Original British WW2 Army Formation Badge: 49th Infantry (Polar Bear)
Original Item: Found in the IMA clean up, just one wood crate of original packs of different formation badges used in the liberation of Europe in 1944/45. Officially adopted in 1941, these badges indicated the large formations under which a unit was serving. Several different Regiments may have served in one Brigade or Division.
These badges were only worn on Battle Dress Blouses, in most cases, issued in attached pairs, one for each bicep. In the case of animal symbols, these were made in mirrored pairs so that on each upper arm the animal could be facing frontward. In a few cases, in particular free Polish units, only one patch was used on the upper left arm. A truly excellent reference is from the book "FROM D-DAY TO V-E DAY,THE BRITISH SOLDIER" by Jean Bouchery Volume One.
All the offered badges were purchased in a Ministry of Defense Sale in 1996 at Bicester in Oxfordshire, England where they had presumably lain undisturbed since WW2. All are 100% cotton, wartime production, including one known to have been made in occupied Italy in 1943/44.
Each, except where noted, is offered in original one-piece fabric unit for the individual soldier to cut into two and then personally sew onto the upper arms of his Battle Dress Blouse.
49th West riding Infantry Division was known by a Polar Bear on an Ice Floe. Initially the 49th wore the WW1 sign of the "White Rose of Yorkshire". In 1940 the division was stationed in Norway until the German occupation forced them to relocate to Iceland after which the Polar Bear symbol was adopted. The 49th were at Normandy and fought up through Holland under Canadian Army Command. Original cotton double patch.
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