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  • Mark Forsdike

Regimental ‘Minden’ Flashes

Minden Day has passed and it got me thinking again about NW Europe.

My attention of late has been in Malaya, but a chance email brought my thoughts back to Europe and in particular, to one piece of iconic Suffolk Regiment insignia which has been in existence for just over eighty years.

The ‘Minden Flash’ as it was coined was invented for wear on the sleeves of the battledress following the retreat from Dunkirk. Captain, later Colonel W.A. Heal had a real problem in identifying his men on the beaches and wished them to wear a small distinguishing sign that would identify them.

Safely back in England, he designed a small patch of regimental colours which was unofficially adopted in late 1940 when the 1st Battalion were stationed at Weymouth.

Until recently, I had no information on what the earliest form of the patch looked like. We are all familiar with the patch that is still worn today by 1. Royal Anglian, being an equal rectangle divided equally red and yellow, but was it always in that form?

Well, clearly not for this photograph surfaced last week which I had not seen before, showing otherwise. It was sent to me via email and shows of men of 1 Suffolk in a Weymouth WRVS canteen in late 1940/early 1941 with some men wearing an early form of the flash being distinguishable by its taller, narrower style. Others wear the commonly seen form of flash that would later replace these early ones.

A rummage in my badge box and an original example came to light; brought some years back ‘just in case’ it could be one - looking back now, a shrewd move!

The image below came from the family of one of those men who helped to recover the Drums of 1/Suffolk in December 1944 from Roubaix, but that’s another story…


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