A Brief History of the Morale Patch
History of the The Morale Patch or TRF as us Brits call them.
The modern Morale Patch came of age after the Sidra incident on the 19th August 1981 when two Libyan Su-22 Fitter attack aircraft fired upon and were subsequently shot down by two American F-14 Tomcats off the Libyan coast.
Ever since that incident morale patches appeared on uniforms of fighter pilots including the infamous "Anytime Ghaddafi Baby" F-14 patch.
The British Army created “Battle Patches”, distinctive cloth insignia sewn on uniform sleeves to aid in identifying between friendly and enemy forces during the first world war.
The 81st Division Wildcats of the US Army, suggested to Army Officials that a patch should be introduced as a acknowledgment of the division. The insignia was approved, in order to promote pride for the wearers unit or division. Soon after, General Pershing ordered that all divisions create and wear a patch, unique to their division. The famous Big Red 1 badge, was created on October 31st, 1918, for the US Army's 1st Infantry Division. It is the longest surviving division insignia.
The Screaming Eagle Badge of the 101st Airborne was created in after the war, in 1921. The eagle head was a representation of the Civil War mascot "Old Abe,” of the Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.
The American Army introduced subdued patches and insignia during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam war also introduced non-sanctioned patches on uniforms, these hand made patches signified battles or unofficial units. The patches often displayed skulls and other images forbidden by the military, and were only shown to other members of the unit.
All British soldiers now wear Tactical Recognition Flashes (TRF) on the left sleeve of their uniform to identify the Corps or Regiment that they belong to, a brigade or divisional patch is worn on the right sleeve.
Today, almost every military and emergency service unit in the world wears a patch of some description. Some of these patches can be seen donned on the sleeves of airsofter’s uniforms or load outs to identify teams or sometimes just for the hell of it.