Review of “Badges of the regular infantry 1914-1918”

Badges of the regular infantry 1914-1918
By David Bilton
Published by Pen & Sword Military
Hardback ISBN 978 1 52675 802 6
297 pages plus bibliography/further reading/sources. No index.
Cover price £30.
Review copy kindly provided by publisher.
Reviewed by Chris Baker.

The name of the author will be known to many readers of the Long, Long Trail, for David Bilton is a prolific author who has had many titles published by Pen & Sword over the years. Among them is a useful work of reference in “The badges of Kitchener’s Army” and this new work follows it in a similar style.

My initial observation before even opening it is that this is a heavyweight work: I mean physically heavy. It is produced on high quality glossy paper and to some extent the page count is stretched out by the text being in a fairly large, well spaced font and wide line spacing.

The work is made up a series of short chapters or sections, each covering one of the British Army infantry regiments that had a pre-war regular army component and that, of course, is most of them. Each section begins with a brief discourse of the locations of the regiment’s battalions at the start of the war, placing of each battalion in the order of battle, and its movements to a theatre of war. These all look good and accurate to me, although my eye did alight on the name of one regiment’s depot barracks which didn’t actually use the name until 1959.

But these potted histories are not the focus of the work. Its primary value is from the excellent and what appears to be comprehensive set of illustrations of the various cap badges, shoulder titles, sleeve patches and other insignia worn by each battalion. Each is explained and some shown on contemporary photographs of soldiers. These are all displayed in colour and form a most valuable reference to work for anyone interested in uniform, insignia and in particular those of us trying to interpret photographs.

Very good and certainly one for the shelf.

Looking online today I see it can be purchased for about £20, despite the cover price of £30. Good value at that figure.

Buy it