The NZ Official History (Problems of 2nd NZEF) notes that “It had been decided in New Zealand while the First Echelon was training there, that 2nd NZEF should wear a universal hat badge, which was to be distinctive of New Zealand”. Part of the reason given by the minister of Defence, as reported in the Herald newspaper 15 February 1940 was the production difficulty in producing badge dies for the various mounted and infantry regiments. But another reason mentioned for having a universal badge was that during the First World War the large number of badges worn by New Zealanders while overseas did cause some confusion. The loss of the wearing of the Territorial badges did cause quite a bit of consternation in the papers. In the First World War New Zealanders had worn their peacetime regimental badges, in which except under close examination there was nothing of a distinctive New Zealand nature, artistic though many of them were. The Australians, on the other hand, had adopted a universal badge – the rising sun – which, while having nothing particularly Australian about it, was clearly distinctive and became widely known. In 1939 a badge had been designed and made in New Zealand, and had been issued to the First Echelon before departure. The “Onward” badge was supposed to universal however many of the corps badges like Artillery, Machine Gun and Medical continued to wear their own badges.
The back of the above badge shows that this particular example was made by Mayer and Kean Limited of Wellington. Some of the M&K badges are dated on the other scroll end, unfortunately this one is not.
The onward badge can be found in both “Slider” and “Lugs and split pin”.
As well as the normal stamped brass these badges can be found as “Sand Cast”.
Much cruder than the original badge but if you were missing your original issue badge and faced a risk of having a stoppage to your pay to purchase a replacement, than having someone cast a badge for you that would look good from a distance and not cost you too much would be worth doing.
The normal backing to this badge when worn on the General Service cap was the black diamond.With the approval for the 4th Armoured Brigade to wear the black Tank Beret the routine orders dated 26 December 1942 gave the instruction that the onward badge was to be backed in red material. This particular example is another example of a sand cast.
Not to be outdone members of the NZ Divisional Cavalry were given the instruction in Routine Orders dated 12 February 1943 to wear a green backing behind their onward badges.
The image of the Onward badge became quite popular and can be found on all sorts of items some of which are shown below.
First off is the certificate signed by Freyberg which was issued to a member of the 28th (Maori) Battalion to acknowledge the awarding of the Military Medal (MM).
Another neat little item using the onward image is this photo frame. The material has been screen printed with the onward fern leaves and onward scroll leaving room in the center for the photo.This last item is interesting in that it is a piece of trench art produced by one of the Japanese prisoners held in the POW camp at Featherston.The Onward badge was last worn by NZ members to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (the NZ component was known as “J Force”) 1946-48. However the influence of this badge can also be seen in the badges that followed it. The NZ Regiment wore a badge reminiscent of the Onward badge.
The 1960’s designed Royal NZ Infantry Regiment badge was a combination of the two badges it followed, using the fern leaves crown (now ERII) and base scroll with Onwards of the WW2 badge and the central image of the Kiwi from the NZ regiment badge.