NZ Onward Badge

onward-1The 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.onward-maker

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 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.onward-picture-frameThis 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.onward-trench-artThe 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.


7 thoughts on “NZ Onward Badge

  1. Pingback: 2nd NZ Divisional Cavalry Regiment | kiwisoldier

  2. According to the War Diary of the 22nd Battalion “as from today red flashes were worn under the cap badge by personnel of this Bn”
    (known as the 22 (NZ) Motor Battalion)


  3. Perhaps someone has mentioned that ONWARD is also the motto on the crest of my King’s Own Calgary Regiment, which fought as “Calgary Tanks” during WW2, and dates back to the 103rd Regiment “Calgary Rifles” in the early 1900s. Interesting that we share this common motivator!
    You can see the crest at the website linked below.
    The Regimental history is well presented at


  4. Some additional background on the WW2 2NZEF Badge, I have found an entry in the May 1940 NZEF DADOS War Diary which provides an insight into the NZEF badge situation in early 1940.…3-may-1940.pdf

    The entry for May 1 1940, states that there was a great shortage of Cap and Collar Badges in the 1st Echelon. To make up the shortfall, the following had been ordered through the High Commissioner;
    10000 sets R&F (Rank and File) badges
    1600 sets Officers badges

    In all cases, a set was to consist of 1 Cap Badge and 2 Collar badges.

    As these would take some time to arrive from England, quotations were called from local suppliers on May 1 for 2000 sets of R&F badges as an interim measure.

    The Local vendor Tewfik Bichai was selected on May 2 to provide the 2000 sets. 1000 to be delivered on May 21 with the Balance on May 31. The diary confirms that 1000 sets were received on May 22 but no entry for the final 1000 is in the diary. Given that these 2000 locally produced badges were manufactured in less than 20 days, it is highly probable that they were produced by the sand cast method.


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