badge, headdress, British, Royal Army Ordnance Corps
An anodised aluminium gold and silver headdress badge to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, being the Garter bearing its motto, a Queen's crown overlaid on the top portion of the Garter. In the voided centre of the Garter the shield of the arms of the Ordnance Board (three old field cannon in pale, in chief three cannon balls). Below the Garter, a three-part scroll bearing SUA / TONANTI / TELA (various translations: "To the Warrior His Arms", "To the Thunderer His Arms"). The shield in silver, remainder in gold. A slider on the reverse which is stamped with the name of the manufacturer.
Badge of pattern worn 1953 to 1993.
The shield at the centre of the badge and the motto scroll used after 1947 both derive from the Arms granted to the Board of Ordnance in 1806, confirmed in 1823. The Army Ordnance Corps, re-designated as such in 1896, wore the shield with a name-scroll below in the forage cap from 1896 to the end of the First World War.
Following the formation of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1918, a new badge was designed with a (King's) crown surmounting the Garter and a scroll carrying the name of the Corps. This was adopted for the forage cap in around 1920. After March 1947 the scroll was changed to the Corps motto, SUA TONANTI TELA.
The motto SUA TONANTI TELA is one of those that defies precise translation. There is an esoteric argument that suggests it derives from a line from Manilius (a 1st Century Roman poet), translatable as "Science has wrested from thundering Jove his weapons". Simplified, and in the context of the Corps' function, it is suggested this could become "To the Army Its Needs". However, past members of the Corps are said to be more likely to be sympathetic to either "To the Thunderer His Arms", "To the Warrior His Arms".
In November 1949 there was a more significant re-design of the badge. The War Office Dress Committee had decided that a unit would only be allowed one badge for all types of headdress and as the 1947 pattern was considered too large to wear on the beret, and not ornate enough for wear with No1 Dress, the badge was re-designed. The central shield was made larger and in silver / white metal, reflecting the metals used in earlier helmet plates. The crown was also made larger and was now placed lower, overlaying the top portion of the Garter. The badge overall was made narrower by restricting the width of the motto scroll to the width of the Garter. The crown changed to a Queen's crown after October 1953.
The Ordnance shield survived the RAOC's 1993 amalgamation into the Royal Logistics Corps, becoming the central motif of the RLC headdress badge.
The RAOC could trace its ancestry back at least to the reign of Henry V but the immediate predecessors were formed in the nineteenth century. One strand was an all-officer body and the other formed of other ranks, both of which operated under a succession of names. In 1896 the former became the Army Ordnance Department and the latter the Army Ordnance Corps. These branches amalgamated in 1918 and were granted the Royal prefix, becoming the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
The RAOC was responsible for the supply, storage and repair of most "Ordnance stores", a definition that changed over time, but included clothing, weapons and vehicles of all kinds. Its role in the repair of vehicles passed in 1942 to the newly formed Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, formed in large part from the RAOC Armourer, Armament and Engineering Branches of the Corps' workshops organisation. In 1965 the RAOC took on most of the supply functions of the RASC (eg: rations, petrol, oil and lubricants, etc).
In April 1993, the RAOC amalgamated with the Royal Corps of Transport, Army Catering Corps, Royal Pioneer Corps and the Postal and Courier Services of the Royal Engineers to form the Royal Logistics Corps.