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Wounded Stripe

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A pair of circa 1918 veteran C.E.F. frontline Lance Corporals, each with one wound stripe on their left sleeves, among front service chevrons and specialty ratings:


Despite the Machine Gun Corps cap badge, this fellow with his nurse or maybe his sister, was from a Highland regiment earlier in the war. Note the wound stripe on the left sleeve of what I believe was a form of ambulatory military hospital clothing, NOT a civilian suit:


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  • 1 month later...

& the reverses - the No. 2 & No. 4 have "PROV Pat" included on the backing plate, I reckon that the No. 2's backing plate ws originally shaped like the other 2, but bits have broken off over time.

The actual No. 4 wound stripe has raised lettering on the back, including "....PROV PAT 7342-17 No....

The No. 4 & the inmarked stripes are solid, not hollow backed - I don't know about the No. 2 as I don't want to start prising it off its backing plate.

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  • 1 month later...

With a number of Canadian soldiers wounded recently in Afghanistan, very few people - inside or outside the CF - knew about wound stripes, a dress distinction with almost a century of convoluted tradition reintroduced to the CF a dozen years ago.

The Canadian Forces reintroducted the symbol for uniformed wear in the mid-nineties, doing away with the red stripe as irrelevant: "A wound is a wound, and active service can be indicated in other ways if necessary."

Here are the criteria for eligibility:

A wound stripe recognizes injury directly attributable to hostile action received in honourable circumstances in an operational area, and requiring medical treatment beyond local first aid. Individuals who are injured in accidents in a special duty area or while employed on domestic provision of service operations or training exercises do not qualify for a wound stripe. Wound stripes are not issued posthumously.

There are some fairly quirky aspects to our symbol:

It's not an award or a decoration, it's a dress distinction: "Wound stripe wear is not compulsory. These are a dress distinction, not marks of service or qualification. For personal reasons, individuals may prefer not to display symbols of physical injury."

It's authorized by the casualty's Unit Commanding Officer. The CO will present the stripe in private or in public according to the wishes of the recipient. The wounded service member also gets a certificate, a note in his or her personnel file, and a message to his or her career manager at NDHQ.

It can be worn on civilian clothing - like a suit jacket: "Personnel, who by reason of their service have become entitled to wear a wound stripe, may, at their own option, continue to wear them on civilian clothes after cessation of military service."

Solely mental injuries such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are eligible: "Operational stress injuries may qualify for a wound stripe if treatment of not less than one week in hospital (or equivalent) is the direct result of a traumatic incident caused by hostile forces in a combat zone." As noted here, I don't know that many PTSD casualties would want to wear an advertisement for their condition, but they're clearly entitled to it.

The actual stripes come in strips of five and are "cut as needed." Five seems a little excessive to me. Historically, CF policy has been that three non-trivial wounds got you sent home from the theatre of operations (not always followed, apparently). And even if the expectation is that you'll have to put them on many different uniforms, how many DEU's does one soldier have?

Wounds and/or injuries that are self-inflicted do not qualify for the wound stripe.

More info here:


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Interestimng that PTSD qualifies.

When the British wound stripe was bought in during WWI "shell shock" & gassing were'nt sufficient to earn it - given the attitudes of the time then I can perhaos understand why shell shock did'nt qualify, but I don't understand why suffering gas burns etc did'nt qualify.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just had a look at Medal News, May 2005 - I must've not bothered to read it properly when I first bought it - it has an article by Don McLean -

"As the memories fade..."

This is about a booklet entitled "Soldiers' & Sailors' Rights", published 1917 & whch has a section:

Wound Badge: In July 1916, the authorties approved of the wearing of badges for officers and men who have been wounded since August 4, 1914. The badges are strips of gold Russian braid, two inches in length, sewn perpendicular near the bottom of the left sleeve of the jacket and each strip will mark each occasion on which an officer or man has been wounded . These badges can be obtained from the Army Ordnance Department.

Badges for Wounded Naval Men: The much appreciated decision of the Army Council to award gold stripes to wounded soldiers naturally called for similar recognition of the services in the Navy. The Admiralty lost no time in responding to the wish of the Navy, Dr Macnamara announcing in parliament on July 17, 1916, that it was proposed to issue distinctive badges for invalided and wounded naval men.

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