The four badge designs
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
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
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
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).
AUDACITY, AVENGER, DASHER
repair: NABOB, THANE
Returned to US
custody before badge approved: CHARGER, KHEDIVE
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.
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.
A roundel of a gold colour. Reverence to a gold
or silver coin originally minted at Byzantium.
A small oblong figure.
A garland or circlet for a person's head.
occupies the first upper third of the field.
Anything borne on a coat of arms, whether upon the
field, or imposed upon another charge (this is termed as Charged).
Cut off in a straight line, as is often the case
with heads and limbs.
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
the right-hand side of the shield, to the left of the spectator.
violently torn off, leaving a jagged edge; the term is chiefly
applied to the heads and limbs of animals.
An ordinary in the form of a broad horizontal stripe across the
middle of the shield.
A purple roundel.
Clothed or vested.
A term applied to a fish in an erect position.
Swimming: applied to a fish borne fesswise.
Reference to the tongue of a lion, or other quadruped, when of a
different tincture (colour).
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.
The charge occupies the centre third of the width of the shield.
(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.
A roundlet sable (a raised black button).
When a charge is represented in its natural colour it is said to be
(or Respecting each other) used in describing two animals, birds or
fishes borne face to face.
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
Of, on, or towards the left-hand side.
(Of an animal) standing with all four paws on the ground.
Across the shield horizontally.
Entirely covered with armour.
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
Heraldry Symbolism Library
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