Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Michael156

Special Force/Jedburgh Wings - (*** MODERATORS' CHOICE)

Recommended Posts

Gentlemen,

Would like to start a topic line on the history, awarding/attribution and authentication of Jedburgh/Special Force Wings of World War II. I have searched G.B., France, U.S., and WWII History GMIC forums and have yet to find any stream covering this topic. As an increasingly rare badge, with many individual reprints and fakes, I was hoping to generate some authoritative information on makers, true examples with pictures, and the best ways to confirm authenticity on the market.

Appreciate any and all genuine, professional interest.

M.

Edited by Michael156

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael

Firstly welcome to this excellent forum.

One of the major benefits of our shared hobby for me is the chance to constantly find new and undiscovered aspects of military history.

Having been actively collecting for nearly thirty years I have to admit to never having heard of or seen an example of the 'Jedburgh wing' and so thank you for bringing this subject to our attention.

Having had a chance to look through the net I found this site to be informative regarding the inception, wear and description of these wings.My link

Do you have any examples of this rare piece of insignia or indeed further photographs of it being worn?

Best regards Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael - also, welcome to GMIC. Simon, I'm so pleased you said first that you wern't certain about this wing - I was thinking was it another name for the 'upward' wings of the SAS ? Now that I have seen a picture from your link I can recall seeing it before, but it is certainly quite rare. Probably only Leigh would have known at once.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael156,

I would also like to welcome you to the GMIC. An interesting topic.

Simon,

Very interesting link. Raises all kinds of ideas for further research.

Regards,

Gordon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlemen,

Thank you. Very much appreciate the quantity and enthusiastic support on what I thought was a humble subject.

I have been interested in the OSS and SOE and their operations for about two decades now and have amassed a large collection of out of print books on the subjects. Although the inherent security considerations of these organizations has made collecting their militaria extremely challenging, the uniqueness of their insignia makes it all the more compelling.

This weekend I will try to unearth a couple of articles that I discovered about fifteen years ago that provided the most authoritative study of Jedburgh wings I have found to date. Apologize for not having these more readily available.

Attached though is a picture I found on line some time ago of Marine Major Peter Ortiz bearing the wings on his uniform while being decorated for his service in France. While the location of the wings on his sleeve certainly has a European style, it still astounds me considering the axis habits of the time. I hope this will initiate some additional posting of recent, individual pictures of genuine wings, or pictures from the era demonstrating their wear.

Thank you again, look forward to continuing this,

M.

Edited by Michael156

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael

An excellent photograph, thank you for posting. As your thread sparked my interest I have been trawling the net to find other references and the two or three images I have found show these wings being worn in a similar position. They are also shown worn on the combat uniforms of US airborne forces in the air prior to a jump! As you suggest in your post the wear of these wings on operations would surely have been foolhardy at best and downright fatal at worst.

To your knowledge have any confirmed orders been found regarding the wear on operations of the wings? Or are these images on the net training photos in allied areas or even staged I wonder?

Best regards Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The one I had (long gone now. I had it many years and didn't really know what it was, but was finally talked out of it by a young dealer) was all bullion including the letters, with a bullion ring around the red patch.

It struck me as being a post war fabrication for dress wear, but it had the same aging as the bottom one of four shown in the above link.

Regards,

Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I seem to remember it came with this and other airborne badges, these are obviously post war and not used, the wings were definitly ex-uniform.

Pete

No pictures I'm sorry to say, but will keep looking.

Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlemen,

The most authoritative study that I have found to date on Special Force wings has been a series of two articles published in the "Trading Post" in 198? The author was a Mr. Les Hughes...the very same author of the courteous link Simon provided earlier on his first post. I am still working on attempting to find this article on the web or post it ethically on this forum.

'After market' Special Force/Jedburgh wings are easily obtainable as reprints for enthusiasts, however the availability of qualified and genuine wings is extremely rare, and quite often argued. I have bought three sets in the past myself; two are obvious reproductions, but one set may have the potential to be genuine.

I believe, or rather hope, that this set of Jed Wings are at the very least dated from the 1940s. I have examined the patch with a UV light and found no visible nylon thread use (an apparent method of validating dated patches and insignia). But attached is a scan of the obverse and reverse of my example, if anyone has any expertise on the style and pattern of sewing and its possible origins I would be grateful.

Look forward to more postings and any research or authoritative input anyone could provide to this discussion.

M.

Edited by Michael156

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael

Many thanks for showing us these wings. This appears to be such a specialised area of collecting that real examples are virtually unobtainable or have never been handled by collectors. As already stated in my earlier post I have never been fortunate enough to see a set myself and so can only compare your wings to a set of genuine wartime Para wings I once owned, (still trying to find my old scans!)and the wings shown in the link. The backing material certainly looks similar to what I have had and the embroidery does appear consistent with those on the link.

Is there any indication that these have ever been sewn onto a uniform and, I know it sounds silly, but do they smell old? Normally a good indication of age!!!

Regards Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Simon,

Many thanks for the reply, continued interest and qualified questions.

No, the Special Force wings do not seem to have been ever sewn onto anything as far as I can see. I have examined them carefully but can not find any trace of previous work. But yes, they do have a "scent" to them. Aged, but neutral is the best way I can describe it. And I am indebted to you for that simple, but ingenious suggestion. Sometimes the easiest methods can elude you as you search for a tree through the forest.

