A red jerboa/rat ('desert rat'), facing left, outlined in white, on a black patch, later NWE pattern.
The original badge is said to have been designed by the wife of Sir Michael O'Moore Creagh, who commanded from December 1939.
The original design was a jerboa, in either red or, according to some reports, 'pink', on a white or buff circle on a red square, very similar to the 7th Armoured Brigade sign.
The second version may have been adopted as late as 1943 when the Division was in the Tripoli area. In this version the jerboa was a distinct red colour and embroidered directly onto battledress material. The earliest version of this design is said to have a short tail and its back was a simple curve. In later versions the tail became longer and the rump developed a distinct bump. This pattern was in use by the Division throughout their service in Sicily and Italy.
When the Division was recalled to the UK in mid-December 1943 an order was sent ahead to the UK to provide insignia. Somehow the order was misunderstood and the patch produced showed an animal more akin to a kangaroo than a jerboa and of a distinctly brownish shade outlined white on a black background. Given the shortages of all kinds of material the Division was refused permission to obtain replacements and, however grudgingly, had to accept this new badge.
The same sign, with a more orange rat, was adopted by 7th Armoured Brigade in BAOR post WW2. Also worn in Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Storm.
The Division was formed and trained in Egypt by Maj. Gen Sir Percy Hobart. It was the first to go into action in the Western Desert at the outbreak of war with Italy in June 1940. The division formed part of Wavell's Desert Force, later Army of the Nile and later still 8th Army. They became known as the "Desert Rats". The Division took part in the first offensive against Grazziani's forces in 1941 and participated in most major engagements, including Sidi Barrani, the Omars, Gazala, Alamein and the advance through Libya and Tunisia.
The Division returned to the UK in mid December 1943 to prepare for the invasion of Europe on D Day, 6 June 1944. It fought as part of 21 Army Group from Normandy to Germany.
The Division formed the bulk of the British force which entered Berlin for the victory march at the end of the war. (Cole 1973, pp. 33 - 34)
Immediately post-war the division formed part of BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) in VII Corps District. In May 1958 the Division was converted to 5th Division with 7th Armoured and 12th Infantry Brigade Groups under command.