Tankies from uniform?

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Ramiles, Dec 29, 2015.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Sorry to be a bit terrifically vague but would anyone happen to know if they can glean much from this pic?

    I'm afraid it's a bit small and this is about the best detail I can get of it. There's nothing on the back so this is all I know.

    The chap on the left is my granddad and I suspect it was taken relatively early c1940 or before in his tank career.

    I've even no idea why they are "dressed-up" or what's with the hobnail boots??!

    All the best,

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    They're wearing Service Dress which in general was exchanged for battledress during the earlier part of 1940...I'd hestitate to identify the unit from the collar dogs but a number have good conduct stripes so they're not newly enlisted. It has a bit of a pre-war feel to it.

    Hobnail numbers were reduced later in the war but these have a bit of an unusual pattern. According to 1940 literature that I've seen, MT drivers and armour crews were often permitted to omit hobs.
    Ramiles likes this.
  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Rich,

    I can't get a better scan of the collar dogs, but that's plenty to go on there :)


    It occurred to me that this might help though (a tiny bit) ;) he went from 1928 to 1946 so it's a long spell, he looks young enough here though for this to have been some time pre 1940, so pre-war would, I expect, fit. :salut:
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    The haircuts have a mid- to late- 1930s look...The collar Dogs could be 24th Lancers but not Sherwood Rangers nor 9th Lancers.

    24th Lancers weren't formed until 1940 (from units including 9th Lancers)...9th Lancers didn't join the BEF until May 1940 - if they still had Service Dress in the UK, this picture could date from just after his joining 24th Lancers
    Ramiles likes this.
  5. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY



    I've had a bit of a "to and fro" think as to whether the troopers and NCO's in the 24th ever had collar badges. The officers I think were the only ones with these?!

    These are those I have - I have a little silver fear naught collar badge to go with the fear naught cap badge and I wonder if that might be what's depicted here?

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  6. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Your grandad looks as though he might be sporting an RTC/RTR tank badge on his right arm. The RTC reference on the back ties in with the pre-war look of the photo - they became the RTR when the Royal Armoured Corps was formed.
    Ramiles likes this.
  7. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Many thanks Idler,



    *These badges and cuff-links might "go" with the pic. , (They seem to say RTC, but it's a hard script to read so the cuff-links might say RAC by some weird quirk of the script and stand for for Royal Armoured Corps - unless are RAC actually stands for the Royal automobile association or the Royal Agricultural college ;) ) in terms of the location seen there (pic. in post#1 above) I suspect that there is a fair to good chance that this is a photo shot somewhere inside of Bovington camp, perhaps in the 30's based on the evidence so far. 40's seems to late to me as he looked older then. I've tried to tie it down to some specific buildings and to what look like the antenna / radio towers / flag poles even in the background.

    I have wondered if they were celebrating some tank attestment achievement of the chap at the back second from the right. It looks a bit like the dress up for the navy tradition of celebrating someone first crossing the equator so I thought it might perhaps be a celebration for someone passing a particular tank course. (Nb. not sure if they went in for this?)

    Nevertheless it could be anything, from amateur dramatics to a stag do perhaps. From the way the chap on the left at the front is "dressed" I'm guessing it is summer or early autumn though, unless he's from Newcastle (in which case it could even be mid-winter I guess ;) )

    BTW... I was reading something a while back about the tanks on the badges going their "separate ways" i.e. one going right and the other left and about not looking like the tanks are "retreating" over the ear when they are worn on the cap.

    Cap Badge/Motto - The Royal Tank Regiment Association

    Initially "The tank faced in the same direction as on the Tank Corps badge. In late 1924 officers started to wear the beret (when not on parade with troops) and to their general horror it was found that the tank, now in silver, appeared to be retreating over the left ear. As officers bought their own badges the matter was soon put right for them by reversing the direction of the tank. It took a great deal of argument by the Colonel Commandant to get the other ranks badge changed by the time of the general introduction of the beret in May 1925. "

    *Ps. Re. the cuff-link design I had a bit of progress matching this nicely to a picture, when I googled 'R.T.C. Royal tank corps buttons' instead. I found a match to this particular design in several examples in google images there.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  8. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The smaller badge is a collar dog. These were issued in matched pairs so the tanks on both sides faced forwards. The same was done with formation flashes.
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Thanks Idler,

    If I have the other collar dog, it's evasive as I've yet to dig it out. Makes sense though, I've seen the matched pair's elsewhere online. They seem to be surprisingly (?) inexpensive (after all these years) so I've been tempted to just buy the missing one, but somehow that doesn't feel quite right and anyhow if I do the missing one will turn up and then I'll have 3, the matched pair and an odd one to look at :( :D

    Re. the cuff-link design I had a bit of progress matching this nicely to a picture, when I googled R.T.C. Royal tank corps buttons instead. I found a match to this particular design in several examples in google images there.

