49th Infantry Division formation signs

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Smudge, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Smudge

    Smudge Member

    Hi guys

    I know the orignal design of the 49th's Polar Bear was facing left, and in the early days was painted facing that way normally within a black circle (?). Thats what my ref photos appear to show even this carrier from Normandy.

    I have been told though that later in the war in NWE it was common for them to be seen face right within a large black rectangle? I have no references for this.

    Can anyone help clear this up?

    I'm surmising that a soldier with a stencil and a sign to paint wouldn't be that mindful of guidance etc?


  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just had a look in Delaforce's book on Polar Bears, any pics that have vehicles with identifiable signs are the black circle with white border as you show, even photo dated as May '45.
    Can't see any on black rectangle.

    Black rectangle with polar bear was for uniforms only I'd suggest.

    (Bit like 5th Div, uniforms had Y on khaki square background , vehicles Y on black circle. Then post-war uniforms had Y on black circle too but I digress.)
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  4. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Here's a link to the BBC's People's War WW2 site. It's an article possibly by Graeme of this Forum. It has a photo of a guy called Hugh Wright, with the Polar Bear Insignia clearly shown on his shoulder and it's square. Looks like square on the uniform and a circle on vehicles.

    4jonboy likes this.
  5. Smudge

    Smudge Member

    Cheers guys

    I also found this
    © IWM (H 21922) The battalion sports team of 1-5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, in the back of a lorry at Pennybont in Wales, 31 July 1942. (thats the IWM spiel not sure what they mean by 1/5 West Yorks Regt would that be PWO although the AoS suggests the lorry belongs to 4 Lincolns?)

    Seems to back up the circular theory; although I think the guys on the restored vehicle circuit missed that I've seen a couple with the rectangular background ...though on saying that Warpaint 3 does say the circular design was replaced with black rectangle when it was given the 'heads up' attitude...not seeing that in these photos either?

  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Not sure this helps much, here is an explanation of the history of the badge from Cole's 'Formation Badges'.

    Bit blurred, sorry.

  7. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Found the above reference to the rectangle in the book "The British Army in Germany: An Organizational History 1947-2004"

    "49th (East) Infantry Brigade adopted the old sign of the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division: a white polar bear on an ice floe, all on a black rectangle"
  8. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

  9. Smudge

    Smudge Member

    Cheers guys

    I'm leaning towards rectangular on uniforms, with the bear always facing forward which seems the norm. I found evidence that Canadians of Z Force in Iceland also wore the early polar bear badge.

    On vehicles early war in a black circle with white border facing left (early) or on a black rectangle facing left (late). I'm basing this on two reference books and the photos we have. Would have liked to see the rectangular badge in a preiod photo, but thanks for the help.

    For those who wondered I'm building a Bedford QLD in 1/35 scale, probably belonging to 6 or 7 DWR...maybe The Hallamshires.

  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Perhaps this is adding already known information, but came across this whilst looking for something else:


    49th initially wore its WW1 sign, the white rose of Yorkshire. In 1940 it was sent to Norway and then to Iceland where it adopted the polar bear. At first the bear had a bowed head but this was later raised to make it more aggressive.

    From : http://www.petergh.f2s.com/flashes.html#armies

  11. Graeme W

    Graeme W New Member

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