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Skull & Bones Symbol in Army from past to present

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If you wish the roots of this tradition, I believe you need to look to the 'Black Brunswickers' of the Napoleonic period and their spiritual descendants in the German cavalry of the 19th century.  Pity the SS made the skull so unpalatable as a device to most modern users.

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Once i read that the use of the skull and bones by prussian hussars after the death of Frederick William 1 . Frederick the Great formed a regiment of hussars the 5th or von Ruesch hussars , and gave to their members small triangular pennons made of black cloth with the skull and bones in white over . the pennons formed part of the mourning decorations at the king s funerals . The hussars founded the banderoles well suited and used them on their mirlitons . Possible ,the Great King was notorious for his economic mind ,he dont likes waste nothing . The skull was too emblem of the british Royal Lancers . the 3rd Cavalry regiment of the chilean Army has the name Hussars and the skull and bones as emblem .

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Many other soldiers, units and groups have used the skull unofficially.  It's a fairly obvious symbol for a soldier, I think, as it allegedly was for pirates: death, merciless, etc etc.  However, the number of units who use it officially is fairly small, I think, because the optics aren't good in this day and age. 

I recall a public fuss when a member of the French Foreign Legion on patrol in Africa was photographed wearing a skull mask which covered most of his face.  Wearing the masks against dust is common in the theatre, but this one was deemed 'intimidating' and 'inappropriate' as, I believe, his unit was on 'peacekeeping' duty.  

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Peninsula Commemorative Medal, Brunswick (Death’s Head) 17th Hussars.

This medal was awarded by the Dukedom of Brunswick in 1909 to the descendants of the 17th (Death's Head) Hussars Regiment who fought in the Napoleonic Peninsular wars of 1809: -


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On 07/08/2019 at 13:55, graham said:

Peninsula Commemorative Medal, Brunswick (Death’s Head) 17th Hussars.

This medal was awarded by the Dukedom of Brunswick in 1909 to the descendants of the 17th (Death's Head) Hussars Regiment who fought in the Napoleonic Peninsular wars of 1809: -


Here is mine.

Missing its ribbon...


On 08/08/2019 at 04:00, AndresT said:

Yes German history is full of skulls....


Very nice!!

Here are mine, only 2. The second one on the right is hard to see due to reflection of the windows....


And more German skull's;


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Very nice! Here are  (old!) Estonian Kuperjanov Batallion cuff with skull: file.php?id=31932&t=1

And in collar: file.php?id=36480&t=1


Kuperjanow's bust:


Sport dress:


Modern Kup. dog tag:


First commander after restauration Bat. gen. Johannes Kert 1992:pisipilt?id=f26798a4-6239-4772-92ef-9dc9


But here are British Submarine famoust "protest" skull-flag. hms-utmost-1942-aastal-need-pole-mitte-m

PS! These hats are not mine. Found it from from other forum. It show nicely how skull similar to SS-skull is not SS-skull but... similar. There are many fools who still sees that behind any skull there must be ss and nazis. But hell no!

Edited by AndresT
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Hello, clearly NO ! the Chilean Army for example used and use the Skull and bones as emblem of one of their Cavalry units named also Death Hussars No 3 and dating back to 1818. The 17/21st Lancers of the British Army uses the Skull and bones over a scroll that reads OR GLORY as badge. The French Revolutionary Army created in 1792 a Cavalry Regiment named Hussards de la Mort , Death Hussars , with a black uniform almost identical to that of the Prussian Hussars. During the Spanish Civil War in the Francoist Army was created a Shock Company within the Guardia Civil ,the militarized Police force . the creator Captain Roger Oliete named the Coy La Calavera ,that is the Skull . the near 200 members weared a patch on the arm or the breast with the skull and bones and the letters G and C entwined . the Guardia Civil was and is a rather conservative Institute.

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'Remember, Man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.', to quote from the Roman Catholic Ash Wednesday service.  Today, many Christian denominations put a more positive spin on it, complete with crucifixes displaying the risen Christ. 

cross 1.jpg

cross 2.jpg

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This spanish Cavalry Regiment "Lusitania"



In the Battle of Madonna del Olmo (Piedmont), on September 30, 1744, the troops of the Kingdom of Sardinia tried to break the Spanish-French front line in the sector located between Madonna del Olmo and Lyonais. The Dragons of Numancia and Lusitania, who were in the second line, go to the threatened point. Both immediately go into fire, managing to stop the progression of the opponents. The Lusitania go on the counter attack. Her men try, by means of successive charges, to search for the flank of the attacking column, but they are themselves led from the left by the fire of the Sardinians, who shoot. This, together with the difficult compartmentalization of the land, based on ditches, ended up disorganizing the Regiment, succumbing two thirds of its troops and cattle under enemy lead, but the Sardinian troops will no longer be able to break the Spanish-French lines, retiring those at dusk. In this battle the Lusitania earned the nickname "Dragons of Death" and, in memory of it, King Felipe V granted the Regiment the privilege of carrying three skulls with crossbones on the cuffs.

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