Munitions Badges Time-line The history and genesis of the ‘Munitions badge’ is not a completed one. Tom Tulloch-Marshall in his excellent paper "On War Service" Badges, 1914-19 provides an excellent overview of the situation and the Official Issues. Published in issues 45 & 46 of "The Armourer" magazine, 2001. A link to the full text can be found under the download menu. Simply put the development can be put into the following time line. Men Workers: 26th 1914 December: “On War Service 1914” The Admiralty Badge. Was issued to essential war workers serving the admiralty. TOM TULLOCH-MARSHAL reports that some 500,000 were issued.
Early 1915; Known as “On War Service 1915” The War Office (Ministry of Munitions) issued this badge for men. The badges are found to have ‘1914’, ‘1915’ or ‘1916’ imprinted on them. These are the only recognized Official Badges. It is to be noted that the badges bore the Kings Crown. This would apply to all Admiralty and Women’s badges signifying Government service, the design of the men’s badge is similar the design of the cap badge of the Army Ordnance Corps.
Ministry of Munitions calculations estimated that a total of 100,000 OWS would be needed.
March 27th 1915 7,513 official badges had been issued.
April 3rd 1915 26,718 had been issued.
June 13th, new regulations were issued. Under the “Munitions (War Service Badges) Rules, 1915”. This was to address the large number of employers who were applying for badges. 31st July 1915 74,067 had been issued.
4th of August 1915: The Committee On War Service Badges (COWSB) announced that any firms must withdraw their own badges that were now deemed to be illegal. These included railways, official badges would be issued
31st July 1916 1,300,000 badges had been issued.
1st of May 1916 the existing Certified Occupations list was effectively abolished “debadging” commenced. This was to ensure that all men suitable for military service were conscripted and those suitable for war work
13th of June 1916 it was announced that men who had applied for badges before May 1st were not to be conscripted until their cases have been decided by the Ministry of Munitions.
19th of June 1916 it was decided that temporary badges and certificates should be issued to all new badging applications pending proper decisions.
Mid June 1916 approximately 200 inspectors were engaged in checking “badged firms” and as a result over 30,000 badges had been withdrawn.
July 1916. Revisions a complete survey of every single badged man was undertaken.
27th July 1916, there were 1,347,627
900,000 were of military age,
387,670 of those being single men
271,642 for the metal industry
Tom Tulloch-Marshall made a huge step forward in our knowledge he writes;
“For many years I had thought that the “1916” OWS badge was just a natural progression from the 1914 and 1915 badges, and it was not until I started digging around the Ministry of Munitions and War Office files that I found out that it was in fact an entirely different kettle of fish. All this time a fairly obvious clue as to it’s purpose had been staring me in the face, - the official issue 1914 and ’15 badges all have a button-hole type fastening at the rear, but the 1916 pattern is equipped with a pin-catch attachment. In fact the 1916 badge is not a badge at all, it’s a broach, - designed that way because women often did not have the facility of a buttonhole!”
4th of August 1915; the unofficial badges declared to be illegal.
July 1915 (3,108) badges issued to women working for armaments firms.
August 11th 1915 the Committee On War Service Badges reviewed the question of badging women and decided that they were absolutely against.
12th August 1915, The Ministry of Munitions agreed to the proposal to badge women.
May 1916, the women’s pattern triangular broach was introduced.
May 1916 over 270,000 women’s OWS badges were issued.
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