and many other fitters, grinder, metal machinist, and many other trades. This badge can be worn with rank markings."


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