    All the best,

  10. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Just an aside, re. the cuff links:


    I suspected that these were just a standard part of the regular RTC kit, but having looked online I've not found anything like them (yet!). Just the buttons bearing the same basic design etc.

    I assume that these were standard (i.e. issued?) though? Or does anyone happen to know if they were irregular / i.e. non standard kit or something such as a souvenir set of cuff-links (not part of any RTC uniform) he kept as a memento of his RTC days?

    Just (slightly!) intrigued, is all!

    All the best,

    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  11. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Sorry to bump this but does anyone (who was there, or knows RTC re-en-actors etc) happen to know if these RTC cuff links were a part of some standardised RTC kit? Or are something my gd. might have had "knocked up" somewhere ;) (I don't mind either way if they are "standard" or "unique") :)

    The only versions of these that I can currently "find on-line" are my own :)
    RTC cufflinks - Google Search

    Interestingly re. the 24th Lancer badge I have...



    A good while ago I found out rather than being a "sweetheart" broach as I thought, it was an officers badge, however I have since found this letter from my grandfather to my nan...

    Where he mentions this, but goes on to ask her is she wants one as a birthday gift...

    "…up on Saturday.
    The weather here is nice and fair after the storm on Saturday. The water still stands about in the lanes so you see it did rain.
    I have tried hard to get some cosmetics in time for your birthday (
    4th June RM) but can’t get them. I had an idea of a 24th Lancers badge with enamel colouring; it’s a new thing the officers are wearing. Made into a clip for your dress should look alright, or is it not nice, you tell me my sweet.
    Cheerio darling all my love is yours, let me know, of course you do that, how Rob is. From your loving husband Ben.


    So if anyone asks "if the 24th Lancers wags had "sweetheart broaches" " - I guess at least one did - albeit a bit unorthodox perhaps?! :P

    All the best,

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017
  12. norton 407545

    norton 407545 Well-Known Member

    My nan has vaguely agreed that the photo of my grandad on his wedding day in a Number 1 uniform was probably really his old No1 uniform from the 17/21St lancers.
    As ive seen it debated and slightly argued about that war raised Regiments such as 24th Lancers were never issued with a Number 1 uniform just battle dress.
    And looking at old photographs (although a bit distance) it would back up that he was wearing his old 17/21st uniform in the photo because they are almost identical. He was also wearing collar dogs which was said to be unusual and guys on the British badge forum say it's so far the only known photograph of any 24th lancers OR wearing collar dogs and the fully wreathed arm badge. I think the wearing of the wreathed arm badge is what makes the photo so rare.
    As I don't think anyone has found another photo of anyone wearing the arm badge "OR"or officer.
    But given that it was his wedding day he may have pulled in a few favours. Probably didn't hurt that the CO was an old 17/21St lancers either
  13. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    According to my Gd's war records he was married in 1936 - to my nan - who was a "spinster" so it says:


    1. an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage

    She was about 5 years younger than him and was "23" - but perhaps 23 was beyond the "usual age for marriage" in South Wales in those days ;)

    He was a Baptist, of which I was not aware, and I don't remember if I mentioned this but since his father had died in 1916 on the Somme he'd been "adopted" and raised by some cousins whose surname was Norton. So it is a very small world :)

    When he first joined up his profession was as a miner, and he'd worked in the south Wales mines from about the age of 13.

    Later on though it says that his profession was, just prior to the second world war, as an "automobile demonstrator" as I think officially when the war broke up he was actually in the reserves (he'd originally joined up in October 1928) mobalised on 1st September 1939 and on 14th September 1939 he was "posted to the 9th Lancers" however prior to that he'd been in the 3rd RTC, as well as the 4th RTC. In various depots there, though I am not 100% sure where. At one point it says he was in the "Wessex area" around 1933.

    He did write about his time in the service in the late 20's and 30's - but I haven't posted much from this as it's all prior to WW2, though there are some interesting stories there. Some of them are about how incredibly basic things were at Bovington at first.

    All the best,

  14. norton 407545

    norton 407545 Well-Known Member

    He was a Baptist, of which I was not aware, and I don't remember if I mentioned this but since his father had died in 1916 on the Somme he'd been "adopted" and raised by some cousins whose surname was Norton. So it is a very small world :)

    Yes I do remember you saying something a while ago about nortons in your family. I really don't know to much about the norton side of my family my nan never stayed in touch with my grandads family. I know there are still some in Norwich where my grandad was born. But where else I do not know but maybe Wales
    I did find out through records searching my great grandfather (on my dad's side) volunteered for the army in August 1914 but after a few months training he was medically discharged. Something about his feet? I couldn't read the handwriting. If I can find it again maybe I can send it to you to see what u make of it.

    Cheers Shaun
  15. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Gd. and his family was originally from Bridport in Dorset (lots of Symeses around Symondsbury)


    The Norton side of the family brought a pub (in which he was raised) in South Wales, I'm not 100% sure though what was their connection with there.

