Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment
(Berkshire and Wiltshire)
|In this section it is our intention to cover the
insignia worn by 1 DERR from 1959 to 1994. This will include cap badges,
helmet plates, shoulder flashes, Brigade and divisional signs with examples
shown where available.
people the inner meaning of Regimental Badges can be a mystery. Even if the
composition of a badge is understood, there is still the purpose of badges
to be appreciated as well as their history.
From the very earliest times primitive man found it necessary to have some
means of identifying friend from foe particularly in battle. To overcome his
difficulty he painted on his body the image of some animal or bird with
which he was familiar and whose qualities he considered he possessed or
wished to acquire. This idea was carried forward in the age of Chivalry when
Knights wore their Arms on a coat over their armour, hence Coat of Arms. It
will be remembered that the Crusaders wore the Red Cross of St. George over
the back and front of their armour. Badges were authorised to be borne on
the Regimental Colours of a few regiments in the middle of the 18th Century
but generally speaking the Number of the Regiment on buttons, belt plates
and head dress was the main means of distinguishing one regiment from
Early in the
nineteenth century, when regiments were allowed to incorporate in their
shako plate some form of regimental crest, the 62nd, in company with eleven
other regiments, adopted the Maltese Cross. Many of them were serving in the
Mediterranean at the time, some in company with the 62nd in
in 1806. The cross is the design of the Order of the Knights of Malta, whose
chief seat had been established in Catamea in
in 1800, to which place it had been transferred when the British took Malta.
The Maltese Cross, whose eight points symbolize the eight beatitudes of St.
Matthew’s Gospel, was not retained as a badge by all its original wearers,
but the 62nd kept it. Although there is no definite proof, it is reasonable
to suppose that associations with Sicily and Malta, during the Regiment’s
Mediterranean service between 1800 and 1813, were the reason for the choice
and retention. By 1828 Regimental Badges had become official and the 62nd’s
badge was shown as a Maltese Cross within an eight pointed star.
Later the shape and the name was changed to a Cross Patee. This with the
cypher and coronet of the Duke of Edinburgh was to remain as the badge of
The Wiltshire Regiment. The Officers of The Wiltshire Regiment wore a silver
Cross patee in their patrol dress and later in No. 1 dress and eventually in
all forms of dress, and was chosen to be the basis of the Regimental badge
of the new Regiment.
Dragon in the centre of the badge is the "China Dragon", the badge of The
Royal Berkshire Regiment. It is the Chinese Opium War, 1840-43 to which the
Royal Berkshire Regiment owes its badge.
British merchants were bringing great quantities of Opium into their country
and the Mandarins of Canton stole and destroyed vast quantities of the drug.
When this happened a force of troops were detached from India, amongst them
the 49th Regiment, to carry out reprisals. It is very difficult to justify
this action on any moral grounds, but commerce was important and this case
mercantile expedience appears to have outweighed all other considerations.
In all the 49th fought in six battles. Even so the fighting was rarely
severe and battle casualties were far outnumbered by those caused by
In his despatches General Gough, the commander, frequently referred to the
dash and courage shown by the 49th.
As a result of its efforts in the ‘Opium War’ the 49th Regiment was
permitted to adopt a China Dragon as its crest and to place the word ‘China’
on its Colours and Accoutrements
Coil of Rope
of rope surrounding the China Dragon is taken from the Officers' cap badge
of the Royal Berkshire Regiment thought to be in memory of Copenhagen.
In 1801 the British Government was seriously perturbed by the existence of
the French inspired Armed Neutrality of the North. It consisted of Russia,
Sweden, Denmark and Prussia, and as the first three had strong fleets it is
understandable that the British should have decided to strike a decisive
blow without waiting for any declaration of war. A fleet under Sir Hyde
Parker, with Nelson as second-in-command was despatched.
The nature of the port defences in the Baltic made it possible that land
operations might be necessary, so Admiral Parker was given a small military
force to go with him to do duty as marines. It consisted of the 49th
Regiment and a company of the newly formed Rifle Corps, later to become
known as The Rifle Brigade.
On the 2nd April, 1801 the fleet was opposed by the Danes at Copenhagen who
refused to allow them to pass. Nelson disobeyed the commands of Sir Hyde
Parker, forced his way to Copenhagen and sank or destroyed nearly the whole
of the Danish Fleet. The Danes were forced to allow our ships to enter the
Baltic Sea and we were able to make the Russians come to terms with us.
Detachments of the 49th were on board fourteen of the sixteen ships engaged.
In commemoration of its services the regiment received the battle honour
"Copenhagen", and the band was permitted to play ‘Rule Britannia’ after the
crown surmounting the coil of rope is that of the Prince Philip, Duke of
Edinburgh, the Regiment's Colonel in Chief.
patch worn behind the Regimental Cap and Collar badges is another reminder
of an action in which the 49th were engaged, and is known as the Brandywine
The outbreak of the American rebellion in 1775 sent the 49th Regiment across
the Atlantic for service in the Americas. It spent some time on garrison
duties, but in 1776 sailed as a unit of General How’s Army to take part in
the operations in the vicinity of New York. In the course of the following
year Howe transferred his troops to the mouth of the Delaware river with the
object of capturing Philadelphia. These operations went well and the Light
Company which at that time was detached from the regiment, particularly
distinguished itself, and earned the 49th its first honour. It should be
explained that in the eighteenth century commanders had a habit of
withdrawing flank companies from their parent units and grouping them into
ad hoc Grenadier and Light battalions.
In this instance on the night of the 20th September, 1777, the American
General Wayne, was encamped with 1,500 men in a forest in rear of the
British camp, near Brandywine Creek. It was decided to destroy this force by
a night attack with the bayonet only. The task was given to the 2nd Light
battalion which included the Light company of the 49th and the Light company
of the 46th, later to become the 2nd Bn Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
The British lost only a few men. The Americans, furious at this disaster,
were said to have threatened to give no quarter in future to the troops who
took part in the attack. According to Cannon’s History of the 46th, it was
decided that the companies engaged in the attacks should dye their green
feathers Red so that they might be known in future actions and thus save
others, who had not been present, from being refused quarter as threatened.
The Brandywine flash as worn today is a reminder of the action and of the
days when feathers were worn in the head dress.