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"Very RARE" South African Air Force Badge.... or not?

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I have a QUESTION for the FORUM, please:

(Badges are not within my field of expertise......)

I have been given to understand that a brass badge

which I can best describe as follows:


It is of brass. Has two rear lugs for attachment by a sliding pin.

It is about 5cm wide and 3.1cm in height

The form of the badge is a circular wreath, with a half-wing

on each side, left and right.

Surmounted by a crown, and within the circular wreath,

a crossed bomb and a machine gun.

Below is a ribbon on which appears: S.A.A.F. - S.A.L.M.


is a rare badge, and of possible high value ????????

Is this true? What IS the badge??

When does it date from? What is value?

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Hi David, if I have the description correct it is a known SAAF badge. It is the SAAF Navigator / Air Gunner brevet worn in 1937. I believe they are relatively rare as I have only seen very few in many years. I had one that sold on one of Michael Kaplan's auctions a couple of years ago but cannot recall what it went for. Will see if I still have this info.



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S.A.A.F. Navigator / Air Gunner Brevet Badge 1937

Thanks, Gavin for your reply. Yes that is exactly what it is. And I have one. Please go to the

Members Image Gallery (page one: Bennett Medal Album - should probably now say Medals

and Badges) and you will see it illustrated there, in a photo.

I saw an internet site last year selling one for R800 and claiming that there were only three in

existence............???? I don't know about that. Unless these same three are changing hands

often, between the R800 seller, and Kaplan's badge, and the one which sold recently BELOW,

for over R1000 and my badge (which came to me with the medals of an ex S.A.A.F. man who

had served from WWII, through to the 1970s............ and why would he have a copy / forgery

of the badge, It was with his personal stuff, and he was not even a collector..... in fact you can

see his medals illustrated in my Album, and in my separate, second DOCUMENTS Album,

you can see his photos.......... he was F/Sgt E.F. Williamson............). And I bought and have

owned Williamson's medals, badges, photos and many other personal things, which I bought

from his family, in 1997.

Anyway, with my badge, and the few others around, I think that it is obvious that there are not

just THREE of them.............. there surely must be others, BUT you do not see it every day,

and so I think your comment that they are "relatively rare" is probably true. Mine is also

undamaged, still having the two rear lugs, complete, and intact.

But thanks for your interest and reply, Gavin. If you hear anything more, please let me know.

Here is the "Bid or Buy" result for the badge recently sold for R1,006...................


Winning Bidders:
Page views: 69 | Buyers: 1

R1,006.00, on 30 Jan 07:12, by sabrigade (1147 rating5.gif)

If you are a winning bidderComplete Your Purchase


R1,001.00 on 30 Jan 05:39, by anzac (445 rating3.gif)

R550.00 on 24 Jan 12:54, by the good dudes (661 rating4.gif)

454717-3103847371-l.gif icn_item_hotitem.png
bidorbuy ID: 18656318

Winning Bid: R1,006.00

Min. Bid Increment: R5.00

Closed: 30 Jan 21:01:25

Item Condition: Secondhand

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Sorry GAVIN, my apologies - just looked at the copy of the advert of the fellow

selling one of these badges, and I see that he was asking US$800 and not R800,

as I wrote in my reply, above. This is over R7,200 at today's rates - which compared

to the sale earlier this year, of R1,006 is probably asking far too much, I think. (?)

Unless you are an American with very deep pockets who REALLY wants it......


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Hi David,

Gavin's description is very accurate and I totally agree with his comments.

I purchased the badge on B or B and I think that there were many more than three servicemen who qualified to wear it.

Some SAAF badges are very rare and may be unique in the sense that some servicemen "made" them as part of a trade test.

One that comes to mind is the SAAF "boat" service during ww2 and I believe that they were based in your neck of the woods.

Some dealers in South Africa have an internationally based clientel hence the dollar and other prices.



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Thanks for that additional information, Will. Of course I don't believe that there are only three such

badges, as it would be impossible to believe that a die would be so engraved, set up, etc etc and

then only three badges made. There are obviously more, but because we don't see them everyday,

probably not that many around. So I am happy with Gavin's description of "relatively rare". And

besides which, I wonder how many 'qualified' Navigator / Air Gunners there were in the S.A.A.F.

in 1937. Not many I would think..................

Anyway, when I bought F/Sgt Williamson's medals, for the "going price" at that time, from his family,

I got a huge bonus, when this SAAF badge was included, plus wartime money, stamps, photographs,

and much other related items besides.

Best wishes,

David B 1812

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Hi David,

South African badges are very interesting and it is amazing how many "variations" and "they were never worn" turn up and contradict the many refernce books out there.

I usually use postcards and other photographs as a reference where and when possible.

Any chance of posting the Williamson medals, etc?