    His mother's side though was of French descent (so I believe) - and the Norton name came about because his dad's cousin married into Nortons, so relatives through in-laws I guess.

    A while ago I was in contact with the 9th Lancers museum (Derby etc.): http://www.9th12thlancersmuseum.org/

    As well as Bovington and they both have a few records of other Symes's who served in the first WW1 that I think was/were relatives of gd. Ben's so I think that's what might have sent him in to the tank corps or later prompted what led him to a 9th L posting perhaps, i.e. there being a lingering family connection there, and his being asked what he wanted to do and having some choice in that in effect.

    Also his "job" in the south Wales mines involved maintaining the machinery and "engines" etc. so that too may have been what "led him" to the tanks.

    From "memory" I think that his father was shot by a sniper, or something to that effect, on the 15th July 1916:

    Which again must have had an effect, particularly as since with the 9th Lancers in 1940 he was taken very close to the Somme, with the 2nd BEF:

    As well as passing back that way once again with the SRY in August 1944, when he got to go back.

    All the best,

  16. norton 407545

    norton 407545 Well-Known Member

    What is the difference in the two cap badges in the above photograph they both are Royal Armoured Corps but one is RAC with a wreath the other is the gloved fist. As the 24L were part of the RAC would either of these ever have been worn by any 24L?


  17. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    Not sure when it happened but the Gloved Fist replaced the RAC Wreath badge. Both badges were worn when at Training Regiments so the answer to your question is 'all 24L wore at least one of these, and possibly both when they first joined up, but not when with the 24L'.
  18. norton 407545

    norton 407545 Well-Known Member

    Ok thanks for that Steve
  19. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY


    I saw this here: http://gmic.co.uk/topic/43656-the-royal-armoured-corps-of-wwii/

    Not sure if "Leigh Kitchen" is on here? Tho. there does seem to be a member with that username.

    "Although The RAC formed in April 1939, a badge for the corps wasn't adopted until 1940.
    In February of that year a gilding metal badge was approved, a laurel wreath containing the monogram “RAC” & surmounted by the King’s Crown. Smaller versions of the badge were to be the collar badges, & the letters “RAC” the shoulder title, however wartime policy dictated that collar badges would not be provided during the war & that the shoulder titles would be of worsted embroidery. General Service buttons were to be worn, not a pattern specific to The RAC."


    "On 7/3/1942 new designs for RAC insignia were approved, having been under consideration since 1941. Officer’s cap badges were of silver or white metal, their Service Dress collar badges of bronzed metal, Other Ranks cap & collar badges were of white metal.
    The cap badge consisted of a clenched mailed gauntlet bearing a billet inscribed “RAC”, within two concentric circles broken & barbed at the top & surmounted by the King’s Crown.
    The collar badges were smaller versions of this design, & the button now bore the clenched mailed gauntlet with it’s “RAC” inscription.
    As with the first pattern insignia, collar badges were not issued during the war, neither were the new pattern of button.

    The Other Rank's white metal cap badge, & the post WWII Other Rank's white metal & officer's silver plated collar badge:"

    And this site has a good section on RTR history for example inc. stuff on the RTC there

    At the end of World War 1 with the status of the Tank Corps in the greatest doubt, three small tank detachments were despatched to Russia, to support the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. One British manned tank achieved the capture of Tsaritsin, later called Stalingrad, now known as Volgograd.
    After the war, the Tank Corps was trimmed down to a central depot and four battalions; the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions, Tank Corps.
    In 1923 it was officially named Royal (making it the Royal Tank Corps) by Colonel-in-Chief King George V. It was at this time that the motto Fear Naught, the blackberet and the unit badge were adopted. The word Corps was replaced in 1939 with Regiment to give the unit its current name, the Royal Tank Regiment.
    In 1920, twelve Armoured Car Companies were set up as part of the Tank Corps, absorbing units from the Machine Gun Corps; eight were later converted into independent Light Tank Companies. All disbanded before the outbreak of the Second World War.
    In 1933 the 6th Battalion, Royal Tank Corps, was formed in Egypt by combining the personnel of two of these companies; in 1934, the 1st (Light) Battalion, Royal Tank Corps was formed in England with personnel from three of the existing battalions.
    With the preparations for war in the late 1930s a further two regular battalions were formed; the 7th in 1937 and the 8th in 1938. The 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th & 45th battalions were raised in 1938, being converted from Territorial Army infantry battalions; the 46th, 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th and 51st were likewise activated and converted in 1939. The twelve Yeomanry Armoured Car Companies of the RTR were all activated and transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps.

    And I use wiki (extensively!) for most of the rest (of my "special" knowledge!)

    All the best,

  20. norton 407545

    norton 407545 Well-Known Member

    Cheers Rm I had a seach as well and found a bit in Google books. I tried posting the link but it's about a whole paragraph long.
    Steve going on what you posted I guess my grandad would not have worn the RAC badge having done his basic training many years before the RAC was named? Or would he have worn it in the early days of training with the 24L?


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