badge, internal security force, Sudan Defence Force.

Catalogue number
  • INS 6077
  • backing: cloth
  • badge: cloth
Alternative Names
  • FULL NAME: badge, internal security force, Sudan Defence Force.
  • SIMPLE NAME: badge, Sudanese.
uniforms and insignia

© IWM (INS 6077)

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History note

This particular sign seems to call on the imagery of what was probably the most senior of the five Corps comprising the SDF, the Camel Corps. Cole (1973, p.107) says that the design derived from the postage stamps of the Sudan. This badge almost certainly dates from after the Italian surrender in East Africa in 1942. At this time the hitherto irregular SDF Corps were formed into formal battalions and brigades, one brigade being deployed on the Lines of Communication of 8th Army in Libya and Cyrenaica. Previously each of the irregular Corps had its own tradition, badge, flash and special coloured cummerbund (hizam). A similar sign, without the "SDF" initials, and possibly with a white background, is said to have been used by HQ Sudan and Eritrea, presumably the British forces in these areas. The Sudan was never a part of the British Empire but there is no doubt that it was firmly within the British sphere of influence. Following a period of political unrest the British ordered Egypt to withdraw all her forces from the Sudan. The SDF was created on 17 January 1925 to fill the resulting vacuum. Its task was primarily internal security and to act as an aid to the civil power in the form of the armed civil police in restraining inter-tribal violence, cattle raiding and slave trading. The SDF was based on the local Arab and Sudanese units that had formerly served in the Sudan under Egyptian Army command. The (British) Governor General of the Sudan was the commander in chief and took his guidance from the Foreign Office rather than the Colonial Office as did the TJFF andArab Legion. Under him was a military commander, a British officer of Brigadier or Major General's rank who took the local title of Kaid, a title dating back to the days of Turkish sovereignty in the area. Command of the constituent units was vested in British officers who also adopted Turkish titles: Miralai (Colonel), Kaimkan (Lt. Col.), both of which were entitled to the honorific "Bey", and Bimbashi (Major), the most junior rank held by British officers. Sudanese officers played an important role in the more junior ranks, as in the Indian Army. At the outbreak of war the SDF was around 4,500 all ranks and consisted of the pre-existing five irregular Corps, each of around 1000 officers and men in two or more Companies. HQ SDF was at Khartoum, along with a military school (ex Egyptian Army), and a detachment of sappers. The Camel Corps was probably the most senior of the Corps, having been created in 1883 as a regiment in the Egyptian Army and serving in the Gordon Relief Expedition. It was based at El Obeid in the central Kordofan Province, and was responsible for a large area of desert and the Nuba Mountains to the south. The Eastern Arab Corps, based at Gedaref and Kassala and responsible for the broder with Abyssinia. The Western Arab Corps, of two mounted infantry Companies, was in the western province of Darfur. The Equatoria Corps, formed in 1917 and usually known as the "Equats", was responsible for the most southern province, comprising large areas of equatorial jungle, with six Companies, often in the form of small detachments, with HQ at Torit. The Shendi Horse comprised three squadrons of mounted rifles and was based at Shendi in Northern Province, 125 north of Khartoum. The SDF expanded to about six times its original size during WW2. Some of the six Motor Machine Gun Companies existing at the outbreak of the War expanded to Groups and the Shendi Horse converted in 1941 to artillery, three Troops of 3.7" pack howitzers, changing their title to the Northern Arab Corps. A highly irregular unit, the Banda Bakr, joined the East Arab Corps. This Corps formed a Composite Battalion based on its 3rd Idara Company. The northern Corps all raised an additional Company which was then formed into the Frontier Battalion which eventually formed part of Gideon Force and later, as part of a SDF Brigade, was engaged in Eritrea against Shifta bandits. After the Italian defeat in 1942 the Corps wetre converted to battalions and some were brought under a brigade structure. One such served on 8th Army's Lines of Communication in Libya and Cyrenaica, also serving as part of British deception plans by masquerading as 12th Division. In this role the 12 Div. white diamond sign was worn, possibly in addition to the SDF badge. The approach of Sudanese independence meant that all British officers were replaced during the course of 1954 and the country became independent on 1 January 1956, the SDF forming the basis of its armed forces. (IMPERIAL SUNSET, James Lunt, Macdonald, 1981; THE FIGHTING SUDANESE, H. C. Jackson, Macmillan, 1954).

Physical description

badge In black, the silhouette of a man riding a camel on a khaki ground, with a black border and "SDF" in black in a black outline box below the camel.

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