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Will -

If you go to "Collector's Image Gallery" on this website,

then to "Member's Showcase & Collections"

then to Page 1 - where you will see: "Bennett Medal Collection"

here, I have 41 images of some of my Medal and Badge collection,

Then, just below that, is the "Bennett Photo and Document Collection"

where there are 58 photos of documents and photos of varying

interest. From the Photo of Field Marshal Jan Smuts (which comes

from F/Sgt Williamson - actually it is a copy of a famous painting of

Smuts, which Williamson had) through the next dozen or so photos

and documents - you will find that these all relate to Williamson.

Those are what I have put on the site, but there is much more.

I have not illustrated F/Sgt Williamson's medals on the "Medal" site

because it is a very ordinary, typical South African WWII group - i.e.:

39-45 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; 39-45 War Medal; Africa Service

Medal. So not really of any great interest.

What IS interesting, however (and PROVED by me having Williamson's

military service papers and file), is that despite the fact that he served

in the S.A.A.F. for 5+ years in the war (Dec 1940 to Jan 1946) and then

again from Feb 1950 until he retired in Feb 1974 - giving total service of

a little over 29 years, HE DID NOT SEEM TO QUALIFY FOR ANY type

of LONG SERVICE AWARD??? Seems strange, but true. No LS medal

of any type present, and no mention of one in his papers. Strange as

many men with far less than 29 years service, including war service which,

usually would count double, DO HAVE a LS&GC or an Efficiency Medal

or a John Chard Medal. But not F/Sgt Williamson.

When he signed up in 1950 (i.e. for the second time) he did so as an

"Air Mechanic" - the S.A. Air Force equivalent of a Private in those days.

In 1952 promoted to Air Corporal.

In 1962 promoted to Air Sergeant

In 1966 promoted to Flight Sergeant

In 1971 promoted to W.O.II - BUT with a later note showing that this was

deleted (with no reason stated) - leaving Williamson as a Flight Sergeant.

He then retired in February, 1974. He died in 1997 aged 75.

If you look at Williamson's photos, he seems to have an "attitude" about him.

I never met the man, but just looking at his photos, the way he combed his

hair, the way he posed, the way he wore his cap or hat - he seems to have

had a "attitude" about him. One of the photos shows him with an upturned

cap in his hand, in Rome, if I recall correctly, with the note: "Cap in left hand

with cakes and sweets for girls to barter". Barter for what, one wonders?

(Rhetorically, of course)

I think that he rather fancied himself as a bit of a "ladies man" and also that

he may well have had a bit of an "attitude" against authority. No proof, of

course, but it is just my impression, when looking at all his photos. This MAY

EXPLAIN why his promotion was reversed, and why there is no long service

or efficiency medal. Maybe he just did not deserve one ????

I can also tell you that although not illustrated in my "Album" I have a VERY OLD

original photograph from 1897 of Williamson's mother, as a baby, and her mother,

i.e. Williamson's grandmother. It is a professionally taken and mounted photo,

taken by the photographer Caney, in Natal, and on the reverse is noted " To Ellen,

with love and kisses. Lady Bullier and Irene Bulleier, born 2nd June 1897. Photo

taken 3rd December 1897". And so from this, we can see that Williamson's

grandmother was a "LADY Bullier" (We don't know who "Ellen" was).

Then there is a photo of Williamson's mother, Irene. Taken, again, professionally,

by Henry Kisch, Photographer, Ladysmith. Written on the reverse is: "To dear

Aunt Ellen with love and kisses. Miss Irene Bulleier aged 4 years, 2 June 1901"

We cannot say for sure, but there is every possibility that Irene Bulleier and her

mother Lady Bulleier having been in Ladysmith, Natal in June 1901, may also

have been present in the town during the actual SEIGE of LADYSMITH, which

was, as we know, from 30 October 1899 to 28 February 1900. Maybe.

Williamson's collection also contained another professionally posed and taken

photograph, which was of the wedding, in 1920 of his parents. Frederick Peter

Williamson and Irene Winifred Bulleier. Then collection also contains his Baptism

Certicate, his 1946 "Demob" certificate (showing, then, by the way that his

character was recorded as being "Very Good"), his 1946 Apprenticeship Certificate

as a Motor Mechanic, his S.A.D.F. Certificate, upon his discharge, on 28 Feb.

1974, confirming his service since 3 February 1950, that his last unit was 5 Sdn.

in Durban, that his medals were the five I earlier listed, above, and that he had

no "Special military qualifications" and no "Honourably mentioned in despatches

or commendations" and that his final rank was indeed, that of F/Sgt. The collection

also has a number of official function card invitations, Christmas cards and so on

and includes a very interesting card, which is of a Spanish girl, holding flowers

in her hand, and athough it is on card, the headress, flowers, dress and apron

of the Spanish girl is actually embroidered in real cotton or silk. Very nice. There

are also quite a number of photographs (some without captions or notes, alas),

of various and different aircraft which I suppose he worked on and serviced, as

well as casual photos of Williamson in Mogadishu, and in Egypt, as well as in Italy.

