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Various countries used the skull and bones badge way back, but I think the Prussians were the first to really 'popularise' it.............i.e. others (including the English) copied it from the Ruesch and Belling outfits, with whom they had come into contact during The Seven Years War.

It makes sense, I somehow can't see that a "national Swedish" unit would go skull and bones - there has to have been influences, and I'm willing to bet that those Swedish hussars were, well, just Swedish by name (the unit from the Thirty-years War was from the Baltic region if I recall correctly). The Ruesch regiment (5th hussars) wore skulls and bones in the 1740s, and the Belling regiment were about contemporary with both the 17th (or, actually, 18th) Light Dragoons and the Swedish hussars, give or take a year or so. Robin, what's your take on the commemoration of Col Hale's friend Gen Wolfe KIA thus a skull and bones badge for Hale's newly raised regiment? Is that just a good story or the real reason?

/Jonas

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Robin, what's your take on the commemoration of Col Hale's friend Gen Wolfe KIA thus a skull and bones badge for Hale's newly raised regiment? Is that just a good story or the real reason?

As many British units and soldiers had served in Germany during The Seven Years War (1756 - 1763), it is probable that they saw the Prussian totenkopf emblem of Ruesch and Belling and revelled in its associations of piracy and plunder - perfect values for a light cavalry unit. Indeed, down to the present time, the 17th/21st and QRL regiments are still commonly referred to by their own men as 'The Tots'. The Wolfe/Hale connection is a good story, but I think the Prussian connection is a more plausible one.

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Edited by Robin Lumsden

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It seems like the skull and bones tradition started with the countries new to the hussar tradition, the Hungarians seemed not to need it - they already had a reputation! And to turn back to the original topic, one can understand that the skull and bones of the 17th Light Dragoons has survived two amalgamations, I wouldn't be surprised if the 21st Lancers as well as the 16th/5th Lancers respectively agreed unanimously on the motto as a suitable adornment in their caps. Robin, thank you for showing your "side-collection"!

/Jonas

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Having served in the 17/21L for a number of years I should add my two cents worth. The arm badges were worn directly on the stripes by Cpls, Sgts and S/Sgts. There are several variations in use changing here and there over the years. In general, the more ugly and grotesque the badge, the older it is. You must realise that there are serving members today whose ancestors (umpty Great- Grandfathers) who charged with the 17th at Balaklava, there were several in the Regt when I served '59 - '71. Badges, collar dogs and buttons have been handed down in the family from father to son to son etc. Those serving today, on promotion, would wear the handed down badge and gain a great deal of prestige or in modern terms "street cred". On amalgamation the 16/5L were infuriated that they had to discard their badge and wear the 17/21L badge, which, by the way, is referred to as "The Motto" and NEVER, EVER the "Badge".

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In general, the more ugly and grotesque the badge, the older it is.

Here's a really ugly little (Victorian?) chap.............

Thanks very much for that very informative reply, Dave! :cheers:

I had no idea that they 'handed these badges down the family', in some cases.

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On amalgamation the 16/5L were infuriated that they had to discard their badge and wear the 17/21L badge, which, by the way, is referred to as "The Motto" and NEVER, EVER the "Badge".

Hello Dave!

What was the 17th/21st share of the badge designs contra 16th/5th upon amalgamation? Was there anything to perpetuate the 21st at all in the way of badges after the amalgamations, or was it essentially 17th patterns all the way through 17th/21st to QRL?

/Jonas

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The Motto today (remember it's "Motto" not "Badge"!) is backed by crossed lances taken from the 16/5L. The top of the No 1 dress caps are now scarlet instead of blue, the 16/5L were known as "The Scarlet Lancers" and each of the sabre squadrons as well as being designated A, B, C, and D are sub-titled 17th, 21st, 16th and 5th. I don't have my Regimental Journal at hand so I'm not sure which is which.

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Here's an embroidered motto (with lances) from 1916............

I had a handmade Shantung silk tablecloth made for me in Hong Kong in 1960 that was almost identical. The 17/21L used this type of design on Regtl and Sqn HQ signs and on stationary, Xmas cards etc. On amalgamation the lances were added to the motto on the beret and also a scarlet cloth background taken from the 16/5L.

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Hello Dave!

I fully agree, we did the same in my regiment, somehow beret badges tends to crawl towards the ear at the same rate as the regulations gets older... :D On the other hand, I've on occasion seen beret badges (including mottoes!) worn bang in the middle of the forehead too.

/Jonas

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On amalgamation the lances were added to the motto on the beret and also a scarlet cloth background taken from the 16/5L.

Thanks, Dave. I wondered where the red backing came from on some of these.

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The motto always assumed "the cyclops position" whenever we donned headsets.

Makes sense, I never experienced it myself though, since I never served on armoured vehicles (and personal headsets for troopers on foot didn't exist in the Swedish army back in my time).

/Jonas

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Robin

Have enjoyed this thread and thought I would add a couple of images from the Garrison Church at Aldershot.

Firstly a very realistic skull from the Victorian era.

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And secondly the much flatter skull from the 2nd World War era. You can clearly see the differences here although whether it was official design or artistic licence of the period's concerned I don't know.

Simon

post-1389-074064200 1291967892_thumb.jpg

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Simon - so nice to see you back after a gap . For myself, I don't think there is a standard laid down - mostly what pleased the Col. at the time. However, I'm sure that someone will now produce the order.....

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