Silver War Badge

A commonly seen item is the lapel badge frequently called the ‘wound badge’ or ‘discharge badge’, but more accurately known as the Silver War Badge (SWB). Authorised on 12 September 1916, it was granted to anyone in British and Imperial forces who was discharged from the services on the grounds of wounds, injuries or sickness while on war duties at home or abroad. The convex badge, fretted in silver, is fitted with a pin to the plain reverse, which is stamped with an individual number – though it is not the recipient’s service number. It is frequently claimed that these badges, intended to be worn on civilian dress, were conferred to stop men being harassed by women offering them white feathers for failing to do military service, but there is no foundation for this. It is much more to be seen as a simple and immediate recognition of ‘services rendered’ – as it says- before any other general awards were available.

Below is the SWB as it was issued to former NZ service men.swb1On the rear of the badge you can see the stamped number. The NZ prefix is found on all badges issued to former 1st NZEF men.swb2You can see that this example has the number NZ22695 stamped into it. As previously mentioned this number is not a service number but is a unique number that is found on the certificate that was issued to the former soldier that they were required to carry while the were in civilian dress to show they had authority to wear the badge.

An example of this certificate is below.swb-certYou can see that the number written above the name of the Director of Base records, minus the NZ, is the same number that is stamped onto the back of the SWB.swb-cert-clseFor SWB issued to British troops it is possible to trace the recipient via the reverse number using files held at UK National Archives unfortunately as far as I know there is no way of tracing the NZ number. There must have been a register of these numbers in NZ but I have not been able to find any trace of it at NZ National Archives or NZ Defence Force Archives.

If anyone does know, or suspects, where this roll might be please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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