Military uniforms and their insignia are remarkable in the comprehensive and precise ways they communicate information about their wearer. To a knowledgeable observer, variations in color, style, ornamentation, symbols and so can tell a precise story about a person's status, assignment, achievements and even career history. Examined in context, uniforms and their systems of insignia in turn can reveal much about an armed service's history, organizational structure and culture.
This site is intended to present some of these systems, organized in illustrated tables and charts, to hopefully shed some light on how and why they evolved the way they did. The information comes from cited publications and documents, using primary sources as much as possible. The focus is on the United States armed forces and to a lesser extent those of the United Kingdom, which have been so influential on the US and worldwide.
The goal of the site is to provide clear and accurate information that may be of value to students of military history, to those who have questions about old photographs and the like, and hopefully to a generally interested reader. It is beyond the scope of the site, and beyond the author's expertise, to delve into the innumerable variations and unofficial adaptations that may have been used in actual service, or to present items in the minute detail required by serious collectors.
The decision was made to use original illustrations of insignia for the most part, rather than photographs of actual items or reproductions from other sources. It is understood that this may give a somewhat idealized view, omitting some details and variations. It is hoped, however, that this choice will give the pages a more cohesive and unified appearance and better allow systems of insignia to be viewed as a whole.
Interested readers are asked to check back as pages are added. Comments and corrections are welcome.
The pages are organized in the following sections:
Uniforms and Insignia:
The main focus of the site is in the illustrated pages of this section. Organized by country, then service, type, and time period.
Ranks and Organization:
Studying uniform insignia often benefits from an understanding of a service's organizational structure. These pages will deal with services' organization and rank systems, and serve as a something of a catch-all for non-uniform related material.
Information about the site, acknowledgements, links and various other material will be found here.
To get in touch with the author, please submit comments on the contact page.
All text and images © Justin T. Broderick, 2013-2014 unless otherwise indicated.