How to Identify WWII Army Insignia

Written by liz frazier
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How to Identify WWII Army Insignia
World War II Army uniforms had special insignia that signified a soldier's rank, branch and unit. (48 stars image by w14a from Fotolia.com)

The U.S. Army uses different insignia, mostly to represent a soldier's rank, branch or unit. During World War II, the Army had insignia that were distinctive to that period. If you have a WWII Army insignia device and you want to know what it means, the American Military Patches website by Dr. Howard Lanham is accurate and easy to navigate. The references in this article will take you to the pages that are relevant to each step.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Examine the insignia thoroughly. Note the distinctive characteristics of the insignia. Look for symbols like lightning bolts, propeller blades, wings, rifles, swords, bombs or cannon. These symbols will give you an idea of what job the wearer performed. Little details like the size and the colour of the insignia will also tell you about the type of insignia you have.

  2. 2

    Determine whether your insignia is an enlisted-rank insignia. You can identify an enlisted insignia because it has at least one chevron, which looks like an upside down "V." Some of the more senior enlisted-rank insignias also have "rockers" which are semicircles attached to the bottom of the chevron. If you think the insignia is an enlisted-rank insignia, then click on Reference 1 to see pictures of all enlisted Army insignia from WWII. Compare your insignia to the pictures provided.

  3. 3

    Determine whether your insignia is a general-officer-rank insignia. General-officer insignia are easy to identify because they consist of one to five silver stars. If you think the insignia is an general-officer-rank insignia, then click on Reference 2 to see pictures of all officer Army insignia from WWII. Compare your insignia to the pictures provided.

  4. 4

    Determine whether your insignia is a company, field or warrant officer rank insignia. Warrant officer insignia are oval. Company-grade officer insignia are made up of one or two rectangular bars. Field-grade officer insignia consist of either a leaf or an eagle. If you think the insignia is a company, field or warrant officer rank insignia, then click on Reference 3 to see these Army insignia from WWII. Compare your insignia to the pictures provided.

  5. 5

    Determine whether your insignia is a branch-of-service insignia. Branch-of-service insignia can be identified by their size. Since they are meant to fit on a lapel, they will be only about an inch wide. Enlisted branch insignia are brass with no colour and sit on a one inch disk. Officer branch insignia have no disc and are painted in colour. If you think the insignia is a branch insignia, then click on Reference 4 to see pictures of these Army insignia from WWII. Compare your insignia to the pictures provided.

  6. 6

    Determine whether your insignia is a unit insignia. Unit patches are about three inches tall by two inches wide and made of cloth. This is the largest group of insignias, so you might have to take some time to search through the patches on these page. It would be best to start with the division patches because large numbers of soldiers were assigned to divisions. If the patch relates to the Army Air Corps, there special links to those patches as well. If you think the insignia is a unit insignia, then click on Reference 5 to see pictures of these insignia from WWII. Compare your insignia to the pictures provided.

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