Worcestershire Regiment men issued with the Silver War Badge
The Silver War Badge (SWB), sometimes wrongly called the Silver Wound Badge, was instituted with effect from the 12th September 1916 (Army Order AO316), and takes the form of a circular badge with the legend "For King and Empire-Services Rendered" surrounding the George V cypher. The badge was mounted as a brooch.
The badge was awarded to all of those personnel who have served at home or abroad since the 4th August 1914, and who on account of age, or physical infirmity arising from wounds or sickness caused by military service have, in the case of Officers, retired or relinquished their commissions, or, in the case of men, have been discharged from the Army.
The Silver War Badge is not a medal or decoration. However record of it being awarded to any officer or man (and later women) is included with his or her service medal records. Details shown in the Silver War Badge rolls can add significantly to knowledge of the man's war service. Each badge issued had a number engraved on the back which identified the individual.
If your ancestor served with the Worcestershire Regiment you can check if he or she was awarded a Silver War Badge by clicking on the correct Surname letter link below:
If you find your ancestors name on the list then you can contact the Worcestershire Regiment Archives at Norton Barracks, Worcester, WR5 2PA, as they will have some information about them in their records.
One of the main reasons for the issue of this badge was to stop men of military age, who were not in uniform, being harassed, accused of cowardice and shown the 'White Feather'.
The badge was to be worn on the right breast when in civilian dress and it was forbidden to wear it on any military uniform.
The War Office made it known that they would not replace Silver War Badges if they were lost, however if one was handed into a police station then it would have been returned to the War Office. If the original recipient could be traced at his or her discharge address then the badge would be returned.
About 1,150,000 of these badges were issued with certificates, in the First World War. A roll of the recipients of the War Badge can be found at the National Archive at Kew.
The rolls for the Silver War Badge generally record the man's date of enlistment and discharge, and whether he was discharged as the result of being wounded or through age or "sickness". and often give his age at time of discharge. It was not necessary for an Officer or Other Ranks to have had overseas service in order for him to qualify for the SWB, therefore home service can be established if no service record survives.
The War Office covering note which was issued with SWB's warned that if lost it would not be replaced. but when SWB's were handed in at Police stations they were returned to the War Office and if the original recipient could still be traced at his/her discharge address then the badge was returned to them.
During the First World War, the numbers on the back of the badge kept changing.
Between September 1916 and March 1918, they were issued with just a number and were better quality than most later stampings. Around 335,000 of these were issued.
Between March 1918 and September 1918, these were the second series. This took the number of badges issued up to 450,000.
Between September 1918 and December 1919, they had a 'B' prefix before the number. Around 450,000 of these were issued (see example photo opposite).
Between December 1919 and January 1920, they had a 'O' prefix, around 5,000 of these were issued.
Between January 1920 and March 1922, they went back to ordinary numbers again. Around 70,000 badges were issued.
Reverse of the SWB
(note the 'B' prefix)
Changes from April 1918
After April 1918 there were several changes;
RAF men were issued with badges prefixed with RAF, over 10,000 badges were issued.
The Royal Navy had a separate prefix, which was 'RN', there were at least 43,000 badges issued.
After this date it became possible for servicemen, civilians who served in the R.A.M.C., female nurses, V.A.D.s, Q.M.A.A.C. staff, etc. to get awarded the silver war badge.
Lance Corporal William Benjamin Butler (9102)
Example of a Silver War Badge card
The example opposite shows date of enlistment as the 9th February 1905 and date of discharge as the 7th April 1916. If you were to also look up his Medal Index Card you would see that the date of entry in to Theatre or War was 12th August 1914.
The above card also makes reference to "Action taken" against which it states "List L/17". This is the reference to a Silver War Badge Roll, this refers to the roll in which the L/Cpl. Butler is mentioned. On the Silver War Badge roll it should mention at the very least the number of the badge, the official reason and date of his discharge. The Silver War Badge Roll is held at the National Archives at Kew.
You will see from this example that the reason for his discharge was due to wounds and referrers to Paragraph 392 (xvi) K.R. (Kings Regulations). Below is a list providing full details of the King's Regulations For Discharge.
King's Regulations For Discharge
There are twenty-nine different ways in which someone could have been discharged under the King's Regulations. The different regulations are;
(i) References on enlistment being unsatisfactory.
(ii) Having been irregularly enlisted.
(iii) Not likely to become an efficient soldier.
(iv) Having been claimed as an apprentice.
(v) Having claimed it on payment of £10 within three months of his attestation.
(vi) Having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment.
(vii) Having been claimed for wife desertion.
(viii) Having made a false answer on attestation.
(ix) Unfitted for the duties of the corps.
(x) Having been convicted by the civil power of_____, or of an offence committed before enlistment.
(xi) For misconduct.
(xii) Having been sentenced to penal servitude.
(xiii) Having been sentenced to be discharged with ignominy.
(xiv) At his own request, on payment of _____ under Article 1130 (i), Pay Warrant.
(xv) Free, after ____ years' service under Article 1130 (ii), Pay Warrant.
(xvi) No longer physically fit for war service.
(xvia) Surplus to military requirements (having suffered impairment since entry into the service).
(xviii) At his own request after 18 years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xix) For the benefit of the the public service after 18 years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xx) Inefficiency after 18 years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xxi) The termination of his ____ period of engagement.
(xxii) With less than 21 years' service towards engagement, but with 21 or more years' service towards pension.
(xxiii) Having claimed discharge after three months' notice.
(xxiv) Having reached the age for discharge.
(xxv) His services being no longer required.
(xxva) Surplus to military requirements (Not having suffered impairment since entry into the service).
(xxvi) At his own request after 21 (or more) years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xxvii) After 21 (or more) years' qualifying service for pension, and with 5 (or more) years' service as warrant officer (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xxviii) On demobilization.