101st Shoulder Patches

There are so many myths and variations of the airborne patches, I thought it only fair that they get there own page, lets start with the 101st Infantry Division Patch. The first and most important thing to know is that there are over a dozen different manufactures of wartime time patches. These were made in the US and in the UK, most have minor differences, other have some big differences. All, however are correct in that you would simply be issued a patch, or you could purchase spare patches from the PX. The type 8 was made under instruction of one officer and he had enough made for every officer at that time to purchase some. Eventually the left overs went down the ranks to the other troopers. Richard Winters wore this type of patch, it is very distinctive.

Don't forget you'll need more than just one of these, one on your M42 Jacket, one on your shirt and if you plan on getting an A-Class to wear in the evenings... or getting married in like I did, then you'll need another for that too! The don't all have to be the same type, you can mix and match, or if you want them all to be the same, that's fine too!

To make things easy. I will use the same letters that the best manufacturer of reproduction patches uses to identify each patch. That being GreenArmyProducts

A (220) - British made 

This patch is made of cotton thread, embroidered on black wool felt. Black linen is used on the back. 

C (222)

This patch is made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas.

B (221) 

Made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas.

D (223)  

Made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas.

E (224) 

This patch is made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas.

F (225)   

Made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas. See notes on 'White Tongue'

G (226) 

This patch is made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas.

I (226) 

This patch is made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas.

H (227)   

Made of cotton thread, embroidered on cotten canvas. See notes on 'White Tongue'

J (227) - aka type 8   

Made of cotton thread, embroidered on black velvet.

White Tongues

Firstly and most importantly, "NO, they are not Pathfinder patches!", they were not specially made for Pathfinders, they do not make you a Pathfinder, they are not a special Pathfinder patch and secondly "NO, they are not Pathfinder patches!" 

I hope that cleared that up a little. With that being said, some Pathfinders I'm sure would have been given a white tongued patch, also so was plenty of non-Pathfinders. This was simply an error on the part of one British manufacturer who ran out of red cotton and used white instead. Yes, it's a simple as that. This odd variant was created by a simply problems of stock control, later on pink tongued versions would also appear, these were also NOT a special patch for any other elite unit. They were not 101st Intelligence patches, they were also not only issued to the guys who handed out the mail. I'm hoping I'm making all this pretty clear :) It's one of those nonsense things that dealers who have lots of one item they can't sell make up to make this weird variant, suddenly seem interesting, exciting and suddenly worth more money! This happens a lot when dealing in militaria, be-wary of the sellers who use phrases like "super rare prototype model" as that usually means, something that isn't right, but looks like something wartime that we all recognise. Any way, we're drifting off topic. If you re-enact 101st, or want to re-enact 101st then any of the patches above are great. If you are join us, then try and find something that nobody else has a version of, two many of the same unusual less commonly seem patches looks odd too. Or play it safe and order anything that looks something like 'C' or 'I', Green Army Products clearly isn't the only place to get 101st patches, but I kid you not when I tell you they are the best. I am weirdly obsessed with the patches I have got from them.

Garrison Cap Patches

Now this only a recent decision in our unit to all wear the early and lets face it nice and more popular (both then and now) blue parachute patch. Not the combined Parachute and glider patch that no paratrooper was happy about wearing, after all the gliders were loving name 'death crates', Parachutist were known to draw cartoons of crashed gliders with the occupants all dead on the ground. So when this combine patch was requested to be worn by all members of the 101st, it was first ignored by most paratroopers, it wasn't until August 1944 that is was ordered to be worn instead of the old one. Even then some troopers still managed to stay under the radar and didn't change. Others took a dim view of the patch and would wear it not level, so it looked like the glider was plummeting straight towards the ground... such was the view of these planes!

Even the early blue Parachute Patch came in a series of variants, not including the red ones for field artillery. It came in a nice felt type, type A in both light blue and type B which came in the normal light blue and an odd looking dark blue. Although this looks very wrong, it was both made and worn. However if you opt for this dark blue patch, expect to be answering questions about its colour for ever more. I can almost guarantee that nobody will believe you it was worn war time, they are sure to tell you its wrong and probably that it never existed! So be warned

Left - Felt version
Bottom Left - Type A
Below - Type B dark and light, note the shape in the parachute has slightly changed

In case you're very new to militaria, each garrison cap only gets one of these patches. I am going to cause lots of trouble here, but there is no correct side to put the patch. I know... shock horror, what did this heathen just say! What rubbish, I know your thinking. You probably think that every re-enactor I have ever seen always wears it on the left side (the side without the fold), they all probably told you that's where the patch goes and the biggest fable, 'only officers wore a patch on the right side' half of the enlisted soldiers who put a patch on a cap did indeed put it on the left hand side of the cap... its just a shame that the other half put it on the right! Have a look at period photographs, in fact I will include some as I can only imagine the hate mail I will get for saying things like this. In fact... once my new patch arrives, I'm putting it on the right side of my enlisted-mans cap... just to spite all you non-believers!

Ignoring the officers who almost always wear it on the right side of the cap. The middle photo is PFC and its the early patch on the right.

Cpl McGahan - Right side of the cap

Pfc Almeida - Right side of the cap

Pfc Armentrout actually wears it on the left side! The photo is reversed, not the fold is on the opposite side, verifying that this isn't just a weird cap is that his jump wings are also on the wrong side of the coat. So when viewing wartime pics for things like this, make sure the photograph isn't reversed :)

Trooper Morass - patch on the right side again.

Sgt Parsons Sr - also wears the patch on the right side of the cap. A variety of ranks and a mixture of different units in the 502nd. These are not unique to the 502nd, or the 101st. These can be found right across all units.

Pathfinder Patch

Firstly 'NO IT DOESN'T HAVE A WHITE TONGUE!' There is one other airborne patch that I need to mention and that is the Pathfinder Patch. However, this was not on any combat jacket, so don't go getting all excited before you know what it is. This patch was awarded to those who jumped into the Normandy Campaign as a member of a Pathfinder team. Some Troopers were assigned to these at the last moment and although not trained in any sort of Radar signalling, they were there as more of a support/security role, they still were awarded and eligible to wear the patch.

Again, our friend at GreenArmyProducts makes three versions of these as like all the other Airborne patches, there were even variations of even the rarest patches!

These were worn on the lower left arm, just above the overseas service stripes. It was not just sewn on like the big rectangular patch shown right, it was trimmed around the design, how close depended on the individual.

If your going for a fully decked out A-Class then this a nice additional patch that you can wear as a Pathfinder.

Rank Patches

Rank patches are worn on the combat M42 jackets and the A-Class. When you first join the unit you will most likely be a regular straight out of basic training private. Which does have some advantages as you won't have to do any sewing of rank chevrons, which is a pain as it can take a couple of attempts to get them properly level and looking good! Depending on your attitude, turn out to events, dedication to appearance and the group you can be promoted. 

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