badge, formation, 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division

Catalogue number
  • INS 5446
Department
Exhibits
Materials
  • whole: textile
Dimensions
  • whole: 2.8in square
Alternative names
  • full name: badge, formation, 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division
  • simple name: badge, formation, British
Category
uniforms and insignia

© IWM (INS 5446)

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Physical description

badge A red letter 'W' resting on a red horizontal bar on a khaki ground with a blue and yellow Royal Army Service Corps arm of service strip below.

History note

There are many explanations for the badge design, some more fanciful than others. The simplest is that it stood for the "Welsh" origins of the Division, and / or the name of its commander at the time it was adopted, Maj. Gen. B. T. Wilson. Alternatives offered are that it represented a Bardic crown or the traditional tall hat of the Women of Wales. Perhaps most fancifully is a strictly military symbolism, the horizontal being the firm base of attack, the centre of the "W" being the spearhead of the attack and the two side arms being flanking movements. Other than Southern Command, this is probably the formation sign with the most variations. It is unique in having been produced with the formation sign in combination with most, if not all, the arm of service strips and the brigade seniority strips integral with the badge. In addition, versions are know with vertical red strips that are believed to denote battalion seniority within a brigade. Various combinations could be achieved by judicious folding of the badge. The system seems to have been in place by the beginning of 1942 at the latest as a Recce. Corps strip combination exists and this was approved by ACIs in December 1941. The Division was a First Line Territorial Army formation in September 1939 comprising Territorial Battalions of the Welch Regiment, the RWF, KSLI and the Monmouths and Herefordshires. The Division moved to Northern Ireland in July 1940 where it was designated for the active counter-attack role in the event of a German invasion of Eire. It returned to the UK at the end of April 1941. In May 1942 it reorganized as a mixed division (ie: two infantry and one tank brigades - 158 & 160 Infantry with 31 Tank Bdes.) and reorganized again as an infantry division in October 1943. It became part of 21 Army Group for the invasion of Europe and landed in Normandy on 21 June. It fought in the bridgehead and the breakout battles and later in the Ardennes and the Reichswald before taking part in the invasion of Germany. At the end of the War it formed part of the occupation forces under I Corps District. The Division was broken up when the TA was disbanded at the end of 1946 but was reformed in May 1947 with the reconstitution of the TA. It readopted its old badge.

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