Althogether there are 46 A4 pages - now mounted as an "Album" of information,

documents and photographs of Williamson and his life. A nice collection.

Best wishes.

David B

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  • 7 months later...

I am coming to this thread rather late in the day but, just to further disabuse the view of only three badges, I have two in my collection! Both bought in 1992, the scarcer version in brass cost GBP40 and the more usual version in bronze cost GBP35. Say around SAR600 and then you need to add 20 years' inflation.

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I am coming to this thread rather late in the day but, just to further disabuse the view of only three badges, I have two in my collection! Both bought in 1992, the scarcer version in brass cost GBP40 and the more usual version in bronze cost GBP35. Say around SAR600 and then you need to add 20 years' inflation.


sometimes it depends on where and when you buy something... I have picked up EUR1000 items for less than EUR100 as the seller did not know what he had.... I cannot comment on the badges shown here... but sometimes collectors have luck and a seller does not know what he has....

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Hi Chris,

I am not too sure what point you are making in your reply. I thought that my price of R600 twenty years ago was reasonably consistent with the prices of R800 - 1000 quoted in this thread (and ignoring the one comment about $800). The main purpose of my post was to add strength to the view that there are indeed many more than three of these badges in existence and many more than three genuine examples in the market.


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JAMYAM. Welcome to GMIC. DavidB is no longer with us , and I agree with you that it is unlikely such a small number are the only ones in existance. Many people go for the generic badges or, don't always recognise the rarer ones. Amazing sometimes

when you go through a box of old badges - how many of them could be regarded as rare simply because they were not issued in great numbers and have gone into collections - and old boxes.

I think the point Chris was making that with rarer badges and medals they can often be sold for lower prices then you would

expect - simply because they have not been recognised. Mervyn

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I think the point Chris was making that with rarer badges and medals they can often be sold for lower prices then you would

expect - simply because they have not been recognised. Mervyn

Indeed, exactly my point. Sometimes we collectors get "lucky" and get something at a fraction of the normal value. It is not a barometer of the market price.

I give that comment not in relation to the piece shown, or what jamyam paid back then. It is simply as a general comment.

Point 2... when dies are made and a badge die struck, it is seldom done a badge at a time, they do a production run of many. An example is the "insanely rare" Kriegsmarine Honor clasps... I think about 29 were awarded.... there are plenty of mint cased ones on the market, "souveniered" mainly by canadian troops in 1945. I knew of one stash that had 10 or more, kept in a duffel bag for 50 years....

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Rumours like "..... David B is no longer with us ...... " are incorrect and much exaggerated...............

Here I am - alive, STILL with you, and in reasonable health..........

David B 1812


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  • 6 months later...

Hi All, thought I'd add my 2 cents worth to the "rare only 3 issued" badge debate - just bought one on e-bay for GBP44, but the same day the sale closed another example popped up for GBP185 !!! Me thinks a bargain has been had :-)

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Thank you, all, for these additional comments.

We can safely say that there are of course many more than just "three' of these scarce S.A.A.F. badges around.

THAT claim (of just three) came from a Internet Seller, where I saw the claim. I do not make it. However, from what

we have seen above, it is most certainly a badge which one does not see every day. And, I would guess when it was

used, prior to WWII, the S.A.A.F. could not have had THAT many Navigator/Air Gunners around.

Obviously we will never know, exactly, how many there are. I am just happy that I have one !!!!

All the best,

David B


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  • 3 years later...

UPDATE: 13 December 2017 -  I have found two AUCTION prices for this rather RARE badge -  see HERE -  for 2016 and 2017

- All the best, David Bennett.   Durban, Natal. 






auction closed

Closed 24 Jan 2017


Top of Form


Item: W4035

A South African Air Force -Navigator/Bomb Aimer Badge, 1937

On October 8, 2016 Auction Won For

$151 =  about  R1960

Bottom of Form


A South African Air Force; Navigator/Bomb Aimer Badge, 1937

A die struck gilt metal breast badge, issued in 1937, extremely fine. This badge was in use for a very short time, and is very scarce, with less than one hundred issued. See “Eagles Recalled”, page 214, top.

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One of the vendors in a large local antique market has an entire case full of 'unique', 'very rare' and 'extremely rare' items.  Two or three of the 30 actually are.  It makes me wonder where all the 'ordinary' and 'common' stuff has got to. :(  Although in this case the vendor has offered some 'evidence' for his/her claim.  Is the source reliable?  Are there other similar sources?


Edited by peter monahan
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