The four badge designs




Shield


Diamond


Pentagonal


Circular (Standard)

 

 

Royal Navy Ship's Badges

There are many badges that ‘appear’ to belong to the ships found within this web site –not all of them however are actually officially attributable to these vessels.

For a number of these ships the badge came with a re-issued ship’s name;  from 1919 ship’s badges had been standardised and the Admiralty seal of approval had to be given before a badge or motto was allowed to be worn by a ship. Prior to that date unofficial designs were in common use, some of these were resurrected by RN escort carriers, while some made up their own. Not all of these were given official approval.

Shapes of badges:
With the standardisation of ship’s badges in 1919 came four designs - Circular, Pentagonal, Shield and Diamond, which were allocated to four groups of vessel types:

 

Circular –Battleships & Battle Cruisers
Pentagonal – Cruisers
Shield – Destroyers
Diamond – All other vessel types and shore establishments

 

This was revised after 1939 and escort carriers bearing ship’s names that had not been in use before received circular badges, as did Fleet Air Arm squadrons. Thos with a re-used name inherited the badge but were transferred into the circular (now known as the standard) design shape.

 

Admiralty Sealed Patterns

Designs were submitted as watercolours and those which were approved were passed to the College of Arms for a’ Sealed Pattern’ to be made for the Admiralty. From this pattern a full size wooden carving was then produced. The master carving was then used to make a mould to cast metal versions for approval. The master carvings and artwork were held at RN Dockyard Chatham until its closure in 1984; they are now held by Davenport Naval Dockyard.

The first ship of the Royal Navy to bear an official badge was HMS Warwick in 1919

 

Official Ships Badges issued to escort carriers:

ACTIVITY, AMEER, ARBITER, ARCHER, ATHELING, ATTACKER, BATTLER, BEGUM, BITER, CAMPANIA, CHASER, EMPEROR, EMPRESS, FENCER, HUNTER, KHEDIVE, NAIRANA, PATROLLER, PREMIER, PURSUER, QUEEN, RAJAH, RANEE, RAVAGER, REAPER, RULER, SEARCHER, SHAH, SLINGER, SMITER, SPEAKER, STALKER, STRIKER, TRACKER, TROUNCER, TRUMPETER, VINDEX

Unofficial Ship’s Badges

Several designs appear to have been produced by the ship's officers and used before the authorised pattern was passed. These unofficial designs may have been submitted for approval but were declined; this is suggested by the fact that a number of these designs were cast in metal and were mounted o the bridge superstructure and the entry port.

 

Unapproved badges for ships that had no official one approved before the war ended.

 

 

Unapproved badges compared with the official designs

 

 

Unapproved badges cast in metal and displayed on newly commissioned ships

       ATTACKER              NABOB                 PUNCHER            REAPER            SMITER                 THANE


Ships not issued with a badge:

There a re several reasons why no badge appears for a ship; the most common is the ship was lost before a design was approved, another is the fact that the ship was returned to US custody before a design was approved (some designs were not approved until mid 1945 and if a design was not finalised before the war ended it may have been abandoned).

 

Lost: AUDACITY, AVENGER, DASHER

Damaged beyond repair: NABOB, THANE

Returned to US custody before badge approved: CHARGER, KHEDIVE

Unknown reason: PRETORIA CASTLE


Reused names:

Only a few of the war time names had been used before, the majority were in use for the first time since their names were chosen to reflect the class names.

 

In 1947 a total of 17 ship’s names were reissued to Tank Landing Craft (LSTs); ATTACKER, AVENGER, BATTLER, CHARGER, CHASER, HUNTER, PUNCHER, PURSUER, RAVAGER, SEARCHER, SLINGER, SMITER, STALKER, STRIKER, TRACKER, TROUNCER, and TRUMPETER .

In the 1980s 9 more names  were reused for P2000 class patrol craft; ARCHER, BITER, DASHER, CHARGER, PUNCHER, PURSUER, SMITER TRACKER, and TRUMPETER. Initially these were used by the Royal Naval Reserve but were transferred to the university Royal Naval Units,  in 1990.

 

Heraldic terns explained

The heraldic description of a ships badge is called a 'Blazon; and it contains many words and phrases which have no modern day equivalents. Many are from the French and Latin.

  Bend Bend
An ordinary in the form of a broad diagonal stripe from top left (dexter chief) to bottom right (sinister base) of a shield or part of one.
  Bezant Bezant
A roundel of a gold colour. Reverence to a gold or silver coin originally minted at Byzantium.
  Billet Billet
A small oblong figure.
Chaplet Chaplet
A garland or circlet for a person's head.
  Chief Chief
occupies the first upper third of the field.
  Charge Charge
Anything borne on a coat of arms, whether upon the field, or imposed upon another charge (this is termed as Charged).
Couped Couped
Cut off in a straight line, as is often the case with heads and limbs.
Debruise Debruise
a term applied more especially to an animal having an ordinary or other charge over it, which also extends over part of the field as well. It is more usual to blazon an ordinary thus treated as 'surmounted by',
 Demi Demi
Half.
  Dexter Dexter
the right-hand side of the shield, to the left of the spectator.
  Erased Erased
violently torn off, leaving a jagged edge; the term is chiefly applied to the heads and limbs of animals.
 Fesse Fesse
An ordinary in the form of a broad horizontal stripe across the middle of the shield.
Golpe Golpe
A purple roundel.
  Habited Habited
Clothed or vested.
  Hauriant Hauriant
A term applied to a fish in an erect position.
  Naiant Naiant
Swimming: applied to a fish borne fesswise.
  Langued Langued
Reference to the tongue of a lion, or other quadruped, when of a different tincture (colour).
  Ordinaries Ordinaries
An Ordinary is a simple geometrical figure (charge) in common use in arms , bounded by straight lines and running from side to side or top to bottom of the shield.
  Pale Pale
The charge occupies the centre third of the width of the shield.
  Passant Passant
(of an animal) represented as walking, with the right front foot raised. The animal is depicted in profile facing the dexter side with the tail raised, unless otherwise specified.
  Pellet Pellet
A roundlet sable (a raised black button).
  Propper Propper
When a charge is represented in its natural colour it is said to be proper.
  Respectant Respectant
(or Respecting each other) used in describing two animals, birds or fishes borne face to face.
  Roundle Roundle
General name given to the circles borne on shields, and to which specific names are given according to their tinctures (colour) Argent (Silver), Gules (Red), Sable (Black), Azure (Blue), Vert (Green), Purpure (Purple), Tenné (Tenny [non-standard tincture, of orange, brown or orange-tawny colour]), Sanguine (Blood colour).
  Saltire - Saltirewise Saltire - Saltirewise
Crossing diagonally.
  Sinister Sinister
Of, on, or towards the left-hand side.
  Statant Statant
(Of an animal) standing with all four paws on the ground.
   Traverse Traverse
Across the shield horizontally.
  Vambraced Vambraced
Entirely covered with armour.

  Volant Volant
Term used to signify that the wings are extended in a horizontal position, and representing the bird in full flight.


 

Sources used for heraldic descriptions and the means attached to certain elements used n ship's badges

Parker's Heraldry -A Dictionary of Heraldic Terms

Armorial Gold Heraldry Symbolism Library

 


 

Home page | go to the top

 

Copyright © 2005 -2018-2018The Royal Navy Research Archive