Attached are two more photos of what I suspect are Free French Force wings from World War II. I acquired them from a gentlemen in France about five years ago and these do seem to have been sewn on before. Although these wings do not fall under the Jedburgh/SF Wing category, I have seen them worn on pictures of Free French Soldiers who served in the OSS (&SOE?), even worn in conjunction with the Jed Wings once. I just wanted to provide another example of comparable backing and sewing which I hope is dated to the era we're discussing.

I sincerely hope this string continues. Although I have been extremely busy as of late, I hope to have some free time in the future to do a great deal more research, uncover the articles I spoke of before, and set up a meeting with an OSS historian I know.

Best to all,

M.

Edited by Michael156

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlemen,

Another additional picture is below demonstrating a yet another way the SF Wings were worn on the right shoulder and also shows Free French and British wings on other members of the team. Found this picture on a random search through the web; have never seen it before...

M.

Edited by Michael156

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Michael

Thanks for another very interesting image showing these rare wings being worn. I have been searching the web myself regarding the subject of these wings and the lack of information available is surprising. I have not had any luck with written references either. Keep up the searching and perhaps we may find some valuble information from our members for the collector world as a whole.

Best regards Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to Simon and all for the enthusiasm and assistance on this forum,

Stumbled upon a trove of pictures on a web photo album "OSS Photos," although I could find no authorship or origin noted a few examples are attached below. It posted many pictures from what seems to be a collection possibly from someone that was on an actual Jedburgh Team. Included are what appear to be locations in England for training and operational support, some pictures in Norway, and a few others from the Pacific or Indian Oceans. The address is also below...

http://picasaweb.goo...rian/OSSPhotos#

I was surprised to see so many pictures demonstrating wear of the SF wings in training or rear areas. Even though this collection may be regional or section specific, I did not expect to see the wings so commonly worn. Also of note are examples of Soldiers wear both the SF wings and British jumps wings on their right sleeve, definitely the first time I have personally seen that.

The intent now is to do some focused academic research...Best to all,

M.

Edited by Michael156

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An interesting topic Michael and one that I am very keen on myself. Over the years I have been fortunate to know a number of those who served in the Jedburgh Teams, also some who served in the OSS Operational Groups. The Special Force Wing, as I am sure you know, was conceived at ME 65 Milton Hall, near Peterborough. There was an open competition to design a unifying emblem for the newly formed Jedburgh Teams, this was won by Captain Victor Gough of the Somerset Light Infantry. Gough became the leader of Team JACOB and after capture in France was murdered by the Germans. The Wing was worn "in the field" and the initials SF are for Special Force, singular exactly as you have mentioned. When asked by those who had no idea what this new emblem stood for the Jedburghs often stated, in jest of course, "Sans Femmes" or "Sexually Frustrated"! The Wing though originally soley for the Jedburghs soon travelled to other outfits, especially the OSS Operational Groups. Some of the images that you posted are of them and taken at Brockhall which was thier base in England. Others also used the insignia, the Poles of the Bardsea Group, those who served at Special Force Headquarters and members of Force 136 in Burma. In 1993 I helped to found a Museum at the original base of the 801st-492nd Bombardment Group, code named the Carpetbaggers, they were the "Air Arm" of the OSS. I have several displays there of both Jedburghs and OSS Operational Groups, the website is www.harringtonmuseum.org.uk In one of the past newsletters I wrote a short article about the SF Wing. The SF Wing has been widely copied-faked and apart from original examples I also collect these for reference and information. Fortunately I have several originals, with provenance, and know fairly well the good from the bad. I will post an example that belonged to a very good Jedburgh veteran friend who sadly is no longer with us. Apart from two Missions to France he also later served in Force 136. His SF Wings and one of his Parachute Wings are attached. This pattern of SF Wing is the true original, there are probably another three or four bona-fide variations. Hopefully others will add to your posting of this very interesting Insignia. regards, Clive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clive,

My deep appreciation for joining this stream and for your knowledge! I think I may have even read your work or browsed this site in the past. I have a couple of exceptional articles on the Wings by Les Hughes published some years ago but I have yet to find them.

I did know a little about CPT Gough and the background of the wings, but the 'Sans Femmes' history provides some great insight and typical military humor. Did not know some of the connectivity with the Poles and had not even heard of Force 136 yet...leaves some good research ahead.

I do very much enjoy the European history of the OSS and SOE, and have a friend who attends the OSS convention/reunion every year but sadly for the past few years my work schedule has precluded my hope to go.

Again, very much appreciate the insight and site reference. Would you please consider continuing to participate and possibly posting the others SF Wing examples you have for others to reference. I personally would also hope to continue discussion of the OSS/SOE in some way.

THANK YOU and take care, Michael.

Edited by Michael156

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pleased to contribute to your thread Michael. I will attach an image of Captain Victor Gough, designer of the Special Force Wing, and an image of his grave, not too clear though, in Germany. I will also attach an image of a SF Wing that belonged to another Jedburgh veteran friend of mine, he was an officer who led a mission to France, also in Burma with Force 136. The Wing is shown with his safe conduct pass for France and his 2nd and 3rd pattern Fighting Knives. Regards, Clive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlemen,

I was doing a little more research recently and stumbled upon a note on Les Hughes website on OSS insignia, it notes a book to be published soon:

Insignia and Uniforms of the Office of Strategic Services 1942-1945 by Troy Sacquety and Les Hughes

Knowing at least Troy, I have no doubt it will be of fine quality. It may be the most authoritative reference on the subject. Here's the website for your own interest...

http://www.insigne.org/sf_wing-I.htm

Best to all, look forward to any more discussion or examples anyone can contribute.

Michael.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×